At Durex, we believe everyone should have a happy and healthy sex life. Keeping yourself protected from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is core to this belief. Recently, there has been a lot of talk around the world about the Zika virus, including how it is now reported to be sexually transmitted. We want to make sure you are all empowered with the knowledge you need to be confident in your sex life, especially when it comes to protection. So here are answers to some of the key questions you may have about Zika and sex.
What is the Zika virus?
Zika is a virus that can be spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are flu-like: fever, rash, and joint pain. Conjunctivitis (red eyes) is also a common symptom. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. However, many people who have contracted and are carrying the virus may not show any symptoms.
Why is Durex talking about Zika?
So far there is some evidence that the virus can be sexually transmitted. Durex believe everyone should be able to have a happy and healthy sex life and want to make sure everyone is protected.
How do I know if I have Zika?
People most at risk of the Zika virus are those who are exposed to the areas where the mosquito is found. Secondly, those who have had unprotected sex with someone who has been in one of these areas may also be at risk. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html)
Will using a condom stop the virus being transmitted from or to my partner?
Condoms are the best way to protect against any STIs, including the Zika virus. However, condoms are not 100% guaranteed to prevent STIs. Only abstaining from sexual activity completely offers guaranteed protection against STIs.
What if I or my partner displays no symptoms, will it be OK for us to have unprotected sex?
No. It is estimated that only 1 in 5 people infected by the virus will show symptoms! It’s advised that couples practice safe sex for a minimum of 28 days after leaving the affected area, even if they display no symptoms. If you or your partner has displayed symptoms of the virus, it is recommended that you practice safe sex for a minimum of six months. If you have any concerns or questions you should consult a healthcare professional.
Can Zika virus be transmitted by other kinds of sex e.g. oral or anal?
There is some evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted via infected blood which means that oral and anal sex carry the same potential risk as vaginal sex.
What if I or my partner are already pregnant?
Pregnant women could also contract the virus from unprotected sex with an infected partner. Remember, condoms aren’t just about protecting against unplanned pregnancies, they are the best way to protect against any STI no matter if you are pregnant or not.
Where can I get more information about the Zika virus?