Can You Have A Healthy Pregnancy With Herpes
A person with herpes has a good chance of having a healthy pregnancy. Because herpes lies dormant for months or years at a time, some pregnant individuals may not experience an outbreak during their pregnancy.
Most people with herpes have mild symptoms, although first-time infections can be more severe.
If You Get A Positive Result Don’t Panic It Really Doesn’t Mean Much
All of this is to say that unless you have symptoms consistent with the herpes virus, why put yourself through the emotional turmoil of getting a blood test that may or may not give you legit results? As Hutcherson notes, if you do get a blood test and it comes back positive but you’re asymptomatic, what does that mean for you if you have nothing to treat? For many, due to the high rate of stigma still surrounding herpes, it can mean feelings of self-contempt, humiliation, and distress, all of which could be avoided if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
To recap, while there are some tests for herpes that can prove correct, none are 100 percent perfect, and blood tests are particularly problematic since they can produce false positives and negatives. We also know that the majority of the population has some form of herpes, so IMO it’s a mystery as to why we’re still making a big deal out of it. No one likes blisters or sores, but neither does anyone love having acne, a widespread condition without the same level of attached shame.
Staying Safe While Avoiding Panic And Stigma
It can be tempting to freak out a little bit when you realize that herpes is both super-common and something you arent routinely getting tested for. So how do you process that information?
The first step is practicing the same safe sex that you know helps protect you from other STIs. Your best bet here is a barrier method like internal and external condoms for any penetration and physical shields such as dental dams for any oral play. Even though this wont fully protect you from herpes , it will reduce how much of your skin touches your partners.
This is why screening for herpes infection in the absence of any symptoms wouldnt really do much to cut back on casesthe advice would be the same: Practice safe sex with barrier methods. I agree right now with the recommendations not to screen people, but I think if we had a better diagnostic strategy, I would be much more in favor of routine screenings, Dr. Johnston says. It is important for people to know their status so they can protect themselves and their partners.
If you think you have herpes, see a doctor such as your ob/gyn or dermatologist , or go to your local health clinic. A medical expert can evaluate your symptoms, take samples for testing, and eventually offer treatment options if you need them.
You will likely be started on antiviral medications to help you heal faster and make you less contagious, Dr. Bard says.
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Can Herpes Just Go Away
The answer is yes.
Herpes is a virus that can be managed and controlled, but it will never go away completely. Once you get herpes, you have it for life. Can herpes just go away?
The good news is that viral shedding when the virus is active and can be passed to others decreases over time in most people with genital herpes. The bad news is that youll always have the virus in your body and will never be able to cure it.
What Do The Results Mean
Your HSV test results will be given as negative, also called normal, or positive, also called abnormal.
Negative/Normal. The herpes virus was not found. You may still have an HSV infection if your results were normal. It may mean the sample didn’t have enough of the virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to get tested again.
Positive/Abnormal. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection , or were infected in the past .
If you tested positive for HSV, talk to your health care provider. While there is no cure for herpes, it hardly ever causes serious health problems. Some people may only have one outbreak of sores their whole lives, while others break out more often. If you want to reduce the severity and number of your outbreaks, your provider may prescribe a medicine that can help.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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There Are Two Common Blood Tests Used To Identify Herpes And They’re Often Misleading
“I had a patient once who underwent this test, which was positive, and was told she has herpes, which to her was devastating and life-altering,” Friedman says. “She burst into tears when I explained the significance or lack thereof with this test, which is very misleading.” There are two common blood tests used to identify herpes: IgG and IgM. The IgM test is still used by some doctors even though it has been denounced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . According to the American Sexual Health Association , IgM tests can lead to deceptive results, as well as false assumptions about how and when a person acquired HSV.
And that’s not all: IgM tests fail to accurately distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies, leading them to provide false-positive results for HSV-2. In other words, if you’ve been exposed to oral herpes , results of the IgM test could lead you to believe you’re positive for genital herpes, when in fact you simply have antibodies against HSV-1.
IgG tests, on the other hand, are more accurate, but aren’t without their own issues. For instance, ASHA says that while an IgG test can distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2, the problem is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach a detectable level varies from person to person. This means that even with accurate results, someone could get a false-negative if they have the test administered too soon after contracting the virus .
Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
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Herpes Is Very Commonand Not Easy To Spread
The CDC estimates that between 2015 and 2016 nearly 50 percent of the population had HSV-1, which is typically associated with cold sores but can cause genital herpes through oral sex, and about 12 percent of the population had HSV-2, which is usually genital herpes. But if youve never had any herpes symptoms, youre highly unlikely to spread the disease since its most likely to spread during an outbreak. And even when people know they have herpes, studies show that the knowledge doesn’t necessarily change their behavior. Meaning, if they were going to have unprotected sex anyway, knowing they have herpes won’t stop them.
How Is It Passed On
Most HSV type 1 infections are acquired during childhood.
You cannot get genital herpes from sharing baths or towels, from swimming pools, toilet seats or from sharing cups, plates or cutlery.
The virus will not pass through a condom but as condoms do not cover all of the genital area it is possible to infect genital skin that is not covered by the condom.
If you already have one type of HSV it is still possible for you to get the other type .
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Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is no known risk to having a swab test.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.
Why Should I Get Tested
Genital herpes does not often show signs or symptoms until you have an outbreak. If you have had unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes, then you may have caught it too. It is important to get tested so that you do not pass it on to someone else.
It is very important to get tested if you are a pregnant woman and have a partner with genital herpes. This is because your baby could also become infected if you get genital herpes too. Herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening.
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How Can Herpes Be Tested/checked
Better2Know has three ways of testing for the Herpes virus:
- Blood Test if you have no symptoms
- Urine Test if you currently have symptoms
- Swab Test if you have a blister or other lesion for swabbing to see if it is caused by HSV.
At Better2Know, you can choose your test method: urine or a swab if you have symptoms, and blood if you do not. Results are available within 25 working days from us receiving your sample depending on which sample is taken. The test will tell you whether you have HSV-1, HSV-2, both types or neither.
At selected private sexual health clinics, Better2Know also provides instant Herpes testing. With this exclusive, popular Herpes testing option, you will receive your results from 10 minutes after sample collection.
You can also get a Home Sample Collection Kit by visiting our Home STI Tests page.
When Should You Get Tested
The best time to get tested for herpes varies, depending on what’s happening.
If you’re exhibiting symptoms of an initial outbreak which include pain, itching and redness of the affected location fatigue, fever and chills and, ultimately, painful sores or ulcers it’s best to see a healthcare professional about getting tested.
However, if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus and aren’t yet exhibiting symptoms, HSV may take some time before being able to show results on a test. While the exact time frame is unknown and varies from person to person, two weeks is usually enough time to yield accurate test results.
Most people become concerned about being infected with the herpes virus after contact with a potentially infected person. Often, simple things like kissing someone with a visible cold sore or facial acne around the lips can cause concern about HSV-1.
For genital herpes, most people become concerned about potentially being infected after sexual contact with a person that shows symptoms of herpes. This can include oral sex with someone that has cold sores, which can potentially spread to the genitals.
Since herpes is asymptomatic in many people, you could be infected with the virus even if you dont have any symptoms.
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Gonorrhea May Become Resistant To All Antibiotics Sooner Than Anticipated
Some research has shown that two-step testing might improve the specificity that is avoid false positive results for the blood test which would be a great thing because these diagnoses create great anxiety and concern for people, he said. In a commentary accompanying the USPSTF guidelines, Hook expressed disappointment that herpes testing had barely improved over the past decade.
There is no perfect test but there are ways to reduce the inaccuracies and reduce the number of equivocal results and those are actively used in other diseases, he said in an interview with STAT. But they havent been used very aggressively for the purpose of herpes.
In the absence of sure-fire test advances, education and a lessening stigma surrounding herpes might help, not only by reducing test-related confusion, but potentially by bringing discussion of the virus out into the mainstream, said Hook.
Theres no major herpes advocacy group, he said. People call attention to diseases that they suffer from, but people with herpes dont feel they can call attention to it. And that creates a lot of suffering.
