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.
How Is It Treated
Although there is no cure, medicine can relieve pain and itching and help sores heal faster. If you have a lot of outbreaks, you may take medicine every day to limit the number of outbreaks.
After the first outbreak, some people have just a few more outbreaks over their lifetime, while others may have 4 to 6 outbreaks a year. Usually the number of outbreaks decreases after a few years.
Treatment works best if it is started as soon as possible after the start of an outbreak. This is especially true for outbreaks that come back again and again.
Finding out that you have herpes may cause you to feel bad about yourself or about sex. Counselling or a support group may help you feel better.
How To Avoid Herpes Infection
Condoms cut the risk of getting or passing on herpes if they cover the affected area.
Other types of contraception, such as the contraceptive pill, offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections .
Wash your hands after touching blisters, especially before handling contact lenses because herpes can cause an eye infection.
Avoid things that trigger herpes outbreaks such as a lack of sleep, sunbathing or stress.
Having herpes could make it easier for someone to get or pass on HIV. But if HIV drugs have made your viral load undetectable then you cannot pass on HIV.
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When Did You Get Tested
If today you had sex without a barrier with a person who has an STI and subsequently contracted the STI and then got tested tomorrow, that test would be negative.
Thats because when you first contract an STI your body, needs time to recognize it, then produce antibodies to help fight it.
This is known as the incubation period, and it can vary for each STI.
Gersh says that the general recommendation is for folks to get tested 2 weeks after potential exposure and then again 3 months after.
If you or your partner were tested too soon after initial contraction, the results may not be accurate.
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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What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes
If you have genital herpes:
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
- Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
- Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
- Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
- Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.
What If You And Your Partner Already Have Genital Herpes
Surprise, surprise, you can still get oral herpes!
Lets just say that you are in a happy relationship and both you and your partner have genital herpes. If you give your partner a blow job, regardless of what strain they have, you may end up with oral herpes.
- If you have HSV-2 on your genitals, your partner can still give you HSV-1 on your mouth.
- If you have HSV-2 on your mouth, your partner can still give you HSV-1 on your genitals.
- If you have HSV-2 on your genitals, your partner can still give you HSV-2 on your mouth.
- If you have HSV-2 on your mouth, your partner can still give you HSV-2 on your genitals.
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Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
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Factors Affecting The Probability Of Transmission
The probability of herpes transmission among couples if one of the partners has the infection depends on various factors, such as the clinical manifestation of the disease , frequency of sexual intercourse, and time since the herpes-positive partner was infected. In general, it is more common to get herpes from someone newly infected. Also, a person with other sexually transmitted infections is at higher risk of contracting herpes through sexual intercourse with a herpes-positive partner.3
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Talk To Your Doctor About Antiviral Medications
There are two brands of antiviral medications available to treat herpes. Either can be used to take daily as a suppressive therapy or episodically when there is an outbreak. Discuss with your doctor how often you are experiencing outbreaks and your symptoms. Together you can decide which, if any, medication is best for you.
What You Need To Know Herpes And Pregnancy
If you have herpes and are expectant, its wise to go to prenatal care visits. Tell the physician if you have ever had genital herpes or have ever been exposed to the STD. According to the CDC, the virus can result in a miscarriage or increase your likelihood of early delivery.
The virus can be transmitted to your baby before birth, but it is more common during vaginal delivery. If you are already infected, your doctor might offer you anti-herpes medication at the end of the pregnancy. During delivery, any experienced medical practitioner should examine you for sores, among other symptoms. If youve symptoms at childbirth, you will undergo a cesarean section.
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What If I Am Pregnant
It is important to tell your obstetrician that you or a partner have had genital herpes, so that they can monitor you for symptoms and manage your pregnancy safely. There is a risk you can pass the virus on to your baby if you have a vaginal delivery during a first attack of genital herpes. If this happens you may be recommended to have a caesarean delivery.
Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
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How Do I Know If I Have Herpes
The best way for a clinician to determine if someone is infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 is to perform a laboratory analysis on a sample from a fresh herpes sore. But, because not everyone with herpes has symptoms, your clinician may instead use a blood test that can detect antibodies to the herpes viruses. A blood test can show if you have herpes and, if so, determine whether you are infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2. However, a blood test cannot tell you what part of your body the virus will affect.
If you want to be tested for herpes, ask your clinician. A standard screening for sexually transmitted diseases may not include herpes unless you specifically ask.
Remember, however, that HSV-1 is a very common virus, and there is a 5060 percent probability that you will test positive for it. If you are a sexually active adult who has had multiple partners, there is a 1020 percent probability that you will test positive for HSV-2.
Here are some other things to consider before you get tested:
- If you test negative for one or both of these viruses, what will you do to prevent them?
- If you test positive for one or both of these viruses, will you tell potential partners before you engage in sexual activity or, in the case of HSV-1, before you kiss them or engage in oral sex?
Learning that you have herpes can be confusing and scary. We encourage you to have an in-depth conversation with your healthcare provider before you decide to get tested.
