Can You Breastfeed If You Have Herpes
Yes, most women can breastfeed their babies even when infected with herpes, as the virus cant be passed through breast milk. But be on the lookout for sores and lesions on your breasts, which can spread the virus and always wash your hands with soap and water before and after each feeding session. If do you spot a sore, dont feed your infant from that side.
And as for milk thats been pumped or expressed by hand from a breast that has an active lesion, its a no-go for your infant. This milk may be contaminated and must be discarded since it may have come in contact with the sore during the process. But if your other breast is sore-free, you can pump and feed that side to your infant, though be sure both your hands and the pump parts are super clean to avoid any transmission.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
How Can Herpes Harm A Baby
- A mother can infect her baby during delivery, often fatally. Herpes simplex is most often spread to an infant during birth if the mother has HSV in the birth canal during delivery.
- HSV can also be spread to the baby if he or she is kissed by someone with an active cold sore.
- In rare instances, HSV may be spread by touch, if someone touches an active cold sore and then immediately touches the baby.
Pregnant women with genital herpes should be careful — but not overly worried — about passing the virus on to the baby.
Herpes Outbreaks Near Labor
If you are symptom-free and you go into labor, this will not change your plans for labor. The only risk of being infected is if you have an outbreak and the baby comes into contact with the active sore during the birth. This would be a reason to do a c-section. Talk to your doctor or midwife about watching for signs of an outbreak to prevent neonatal herpes.
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Brief Overview Of Herpes Simplex
There are two types of herpes simplex virus :
HSV- 1, known as oral herpes, causes blisters in the mouth area, commonly called cold sores or fever blisters. Most people get HSV-1 during childhood through non-sexual contact with someone who had a blister.
HSV- 2, known as genital herpes, causes blisters in the genital area. Some genital herpes is caused by HSV1 through oral sex.
HSV is transmitted through saliva, genital secretions, or a skin-to-skin contact with blisters during active outbreaks. Sometimes, it can be shed from the skin when no blisters are visible.
Although the first outbreak upon the initial infection tends to be the most severe, the virus can be silent and not produce any symptoms for several years. Currently, there is no cure for HSV.
Control Herpes Before Pregnancy
The goal in preconception is to limit herpes outbreaks on the genital area to improve your chances of getting pregnant. Let your doctor know that you have herpes so he can help you prepare for conception.
Depending on the severity of your infection, you might be prescribed topical or oral antiviral medications to help you control the outbreaks.
Focus on foods that will boost your immune system, prevent outbreaks, and promote fertility. They should contain:
Phytoestrogens, which can regulate your hormones and menstruation: beans, broccoli, and tomatoes
Lysine, which can prevent blisters: apples, beets, and cauliflower
Antioxidants, which can ward off infections and boost your immunity: strawberries, green tea, and ginger
Vitamin C and B, which can reduce stress, boost immunity, and make you more fertile: salmon, mushrooms, and parsley
Citrus bioflavonoids can help herpes blisters heal faster: tea, leafy green veggies, and red clover
Probiotics, which restore your intestinal flora and improve your immunity: yogurt, fermented cabbage, and kombucha
Filtered water with lemon to keep an alkaline balance in the diet
Stress is a known trigger of herpes outbreaks, and exercise is one of the best ways to relieve it. It can also help you regulate your menstrual cycle and boost your fertility.
Vitamins and Supplements
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What Stands Out About Yale Medicines Approach To Genital Herpes
As an academic medical center, Yale Medicine provides a wide range of treatment options for patients. Our doctors are expert at diagnosing and treating difficult cases and helping manage the condition for people at risk, such as pregnant women. Our doctors have access to the most advanced technology for diagnosing herpes and other medical conditions.Also, our researchers continue to look for new information about the herpes virus.
Herpes Could Lead To Infertility
Sexually-transmitted infections can have serious reproductive health consequences for women beyond the immediate impact of the infection itself. This sense of wider risk is reinforced by a 2016 study suggesting that there may be a link between a specific strain of the herpes virus and infertility.
HHV-6A, a lesser-known strain of herpes, was present in the uterine lining in 43 per cent of 30 women who took part in the study, all of whom were suffering with unexplained infertility. The researchers suggest that the women’s immune response to the virus may make their uterus less accommodating for a fertilised egg.