In The Absence Of Answers
Herpes tests arent the only ones with a risk of false positive results. False positives can occur for any test that diagnoses viral infection based on antibodies, i.e., your bodys immune reaction, rather than direct detection of the virus. For similar diagnostics like HIV and hepatitis C testing, protocols automatically call for a second test that directly detects the virus whenever an antibody test comes back positive, said Paul Swenson, laboratory director in the department of public health of King County, Washington. Herpes, however, is a particularly challenging infection to directly test for, because the virus spends most of its time hiding in nerves. Swab tests can sometimes detect the virus during outbreaks, but this isnt an option for people without symptoms. Thus even the Western blot relies on antibodies, and may give indeterminate results to a small number of people.
But two steps of antibody testing are still more reliable than one step todays diagnostics for Lyme disease and syphilis are a two-step antibody testing approach, said Dr. Edward Hook, a medical epidemiologist specializing in STI screening and prevention at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who questioned why such a standardized two-step approach hasnt taken firm hold for herpes.
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Why Doctors Dont Automatically Test You For Herpes
OK, clearly herpes is super common. So why dont doctors automatically test for it when you ask to get tested for everything? To answer that question, its important to understand the difference between STI testing and STI screening. Testing is done when you have symptoms, whereas screening is done in the absence of symptomsjust to check to see if youve been exposed.
Doctors will screen for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia even in the absence of symptoms. This is key from a public health perspective because catching these infections in time can prevent serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This happens when an untreated STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia infects reproductive organs, possibly leading to infertility.
Experts dont screen for herpes for a few reasons.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force has recommended against screening asymptomatic adolescents and adults for HSV infections. The rationale is that there is no health benefit thats been proven and there a couple of risks, Dr. Johnston says. One is a false positive test, and the second is a risk of anxiety is not associated with serious health outcomes, yet its still feared.
Even pregnant people who could theoretically risk passing the virus during childbirth are not screened unless they have a history of herpes outbreaks or a current outbreak, Peter Leone, M.D., of UNCs Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, tells SELF.
How Can You Test For Herpes At Home
Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease that can be spread through any skin-to-skin contact during outbreaks. You can test for herpes at home by swabbing the sores and then sending it to a lab for testing.
There are several different types of herpes, but two strains that are most often tested for are HSV-1 and HSV-2.
HSV-1 is the virus that causes cold sores and fever blisters around your mouth or on your lips, while HSV-2 affects the genital area.
If you think you have herpes, there are several ways to test for it at home:
Get swabbed by a doctor: If you get diagnosed with genital herpes after an outbreak occurs, your doctor will take a swab from the infected area in order to test if its HSV-1 or HSV-2. The doctor will then send this sample to a lab where they will look at the DNA of the virus under a microscope and compare it to other samples of known strains in order to confirm what type of herpes you have.
Get swabbed yourself: You can also take swabs yourself if youre worried about getting tested by your doctor because they may not be able to tell whether or
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How Does Herpes Affect Pregnancy
A pregnant person usually experiences the same herpes symptoms as nonpregnant individuals.
Around 75% of women with herpes will experience a flare-up during pregnancy, but there is no evidence that pregnancy triggers flare-ups.
If a person has herpes for the first time while pregnant, the risks to an unborn fetus are higher than if they have caught herpes before being pregnant. Initial herpes infections are also usually more severe than recurrent infections.
A doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, to treat herpes during pregnancy. These can cause side effects in some people.
, including brain damage, eye issues, or even infant death.
The risk of neonatal herpes is highest when a pregnant person contracts HSV in the third trimester of their pregnancy. The risk is also higher if a pregnant person has an outbreak around the time of childbirth. During natural childbirth, a baby can come into contact with the virus as they move through the cervix and vaginal canal.
The risk of neonatal herpes is lower if a person develops herpes before or at the beginning of pregnancy. The body will have enough time to produce protective antibodies, which the pregnant individual will pass on to the child through the placenta.
How Long Can Herpes Go Undetected
Once youve contracted HSV, there will be an incubation period the time it takes from contracting the virus until the first symptom appears.
The incubation period for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is the same: 2 to 12 days. For most people, the symptoms begin to show up in about 3 to 6 days.
However, according to the
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