How Is Genital Herpes Spread
If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- Saliva or genital secretions
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels. If you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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 womens 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.
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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If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
Will I Need A C
Once you go into labor, well carefully examine you for genital lesions. If we see something suspicious, we will recommend a C-section.
If you have no symptoms and no sores in the genital region, a vaginal delivery may be safe. Lesions can sometimes appear in other areas, such as the legs or back. If this is the case, well cover them to make sure the baby doesnt come into contact with them.
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Wanting To Use A Condom
Theres a lot of couples who want to use condoms no matter what. And thats ok if its your jam. The problem is that the condom is obviously going to prevent the sperm and the egg from meeting. Thats a problem. If youre in a situation where this is a problem I suggest talking to your partner and looking at the risk versus reward. If youre a male with herpes and dont have an outbreak, not taking the antiviral and not using a condom you have a 4% risk of transmitting herpes to your female partner. If youre a female with herpes and dont have an outbreak, dont use a condom and are not on the antivirals then you have a 10% chance of transmitting it to your partner.
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Herpes And Fertility: Myths Realities And Stigma
One of the most popular topics in the Life With Herpes community is how herpes affects pregnancy and fertility. We chatted with the community founder to get the scoop. Here, well walk you through a stigma-free herpes 101, including why the infection might not impact your fertility, and why you shouldnt stress too much about passing on herpes to your baby during pregnancy.
When Alexandra Harbushka was 25, she told an audience at a conference that she had herpes. The result? After her speech, many people approached her to tell her that they, too, had herpes, and that they’d never told anyone until now.
Alexandra was curious. Why weren’t people talking about herpes? How could she help people with herpes meet one another, talk candidly about it, and access medically accurate, stigma-free information? She decided to start Life with Herpes an online community where people with herpes can connect.
One of the most prominent topics in the community? Fertility concerns. Alexandra says both men and women wonder how having herpes will impact their family planning. Will they have to use condoms forever to avoid transmitting herpes? Will they have to conceive via IVF in order to not infect a baby? Will herpes negatively affect pregnancy?
If you have the same questions, read on we’ve got the facts.
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy: Understanding The Risks
Genital herpes is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 people between the ages of 14 and 49 have it. Approximately 22% of pregnant women in the U.S. have genital herpes. Two percent contract it during pregnancy thats 1 in 50 pregnant women.
Two viral strains can cause genital herpes. HSV-2 is the most common and typically spreads through sexual contact. HSV-1, which is best known for causing cold sores, can also produce genital lesions . More than half of adults in America get HSV-1 at some point in their lives.
Herpes is generally manageable in adults. However, it can cause serious health problems in newborns. During delivery, your baby may be exposed to the virus, even if you are not having an outbreak.
Herpes infection occurs in less than 1% of births, but it can cause severe illness in newborns, such as:
- Serious infections, such as viral meningitis
- Recurrent sores on the skin, eyes, genitals, or mouth
- organ damage, including to the liver, lungs, and heart
Tell your doctor if you or your partner have herpes or if you may have been exposed. By knowing, we can take extra precautions to reduce your babys risk of infection during delivery and in their first few weeks at home. If youre not certain but think you may have had herpes in the past, we can do a blood test to determine whether you have had the infection.
Infection In The Last Trimester Of Pregnancy
If women become infected with genital herpes in the last three months of pregnancy, the virus is passed on to their baby in about 30 to 50 out of 100 births. Because of this risk, women who get genital herpes in the last trimester of pregnancy usually have a Cesarean section in order to protect the child. Its also a good idea to talk with a doctor who is specialized in the treatment of infectious diseases.
In order to prevent infection in the last three months of pregnancy, its best to avoid sex with people who have genital herpes. This is also true when it comes to oral sex with people who have cold sores.
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Herpes Simplex And Getting Pregnant
As the second most common sexually transmitted disease, herpes simplex can be quite an obstacle for women preparing to have children. It is estimated that 25-30% of mothers-to-be have genital herpes, which might delay conception and cause complications, such as viral transmission to the baby.
However, despite significant risks, pregnancy complications can be avoided by following proper management recommendations. Keep on reading to find out what effective steps you can take to ensure your baby’s health and to safely transition into motherhood.
How Can I Avoid Another Outbreak Of Genital Herpes
As the herpes virus stays in the nerves near where the infection first appeared, it will come back in the same area. Recurrent infections can be triggered by:
- ultraviolet light
- a weakened immune system for example if youre going through chemotherapy or HIV .
Obviously, a lot of these things are pretty difficult to avoid though. But the risk of genital herpes can be reduced by:
- Using a condom every time you have sex . The condom needs to cover the infected area.
- Not sharing sex toys .
This page was last reviewed in February 2018
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How Can Neonatal Herpes Be Prevented
If youre pregnant and have a history of genital herpes, tell your doctor or midwife.
