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What to Tell Couples About Zika When They Seek to Have Children

October 14th, 2016

ATLANTA – It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it: telling men with possible Zika exposure but no Zika symptoms to hold off longer if trying to have children.

The CDC recently announced updates to its interim guidance for pre-pregnancy counseling and prevention of sexual transmission of Zika based on ongoing assessment of available data. Chances are that imparting the information to couples seeking to have children will fall to their personal physicians.

The new guidance primarily extends the timeframe for men with possible Zika exposure but no Zika symptoms to wait before attempting pregnancy with their partners, as well as extending the time for use of condoms by these men to protect against sexual transmission of Zika virus infection.

The following is what the CDC says physicians and other healthcare providers need to advise patients:

  • Women and men who are planning to become pregnant in the near future should consider avoiding non-essential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission.
  • The amount of time to wait to attempt conception for couples in which the man has had possible Zika exposure but no Zika symptoms has increased from at least eight weeks to at least six months after last possible exposure.
  • The amount of time to use a condom to protect against transmission of Zika virus infection or not have sex for men with possible Zika exposure but without symptoms has increased from at least eight weeks to at least six months after last possible exposure.

The new guidance also recommends that women should wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive if they have possible Zika virus exposure but do not live in areas of active transmission.

Women and men who live in areas with active Zika transmission and who are considering pregnancy in the near future are advised to talk with their healthcare providers about their pregnancy plans during a Zika virus outbreak, the potential risks of Zika, and how they can prevent Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

The recommendations also apply to women with possible Zika virus exposure who are not pregnant and do not plan to become pregnant and their male partners who want to minimize their risk of sexual transmission. The CDC says those couples should use condoms in addition to their chosen birth control method or not have sex for the same time periods listed for couples planning pregnancy.

CDC tells healthcare providers that couples should be advised that correct and consistent use of condoms reduces the risk for other sexually transmitted infections.

In addition, according to the CDC, women of reproductive age with possible Zika virus exposure who do not do want to become pregnant should use safe and effective contraception.

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