The explorer in you wants to get out and see the world this summer. However, if you’re trying to become pregnant there are certain destinations you may want to move to the bottom of your bucket list, and some precautions you should consider no matter where your travels take you. Dr. Jennifer Mersereau of UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina offers tips on how to make your summer vacation stress-free when it comes to Zika and fertility.

Pesky Little Buggers
Fears surrounding the always-annoying mosquito have risen in recent years thanks to the Zika virus, especially for women trying to have a baby. It’s of particular concern for those who are already pregnant since a Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a serious brain birth defect.

Many carriers of the virus don’t have symptoms, which include fever, joint pain, rash, headache, muscle pain, and conjunctivitis. The best possible thing you can do to avoid becoming infected is steer clear of areas where the virus is prevalent and protect against mosquito bites throughout the summer.

Zika Hot Beds
The areas most at risk of hosting Zika-carrying mosquitos are in the Southern hemisphere. Generally speaking, mosquitos that inhabit higher altitudes don’t spread the virus. The CDC’s world map illustrates the risk of Zika by destination. You’ll see that risk to exposure in the United States is minimal. There’s been no major U.S. outbreak; Zika mosquitos have been primarily found in Florida and South Texas.

Avoid Mosquitos & Practice Safe Sex
Zika is primarily spread two ways – through infected mosquitos and through sex. UNC Fertility offers the following tips on how to safeguard against contracting the virus.

1. Do not travel to areas where Zika outbreaks have been reported.
2. Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, treating clothing with insect repellant permethrin, and staying inside when possible.
3. If your partner has traveled to an area where Zika is prevalent take steps to protect yourself. Even if your partner shows no symptoms they may be carrying the virus and can pass it to you during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Always use condoms.

If you’ve traveled to a Zika area, it’s recommended that you wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive. The timeline is different for male partners; Zika can remain in semen for months. So couples should consider not having intercourse for at least six months after his potential exposure to the virus. Remember, many carriers have no symptoms.

Despite the fear surrounding Zika, it’s easily avoided if you take precautions. If you have any questions about Zika and fertility speak with an expert at UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina. We can set your mind at ease and help you make the most of your summer travel plans.