You may need to take medication during the last month of pregnancy to prevent an outbreak of vaginal sores during labour.
Delivery by caesarean section is recommended if the genital herpes has occurred for the first time in the last 6 weeks of your pregnancy.
If you develop a cold sore or have any signs of a herpes infection, take these precautions:
- do not kiss any babies
- wash your hands before contact with a baby
- wash your hands before breastfeeding
- cover up any cold sores, lesions or signs of a herpes infection anywhere on your body to avoid passing on the virus
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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How Do I Protect My Baby From Herpes
Herpes can cause serious problems in a baby, such as infections to the eyes and throat, brain damage and even death.
A newborn baby can catch HSV-1 and HSV-2 from being kissed or touched by someone with cold sores, or during childbirth.
Fortunately, most babies born to women who carry the virus are not affected. But if you or your partner has a cold sore or genital herpes, talk to your doctor about keeping it under control during the pregnancy and after the birth. It is also important to treat these conditions aggressively while you are breastfeeding.
It’s important to maintain strict hygiene habits when caring for a new baby if you, or anyone in close contact with the baby, have cold sores.
If you have cold sores, you should:
- cover cold sores when you’re around the baby
- avoid kissing your baby until the sores are completely healed
- avoid touching the cold sores then touching your baby
- wash your hands thoroughly before touching your baby
How To Diagnose Herpes
Diagnosis of herpes simplex is something very simple. You first observe for the visible signs and symptoms. It normally presents as Herpes Labialis or shingles. Herpes attack a certain dermatome. Blister like painful papules normally appear on the genitals or lips.
Skin biopsy can be done. This will give assurance that it is HSV you are dealing with. Polymerase chain reaction is another method of diagnosis that can be done. IgM specific antibody test will also be useful if done because it gives precise results.
Pregnant mothers should be treated before delivery date. This is because the virus is normally increasing day by day and if the mother delivers while having the disease it will be passed to the child and can cause neonatal herpes. Mothers infected should be treated and vaccinated against Herpes for safe delivery of the baby.
Transfusions must not be done if blood has not been screened against herpes virus. Donors must be carefully examined before donating blood to avoid herpes virus infection. Herpes is a dangerous virus just like any other viruses therefore care should be taken.
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How Is Hsv Treated During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding
You can treat cold sores and genital herpes with:
- aciclovir cream, available from a pharmacist without prescription
- aciclovir or valaciclovir or famciclovir tablets, for which you need a prescription
These antiviral drugs are known to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and are effective most of the time.
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Herpes Simplex Virus Infections
The herpes simplex virus causes a variety of infections, characterized by dormant periods with no symptoms and sporadic outbreaks of red, itchy, painful blisters. Generally, there are two types of herpes: genital herpes and oral herpes . However, herpes lesions from both types can be found anywhere on the body, including on the skin, mouth, eyes, and genitals.
Type 1 infections are most often found on the mouth, while type 2 infections tend to occur in the genital area.
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My Partner Has Herpes How Can I Avoid Getting It And And Still Have A Fulfilling Sex Life
I just found out the guy Ive been seeing for a couple weeks has herpes. Im full of questions, but one question I keep dwelling on is, how can people get pregnant without passing on herpes to their partner? How can I avoid getting herpes and still have a fulfilling sex life with him?
Its normal to have complicated feelings after you find out that your partner has herpes. Millions of people are living with herpes, and sharing your concerns with your partner and educating yourself on how its spread are good ways to protect yourself.
Genital herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it including . Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Here are other ways to avoid getting herpes from your partner:
Talk with your partner about taking herpes medicine every day, which can lower their chances of spreading herpes.
Dont have sex during a herpes outbreak, even with a condom. There may be sores on places the condom doesnt cover. Wait until the sores are totally gone, and the scabs heal and fall off.
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What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
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How To Treat And Prevent Herpes During Pregnancy
Since many people are unaware of the fact that they have herpes, its very important to get a full STI screening during pregnancy. Your partner should also get tested. Herpes tests are included in TORCH syndrome screening, which your doctor could order before or during pregnancy.
If you develop a primary HSV outbreak during your pregnancy, youll probably receive oral antiviral drugs. These medications can shorten the duration of the outbreak and reduce your symptoms. These are the most commonly used medications to treat herpes:
Intravenous antivirals could be recommended for pregnant women with severe genital herpes or disseminated infection. Women who suffer recurrent herpes outbreaks while pregnant at or beyond week 36 of pregnancy usually also receive oral antivirals.
Its very important to check whether you have any active herpetic genital lesions before birth.
If you have active herpes during pregnancy, your doctor could recommend scheduling a C-section. But mothers who were infected with HSV before pregnancy or during the first trimester may still have a vaginal delivery, depending on their status during delivery. Its very important to check whether you have any active herpetic genital lesions before birth.