How Is Herpes Diagnosed In Pregnancy
If you or your partner experience any of the above symptoms, check in with your doctor. A health care provider may be able to identify your sores via an exam, but a lab test is necessary to diagnose a case of genital herpes.
A sample is taken from the fluid inside a sore and then tested to see if it contains the virus and, if it does, what type of HSV is present. A blood test can check for antibodies and therefore diagnose HSV and its type but it cant determine how the infection was contracted or how long youve had the virus.
Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
What Do I Do If I Find Out I Have Herpes
Its normal to have lots of different feelings after you find out that you have herpes. You might feel mad, embarrassed, ashamed, or upset at first. But youll probably feel a lot better as time goes by, and you see that having herpes doesnt have to be a big deal. People with herpes have relationships and live totally normal lives. There are treatments for herpes, and theres a lot you can do to make sure you dont give herpes to anyone you have sex with.
Millions and millions of people have herpes youre definitely not alone. Most people get at least one STD in their lifetime, and having herpes or another STD is nothing to feel ashamed of or embarrassed about. It doesnt mean youre dirty or a bad person it means youre a normal human who got a really common infection. The reality is that herpes can happen to anybody who has ever been kissed on the lips or had sex thats a LOT of people.
Herpes isnt deadly and it usually doesnt cause any serious health problems. While herpes outbreaks can be annoying and painful, the first flare-up is usually the worst. For many people, outbreaks happen less over time and may eventually stop completely. Even though the virus hangs around in your body for life, it doesnt mean youll be getting sores all the time.
And tell anyone you have sex with that you have herpes. Its not the easiest conversation, but its an important one. Here are some tips:
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Viral Shedding Without An Outbreak
A large 2011 study published in JAMA investigated how often people with symptom-free herpes infections shed the virus and how much virus they shed.
The researchers found that people with asymptomatic genital HSV-2 shed detectable levels of virus 10% of the time. That’s about half as often as people with symptomatic infections. However, the amount of virus they shed was similar.
Other studies showed that pregnant women with a history of recurrent genital herpes infections have a 1.4% rate of shedding at the time of delivery.
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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How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
How Herpes May Affect Infant Health
In many cases, you can have a healthy baby despite a herpes infection. However, the Institute for Quality and Efficacy in Healthcare conducted an analysis of factors affecting herpes transmissions during pregnancy and found the following:
- A baby can get sick if they acquire herpes from their infected mother during vaginal birth.
- A doctor might also suggest a mother take daily herpes suppressive therapy starting at 36 weeks to reduce the chance of passing the virus to the fetus.
- Herpes does not pass through breast milk, so you can safely breastfeed your baby. However, do not breastfeed if you have open herpes sores on your breasts or anywhere your baby can touch.
- If a mother has an active infection or is shedding the virus near term, a cesarean section is recommended to avoid the risk of newborn infection.
- Rarely, a fetus will acquire the herpes simplex virus from placental transmission from the mother during pregnancy. This can increase the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery, and it’s much more common in the last trimester of pregnancy.
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What Are The Consequences Of Giving The Infection To A Baby
Neonatal herpes is a serious condition, and in some cases, it can even be fatal. Neonatal herpes can cause different symptoms, which can be categorized as:
- Skin, eye, or mouth disease, a localized infection that doesnt affect other organs.
- Central nervous system disease, which causes encephalitis with or without SEM disease.
- Disseminated disease, which can involve the CNS, liver, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, adrenal glands, and SEM disease.
If a baby is born by vaginal delivery to a mother with a primary HSV infection during late pregnancy, they will usually receive antiviral treatment. These babies also need to be monitored and different tests are carried out to determine whether they have contracted the virus. The babys medical team will decide how to treat them depending on the severity of their infection.
What Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2 .
Genital herpes is contagious from when you get your first symptoms until the sores have healed.
Once you have had the virus, herpes simplex stays in your body in a nearby nerve. That means you could have another outbreak of genital herpes at any time.
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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.
What Are The Risks Of Genital Herpes In Pregnancy
If youre pregnant and you think that you have genital herpes, give your midwife or GP a shout straight away .
Genital herpes wont put you at higher risk of a miscarriage but it can be passed onto babies during pregnancy. It can cause a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
Neonatal herpes is rare in the UK but risks are highest if you get a new infection in your third trimester or within six weeks of having your baby .
If youre pregnant and have genital herpes, youll be referred to a genitourinary medicine physician for treatment .
