Can Herpes Be Transmitted To An Infant During Pregnancy Or Delivery
When babies contract herpes, its known as neonatal herpes. Also called birth-acquired herpes, neonatal herpes can happen if your baby is exposed to genital herpes during vaginal delivery.
Neonatal herpes is considered rare, but when it does happen, there can be serious complications, such as permanent injury to the babys nervous system, developmental disabilities, and death.
The risk to your baby is greatest if you acquire HSV for the first time during the third trimester of pregnancy. Thats because the levels of the HSV in your system will be highest during that time, and youll have fewer protective antibodies to pass on to the baby prior to delivery.
If you contract a genital herpes infection during the third trimester, the risk of passing the virus to your baby during delivery is
What If I Have A Cold Sore While Breastfeeding
If you have cold sores, it is safe to breastfeed your baby as long as the cold sores are not on the breast or nipple.
If they are, it may be wise to breastfeed from the unaffected nipple only until the lesions have cleared up. You would express and dispose of breastmilk from the affected nipple. Breastmilk itself doesn’t contain the herpes virus but it can be contaminated through the skin lesions.
Talk to your doctor or midwife as soon as you notice any cold sores on your breast or nipple.
The Bottom Line: Tests For Herpes Are More Worry Than Theyre Worth
If you do have symptoms, donât fret: If you know your status, youâre at an advantage in that you can talk with your doctor and find an antiviral drug that works for you. Medication can curtail the severity of your symptoms, as well as the number of outbreaks you get. Additionally, taking an antiviral daily will greatly reduce your chances of transmitting the virus to someone else. In case you missed it, thereâs also a very promising new drug for herpes on the horizon, which researchers say could be the most effective one yet.
Take it straight from the pros and donât put yourself through the stress of a herpes blood test if you donât need to. And, whether you have symptoms or not, know that youâre not alone if you are herpes-positive.
Read more stories on herpes facts and myths:
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Best Affordable Herpes Test: Healthlabs
HealthLabs offers laboratory-based herpes tests. These may be the best option for people who do not have health insurance and those working with small budgets.
|does not require appointments and accepts walk-ins|
|Con||requires a visit to a laboratory for a healthcare professional to collect the sample|
After placing an order, the person receives a laboratory requisition form, which they need to print out and present at a laboratory. The company claims it has 4,500 laboratory locations, and individuals should receive their test results within 23 business days.
HealthLabs has three herpes tests available for purchase:
- a test for HSV-1, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-2, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-1 and HSV-2, which costs $79
People may also order at-home tests for other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.
|offers tests for early detection of herpes|
|Con||requires a visit to a laboratory|
To order either herpes test, a person must access the company website and enter their ZIP code to find their nearest testing center.
The company claims it has over 4,000 private test centers across the United States.
After ordering the herpes test, a person can walk into their local center to receive the testing. An appointment is not necessary.
The test procedure involves a simple blood test and urine sample, which typically takes a matter of minutes. A person can expect to receive their online test results within 13 days.
What About Mental Health
We also know that due to the stigma, learning that you are positive for herpes can impact your mental health. Research shows that people diagnosed with herpes are more likely to become depressed, withdraw socially, and experience reduced self-esteem. The shame associated with contracting herpes can make a big impact on a persons quality of life. This is despite the fact that its a common virus that affects people of all walks of life, all social circles, and all socioeconomic classes. It not only affects people who have casual sex partners but also people who limit their sexual behavior to monogamous relationships. It can even affect people who have only had one partner.
I can almost guarantee you know multiple people who have genital herpes even if no one has ever told you. Also, many cases of genital herpes occur as a result of oral sex from someone who has a history of cold sores .
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How Can I Get Tested For Genital Herpes
If you have symptoms, the best test is a viral culture. To perform this test, your health care provider must take a sample from a herpes outbreak while it is active, preferably on the first day. Test results are available in about a week.
If you dont have symptoms, a blood test can tell you whether you carry HSV-2, the type of herpes that usually infects the genital tract. A blood test may also tell you whether you have HSV-1, but in many cases this simply means you have oral herpes.
Ask your doctor about these tests as they differ regionally and some tests are not accurate. Also the doctor needs to be aware how to interpret the test in light of the clinical presentation.