Herpes viruses have been implicated in male infertility, but unlike other STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, which are caused by bacteria and have known risks for female fertility that FIGO has previously highlighted, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the herpes simplex virus affects fertility in women. Still, viral infections have been considered as possible environmental factors contributing to infertility and the researchers noted that HHV-6A cannot be found in the uterine lining of women who are able to conceive.
WHO describes infertility as a global public health issue. The number of couples of reproductive age affected by infertility worldwide is estimated to be between 48.5 and 186 million, and data from the UK suggests that cases of unexplained fertility account for around 25 percent of cases.
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Herpes Treatment During Pregnancy
If you are experiencing symptoms that could be associated with herpes, discuss those symptoms with your doctor. In general, treatment is recommended for symptomatic herpes infections. However, people without symptoms generally are not treated during early pregnancy.
Near the time of delivery, obstetricians recommend using suppressive therapy to reduce the risk of a late-term outbreak. This daily treatment is generally started at 36 weeks of gestation and continued through delivery. Preventing an outbreak may also reduce the risk of needing a C-section instead of being able to deliver vaginally.
Precautions For Pregnant Women Without Herpes
While any woman who has never had herpes should be cautious about having sex with someone who might have herpes, pregnant women should take extra precautions in their third trimester. These guidelines include avoiding intercourse and oral sex with partners who have, or you suspect have, genital herpes.
If you’re uncertain if you’ve been exposed to herpes, consider asking your obstetrician about HSV antibody testing to be sure.
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The Risks Change If You Contract Herpes During Pregnancy
Contracting genital herpes during pregnancy is a different story it can lead to miscarriage or early labor, especially if it occurs in the third trimester. Neonatal herpes can be transmitted to the baby when herpes is present in the birth canal during delivery. If it is, it can lead to damage to the nervous system and even death. This is why it’s super important to visit your doctor if you suspect you might have herpes, or if you think you’ve been exposed your doctor can prescribe antivirals to reduce the possibility of an outbreak.
Where Can I Go For A Sexual Health Check
The best places to go are a genito-urinary medicine clinic, sexual health clinic, your GP or a young peoples clinic.
All information given will be kept confidential, and the tests are only done with your permission.
You can find details of local GUM clinics by contacting the Sexual Health Line on 0300 123 7123 or the Family Planning Associations website
Remember that your reproductive partner should have a sexual health check-up too.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most women with genital herpes do not know they have it. But, if you get symptoms with the first outbreak of genital herpes, they can be severe. Genital herpes also can be severe and long-lasting in people whose immune systems do not work properly, such as women with HIV.
The first signs of genital herpes usually show up two to 12 days after having sexual contact with someone who has herpes. Symptoms can last from two to four weeks. There are other early symptoms of genital herpes:
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever
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More Support And Information
The Family Planning Association provides straightforward information and support on sexual health, sex and relationships to everyone in the UK.
Public Health England National Sexual Health Helpline 0300 123 7123
NHS Choices provides information on sexual health including contraception, STIs and sexual health services in your area.
Terrence Higgins Trust provides HIV and sexual health services in the UK, running services out of local centres across Great Britain. Also provides information about HIV and pregnancy.
HIV i-base provides information about HIV including pregnancy and womens health
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What Is The Treatment For Genital Herpes During Pregnancy
If you have genital herpes, you may be prescribed an oral antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir starting at around 35 weeks to help reduce the chances that youll have an outbreak of genital herpes at the time of delivery. The drugs cant cure genital herpes, but they can help speed up healing if you have an outbreak of genital herpes and suppress future outbreaks while you get ready to have your baby.
As your labor begins, your doctor will carefully check for any genital herpes lesions blisters or sores. If you dont have any signs of an active outbreak of genital herpes when labor starts, you will probably be able to have a vaginal delivery.
If there are genital herpes lesions present during your labor, you will likely need to have a cesarean delivery to prevent tranmission of the herpes virus to the baby during delivery. Your doctor will discuss your options with you prior to your due date.
Your risk factors for contracting genital herpes are the same during pregnancy as they would normally be. Your risk factors for HSV are linked to being directly exposed to the virus. Risk factors include:
Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
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Do They Test For Herpes When Youre Pregnant
In general, herpes testing is not recommended during pregnancy. However, there is an exception for people with symptoms.