What Happens If Herpes Is Left Untreated
Without treatment, sores and outbreaks usually heal on their own. Oral herpes is usually considered a mild infection, but complications may appear in people with weakened immune systems.
The risk of complications with genital herpes is also low, though these include inflammation, swelling, and pain.
Passing HSV-2 to a newborn can be dangerous, however. Doctors may recommend a Cesarean delivery to pregnant people with genital herpes, according to the .
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Can My Kids Use This Too
Many peer-reviewed clinical studies have shown light therapy to be safe and efficacious. However, if you have any concerns about using it with children, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. Please also note, all treatments with children should be done under adult supervision.
Started using this device during the middle of an outbreak I had while taking Acyclovir. Since using this treatment, Ive been able to get off meds.
Follow Easy Hygiene Best Practices
Several hygiene best practices serve as easy preventative measures to avoid accidentally spreading the virus to your partner.
- Keep the infected area clean and dry
- Avoid touching sores
- Wash your hands immediately after any possible contact with sores
- DONâT pick at sores since this will cause infection
- DONâT make choices that you know can trigger an outbreak
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How To Reduce Your Risk Of Contracting Herpes
Because herpes is so common, millions of new people are infected with the virus every year. Often, new infections are asymptomatic, meaning you might not know that you have been infected for months or years after contact with the person responsible.
If you do contract herpes, particularly HSV-1, its important to remember that its a very common virus. Its also easily treatable, with a wide range of highly effective medications available in the event you have an outbreak.
With this said, there are several ways to lower your risk of contracting herpes, particularly HSV-2 :
Avoid risky sexual behavior, such as having sex with multiple partners without the use of protection.
If you want to have unprotected sex with your partner, ask them about their HSV-2 status and, if required, consider asking them to see a physician about getting a herpes test.
If youre not sure about your sexual partners HSV-2 status, use a condom to cover up the potentially infected area and reduce the risk of HSV-2 transmission.
Avoid sexual activity with people that have visible sores on their mouth or genitals, such as lesions that resemble small bumps or pimples.
How Do You Avoid Getting Or Passing On Genital Herpes
If either you or your partner has a herpes outbreak , its best to wait until the symptoms have cleared up before having sex.
Herpes can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys. To reduce your risk, either avoid sharing your sex toys or make sure that they are washed and covered with a new condom between each use.
Use a new dental dam or latex gloves for rimming and fingering or use latex gloves for fisting, especially if you get herpes on your hands.
Talking about your sexual health with your partners, and letting each other know about any infections that you have, can help you make decisions about safer sex together. Reducing your number of sexual partners can help you reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, like genital herpes. If you are having sex with multiple partners, its even more important to use condoms and to have regular STI checks.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
How Can I Prevent Giving Genital Herpes To My Partner
You can reduce the risk of passing the herpes virus to your sexual partners by taking the following steps:
Tell current sexual partners that you have genital herpes. You also should tell future partners before having sexual contact.
Be alert to the symptoms that signal an outbreak is coming. Avoid sexual contact from the time you feel symptoms until a few days after the sores have gone away.
Wash your hands with soap and water after any possible contact with sores.
Take antiviral medication on a daily basis .
Use male latex condoms.
Its also important to know that you can pass HSV to someone else even when you do not have sores . The virus can be present on skin that looks normal, including right before and after an outbreak.
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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.
Though several clinical trials have tested vaccines against genital herpes, there is no vaccine currently available to prevent infection. One vaccine trial showed efficacy among women whose partners had HSV-2, but only among women not infected with HSV-1. Efficacy was not observed among men whose partners had HSV-2. Another trial testing the same vaccine showed some protection from genital HSV-1 infection, but none from HSV-2.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
- If you get genital herpes during pregnancy, you can spread genital herpes to your baby during delivery.
- If you had genital herpes before pregnancy, your baby is still at risk of getting herpes, but the risk is lower.
Most women with genital herpes have healthy babies. But babies who get herpes from their mother have neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition that can cause problems in a newborn baby such as brain damage, eye problems, or even death.
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How To Tell Your Partner About The Herpes
Most people feel that their love lives are over once they discover they have herpes. Well, that is not the truth. Herpes patients have romantic relationships with one another or with persons without the STI.
Having conversations about STDs is not fun, but it is essential to tell your partner if you are infected. That way, you might prevent the condition from spreading.
Here are practical tips that might help to talk about it:
- Remain calm: Having the STI is a health condition and does not mean you are promiscuous. Therefore, go into the conversation with a positive and relaxed attitude. You can start the conversation by asking your partner if they have even had or been tested before.
- Know the facts: Be sure to read all the facts. It will help you let your sexual partner know there are methods to manage the condition and prevent transmission.
- Timing: Choose a time when you will not be interrupted or distracted and in a private place. If you are anxious, you can first talk through your friend or practice speaking in front of a mirror. It helps you know what you are confident in saying.
- If you think your partner might injure you, you can tell them using a phone call, text message, or email.
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