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Do They Test For Herpes Simplex 2 During Pregnancy
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What Are The Complications Of Having Herpes And Being Pregnant
Most people who have herpes when theyre pregnant will not have any complications. In rare cases, herpes infection during pregnancy can be transmitted to the newborn. This can potentially cause serious or even life-threatening disseminated neonatal herpes.
The more likely complication of having herpes when youre pregnant is that your doctor might recommend that you have a C-section instead of giving birth vaginally.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About An Hsv Test
The best way to prevent genital herpes or another STD is to not have sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of infection by
- Being in a long-term relationship with one partner who has tested negative for STDs
- Using condoms correctly every time you have sex
If you’ve been diagnosed with genital herpes, condom use can reduce your risk of spreading the infection to others.
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Screening Methods To Prevent Vertical Hsv Transmission
In the early 1980s, weekly cervical cultures starting at 34 weeks were the standard in asymptomatic pregnant women with a history of genital HSV infection. If the last culture prior to labor was positive for HSV, a cesarean delivery was recommended. However, later studies demonstrated that most women with asymptomatic antepartum shedding were culture-negative during labor. Additionally, those women with positive intrapartum cultures were often negative during the antepartum period.
In 1988, the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology developed a position statement that recommended the following practices :
Abandon weekly cervical cultures.
In the absence of active lesions or prodromal symptoms, vaginal delivery should be allowed.
At the time of delivery, consider obtaining a herpes culture from the mother or the neonate for the benefit of the pediatricians.
Herpes cultures, when obtained, should be obtained from the cervix and the site of recurrence.
If there is an active herpetic lesion, cesarean delivery should be performed, preferably within 4-6 hours of membrane rupture.
If there is a recent infection near term, check cervical cultures every 3-5 days until results are negative.
Several analyses evaluated the cost-effectiveness of screening protocols in pregnant patients to decrease the risk of neonatal transmission however, the results have been variable. Currently, there is no evidence for routine screening for antepartum genital HSV infection.
When Is It Ordered
HSV PCR testing or herpes culture may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of a herpes infection, such as a blister or blisters on or around your eye, mouth, genitals or rectum.
Herpes PCR testing may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of encephalitis that a healthcare practitioner suspects may be caused by a virus. Examples of these signs and symptoms include:
Prenatal and newborn testing
- A pregnant woman who has been diagnosed with herpes may be monitored regularly prior to delivery to detect a reactivation of her infection.
- A baby born to a mother who has active lesions during delivery may be tested before symptoms appear to assess whether the baby was exposed to HSV during delivery.
- A mother and newborn may be tested for HSV soon after delivery when a baby shows signs of HSV infection, such as meningitis or skin lesions that could be caused by the herpes virus.
HSV antibody testing may be done when your healthcare practitioner wants to determine if you have been exposed to HSV in the past.
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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.
Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
The herpes simplex virus causes genital herpes. There are many types of herpes viruses. Both herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2 can infect the genital area.
Commonly the cause of ‘cold sores’, HSV 1 tends to occur in the upper half of the body, mainly around the lips and mouth. HSV 1 can also infect the genital area. HSV 2 is more commonly the cause of genital herpes. Both viruses are passed from one person to another by close body contact.
If you are pregnant and you get genital herpes, it is important to tell your midwife or obstetrician.
If you are someone who has herpes, the risk of transmission of herpes to your baby is small. However, there is some risk of transmission if there is a herpes lesion around your genital area while you are in labour.
In pregnancy, herpes simplex virus may cause problems. The most likely time this can happen is if the woman has a first ever infection that causes symptoms in the first part of the pregnancy or at the time of delivery . Women who are pregnant and have a sex partner who has a history of HSV may decide to use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy or the partner mayy take suppressive treatment through the pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission.
The most common outcome is for the mother to pass herpes virus onto the baby at the time of delivery. By talking to your doctor about your history of herpes, precautions can be taken to prevent this from occurring.
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How Do Prior Herpes Outbreaks Affect My Pregnancy
If youve had previous herpes outbreaks, they wont necessarily affect your pregnancy. Unless you have an outbreak during pregnancy, no treatment is needed or recommended.
There is some limited evidence that suppressive therapy starting at 36 weeks of gestation may be helpful. However, in the absence of outbreaks, there is no need to change your pregnancy or delivery plans.