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What Are The Chances Of Spreading The Infection To A Baby
Most people who are infected with HSV dont even know that they have the virus. In fact, nearly 80 percent of all babies who contract neonatal herpes are born to mothers who didnt report having HSV before.
The risk of passing HSV to the fetus varies greatly depending on when the mother was infected. If you were infected with herpes before your pregnancy and have a herpes outbreak while pregnant, the chance of passing the infection to your baby is less than 1 percent. The risk is so low because your body has already had time to develop antibodies against the virus.
Its estimated that the incidence of neonatal herpes in the United States is 1 per 15,000 live births.
Women who contract herpes during the later stages of their pregnancy have a higher risk of passing the virus to their babies. The risk of neonatal herpes ranges between 3050 percent when a primary HSV infection occurs during late pregnancy.
There are many strains of the herpes virus, but the two that are commonly referred to as herpes are called herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2. Approximately one third to half of all cases of neonatal herpes are caused by HSV-1. Its estimated that the incidence of neonatal herpes in the United States is 1 per 15,000 live births. However, these estimates vary greatly from location to location.
Risks Of Herpes During Pregnancy
The major risk associated with herpes and pregnancy is neonatal herpes infections. These infections of the newborn are rare, but can be quite serious or even fatal. The biggest risk for neonatal herpes occurs for people who are newly infected during pregnancyparticularly near the time of delivery.
Cesarean section is recommended instead of vaginal delivery for people who have genital symptoms at the time of delivery. It is also recommended for people who are having prodromal symptoms that signal a likely outbreak. C-section has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of herpes transmission to the infant.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
Genital Herpes And Early Pregnancy First And Second Trimester
Having a primary infection of genital herpes at this time will not affect the baby or cause a miscarriage. We now know there is no evidence for herpes causing a miscarriage when a mother catches genital herpes in the first three months although we used to think that there was an increased risk. Catching herpes will not cause miscarriage.
Having outbreaks during pregnancy is normal. These will not harm the baby. Some women have more outbreaks during pregnancy. You may choose to take aciclovir 400 mg three times daily from 36th week of pregnancy to ensure you dont have an outbreak at term.
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Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
Time Intercourse To Your Most Fertile Days
To limit unprotected intercourse to only your most fertile days, and therefore decrease the chance of sharing the virus, it is helpful to know a few things about your body and your signs of fertility. One of the best ways to do this is by monitoring your most fertile days by using an ovulation predictor kit . An OPK is up to 99% accurate as a predictor of when ovulation is likely to occur. The at-home urine test measures the pituitary luteinizing hormone , which increases as you approach ovulation.
- The day you see your strongly positive result is the day of the biggest increase in your LH secretion from your pituitary gland. This “LH surge” is what triggers release of an egg from your ovary .
- In the average 28-day menstrual cycle, you will see this result around day 12 or 13. It will be easier to figure out your fertile window if your cycles are regular.
- The LH surge predicts that ovulation will likely occur 24 to 36 hours later – around day 13 to 14 of a 28-day cycle.
Have intercourse the day of the surge and about 36 hours later. This is your best fertile window for live sperm to catch the egg while it is still fertilizable. The timing takes into account the lifespan of the sperm and the egg. According to Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, sperm can survive in a woman’s reproductive track for three to five days. The egg is only viable for fertilization from 12 to 24 hours.
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How Can I Manage Herpes During Pregnancy
There is no evidence to suggest pregnancy causes flare-ups. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says 75% of pregnant women who have herpes, however, can expect to have an outbreak during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you should watch for symptoms of the virus becoming active, such as tingling, itching, or burning around where the sore will eventually appear.
If you have a history of herpes , your provider may prescribe an antiviral medication such as acyclovir to reduce the risk of spreading the virus or having an outbreak around the time of your delivery.
We typically recommend starting an antiviral at 36 weeks or sooner if you are at risk for preterm birth. The antiviral medications are safe during pregnancy. In fact, we can give the same medications to your baby if needed.
Can You Give Birth Naturally If You Have Herpes
Most people with herpes can have a vaginal birth. A doctor can test the skin for signs of herpes shortly before the birth. If a person shows signs of infection, doctors may recommend a C-section to lower the risk of transmitting the infection to the baby.
C-sections lower this risk by delivering the baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus. This prevents them from contracting the virus in the birth canal.
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Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
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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Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner about their risk. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.
A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.