If you have symptoms of herpes during pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend testing. Thats particularly true if you have never had symptoms in the past.
Herpes Doctor Discussion Guide
How Is Genital Herpes Treated During Pregnancy
You should take acyclovir or valaciclovir tablets, as above.
If it’s your first outbreak of genital herpes, your baby may be more at risk because you haven’t had time to develop immune protection against the virus, which also helps protect the baby.
Some women experiencing an outbreak of genital herpes might be advised to have a caesarean. This would prevent the herpes virus passing from mother to baby during a vaginal birth. But most women in Australia with genital herpes do give birth safely to healthy babies vaginally.
It’s often recommended that women who have ever had genital herpes take antiviral tablets prior to the birth, even if the herpes isn’t active at the time.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about the best course of action for your situation.
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Meet Nearby People With Herpes
PositiveSingles is the largest online dating and support community for people with herpes. Online since 2001, it has the largest user base among all the STD dating sites and APPs. You will find out there are plenty of people around you.
Thank you Positive Singles for providing me the avenue to meet my life long Soul Mate, the Love of my Life. It has been a wonderful year since we met and I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Lisa.
It started as a long distance relationship for 6 months but after that we moved in together. Wishing the same for everyone else searching for their mate.
Test For Stds And Check In On Fertility With Help From Everlywell
If youâre struggling to become pregnant and/or suspect an issue with your fertility, an at-home fertility test from Everlywell can provide helpful insight. Our Womenâs Fertility Test measures 5 key hormones involved in female fertility, including:
1. Pellati D, Mylonakis I, Bertoloni G, Fiore C, Andrisani A, Ambrosini G, Armanini D. Genital tract infections and infertility. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2008 Sep 140:3-11. PMID: 18456385.
2. Whitley R, Baines J. Clinical management of herpes simplex virus infections: past, present, and future. F1000Res. 2018 7:F1000 Faculty Rev-1726. Published 2018 Oct 31.
3. Monavari SH, Vaziri MS, Khalili M, et al. Asymptomatic seminal infection of herpes simplex virus: impact on male infertility. J Biomed Res. 2013 27:56-61.
4. James SH, Sheffield JS, Kimberlin DW. Mother-to-Child Transmission of Herpes Simplex Virus. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2014 3 Suppl 1:S19-S23.
5. Genital herpes in pregnancy. InformedHealth.org . URL. Accessed March 15, 2022.
6. Stankiewicz Karita HC, Moss NJ, Laschansky E, et al. Invasive Obstetric Procedures and Cesarean Sections in Women With Known Herpes Simplex Virus Status During Pregnancy. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2017 4:ofx248. Published 2017 Nov 6.
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What You Need To Know
- Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
- Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
- If you know you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, cesarean section may be recommended.
How Genital Herpes Can Affect Your Pregnancy
If you have genital herpes, its possible to spread the virus to your baby. A woman can spread it to her baby while she is:
Taking care of her newborn
If the baby gets the virus while in the womb, the mother may have a miscarriage or deliver the baby too early, causing the baby to be premature.
When the baby catches the virus during birth or shortly thereafter, this can be deadly for the baby. Be sure your OB/GYN knows that you have genital herpes so that precautions can be taken.
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Is Herpes Worse Than Hpv
Herpes causes sores around or in the mouth and on the genitals. Unlike herpes, HPV often has no symptoms, but usually is the cause of genital warts. HPV can cause cancer, making it arguably the most dangerous of the two STDs.
Can having HPV stop you getting pregnant?
Is there a connection between HPV and fertility? When left untreated, many sexually transmitted infections can lead to infertility. However, HPV shouldnt affect your ability to conceive. Although you may have heard that HPV can lead to fertility problems, thats generally not the case.
How Will My Healthcare Provider Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.
Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or when you got the infection.
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
It is important to avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. A first episode during pregnancy can create a greater risk of transmission to a newborn.
Fortunately, it is rare for women with genital herpes to infect their babies. If you know that you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, a C-section may be recommended. Depending on individual diagnosis, though, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses suppressive therapy to reduce the frequency of C-section.