What Does The Test Result Mean
Direct detection of the virus
- A positive HSV DNA test or culture indicates that you have an active herpes infection, and the result may indicate if it is HSV-1 or HSV-2.
- A negative PCR test or culture indicates that the herpes simplex virus was not detected, but this does not definitely rule out an infection. False negatives can occur if there is not enough active virus in the sample. This may happen if the lesion is cultured more than 48 hours after the symptoms appear. If suspicion of herpes remains high, repeat testing may be done.
Antibody blood tests
- A positive HSV-1 or HSV-2 IgG antibody test means antibodies are present in your blood, which means you have had an infection in the past even if you haven’t noticed any symptoms. The type of antibody detected indicates the type of HSV infection.
- Negative HSV antibody results mean that it is unlikely that you have been exposed to HSV or it may mean that your body has not had time to begin producing HSV antibodies.
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Genital Herpes Is Common Shouldnt Cdc Recommend Testing For Everyone
CDC recommends herpes testing for people who have genital symptoms to confirm if they have it. Testing allows a healthcare provider to talk with patients about what to expect in the future. This includes talking about medications that help with symptoms. Providers can also tell patients how to lower the risk of transmitting herpes to sex partner.
CDC does not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms in most situations. This is because of the limits of a herpes blood test and the possibility of a wrong test result. The chances of wrong test results are higher for people who are at low risk of infection.
Blood tests might be useful if:
- You have genital symptoms that could be related to herpes, or
- You have a sex partner with genital herpes, or
- Your provider found signs of herpes, but you still need a test to confirm it.
If you are sexually active, talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider about what tests are right for you. These tips can help.
What Happens During A Herpes Test
If you have blisters or sores, your doctor or nurse will gently take a sample of fluid from the sores with a swab and test it.
If you dont have any sores, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether a blood test for herpes makes sense for you. But herpes tests arenât normally recommended unless you do have symptoms.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. And herpes tests are quick and usually painless.
It can be stressful to know that having genital herpes during pregnancy means there is a possibility your child could become infected with the virus during labor or shortly after a vaginal delivery.
Because of this, and the potential of serious consequences of infection in babies , women with genital herpes are often advised to consider a Cesarean delivery instead of a vaginal one. That said, this may not be necessary in all cases.
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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.
Blood Type And Rh Status And Antibody Screen
Blood tests will check your blood type, your Rh status, and an antibody screen. Your blood type needs to be checked so that a potential mix-up of bloods can be averted if there is a need for a transfusion.
Rh-negative women need to be identified in advance so that they can be considered as candidates for RhoGAM, an immunoglobulin that is given at 28 weeks of pregnancy and within 72 hours of delivery in order for the mother to keep from becoming Rh sensitized. Occasionally, RhoGAM is also given when there is a potential risk for fetal blood to mix with the mothers blood, such as in a car accident or in amniocentesis.
Why its important : Giving this medication prevents the mothers body from mounting an antibody response against an Rh positive baby in future pregnancies. An antibody screen detects antibodies, both Rh and less common types, that may occur in the fetus or newborn.
Why its important : Antibodies have the potential for causing blood disease in the fetus and newborn.
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Can Herpes Simplex Virus Cause Serious Infections
Yes. The most serious, or life-threatening, HSV infections can occur in newborns who are infected during birth and in individuals with weakened immune systems , such as organ transplant recipients and people with HIV/AIDS. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition, but also very rare. While 25-30% of pregnant women have genital herpes, less than 0.1% of babies born in the U.S. each year get neonatal herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
HSV lesions tend to be more extensive and persist longer in newborns and immunocompromised people than in individuals who have healthy immune systems.
Do They Normally Test For Herpes When You Are Pregnant
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Herpes is not part of the routine tests performed during the first prenatal visit. However you can request a blood test at any time.
I have been with the same partner for over a year and a half now, have never had any signs of herpes, but i recently broke out with blisters down there after using a yeast infection medicine, i don’t know what to think about this
Herpes can present with blisters they are usually sensitive. It may also be an allergic reaction to a new hygiene product. Have your provider take a look at it.
is it possible that it could be herpes even if i’ve never had an outbreak and have been with the same person for such a long period of time? It is just a very embarrassing situation, i am pretty positive he has been faithful as well
Yes it is possible but first get the test before worrying.
ok, thank you very much for your help today!