While many people believe that Zika is transmitted through mosquitos, which it is, Zika can also be transmitted sexually. So while it is important that we spray bug spray during mosquito season, it is also important to use protection during sex, because Zika can stay in semen for prolonged periods of time. If you're asking does Zika stay in semen for life, you might not get a direct answer.
But scientists do know that Zika stays in semen for periods of time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika can stay in semen much longer than it can in blood — but the CDC is unsure of how long that is, exactly. Ok, that is a little reassuring. But how long can Zika stay in blood?
Well, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Zika can stay in your system for about seven days. However, the Red Cross advises to wait a full month after traveling to countries affected with Zika before donating blood just to be sure Zika is out of your system. Gupta also believes that it is highly unlikely that Zika will stay in your body forever. If you've been exposed to Zika once, it is highly likely that your body will build up an immunity to it.
The March of Dimes, however does give an estimated amount of time for which Zika can stay in semen. According to the website, Zika can stay in semen for anywhere from two to ten weeks after being infected. Therefore, when traveling to another country affected by Zika and having sex during or after travel, it is important to use protection — because we already have mosquitos to worry about catching Zika from.
According to the CDC, condoms can reduce the chance from getting Zika if used correctly from start to finish. While it is unknown if a woman with Zika can pass the virus to her partners, it is definitely known that Zika can be sexually transmitted through a male. If a male has been diagnosed with Zika or has had Zika symptoms the CDC advises that couples should use condoms or abstain from sex for at least 6 months after symptoms begin.
While there are conflicting reports of how long Zika can stay in the blood stream and semen, Zika is still a relatively new virus that scientists are learning new things about. Therefore, while one website might say it is okay to have sex after 10 weeks, using condoms for six months after contracting Zika is the safest method — making sure that it is completely gone from the body before perhaps passing Zika on to someone new.
The only way to ensure that you can not get or pass on Zika through sex is by using proper protection. And if Zika symptoms begin to show, getting tested for Zika virus to know whether or not you have it. While the spread of Zika increases every day, by using condoms, we all have the chance to stop it being transmitted sexually.