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.
How Can I Test For Herpes
Better2Know has three ways of testing for the virus:
- Blood test – Our standard test
- 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 the Herpes virus.
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 two to five working days from the sample being received in the lab depending on which sample is taken. The test will determine whether you have HSV I, HSV II, both types, or neither.
Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
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How Can Herpes Outbreaks In Pregnancy Be Treated
Because initial outbreaks of genital herpes usually cause more severe symptoms, they are often treated with aciclovir in pregnant women, too. If the symptoms are particularly severe, the medication can be given intravenously .
After that, further outbreaks are normally a lot milder, so antiviral drugs are often no longer used. But medication may be considered if the symptoms are severe or if complications arise.
If I Have Hiv Will I Transmit It To My Baby
Antiviral medications can lower the risk of transmitting HIV to your baby to less than 1% . If your HIV viral load is high, your doctor may suggest having a cesarean delivery to reduce the risk of HIV transmission during delivery.
In areas with clean water, using formula instead of breastfeeding is encouraged to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to the baby as well.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
When Should I Get Tested For Herpes
If you think you have been exposed to herpes, then you should get tested 12 days after exposure. Herpes has an incubation period of 2 to 12 days, so may not show up on a test before then. Otherwise, you should get tested for herpes when you have visible symptoms, such as blisters, as this can confirm whether your symptoms are the result of a herpes infection.
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Herpes Testing Should Be Mandatory
Both types of herpes type 1 which causes cold sores and can cause genital herpes and type 2 which causes most cases of genital herpes are potentially dangerous for babies.
The main risk of transmission is at delivery, as contact with HSV-infected secretions in the birth canal accounts for most neonatal HSV infection.
Kira believes that testing of pregnant women should be offered routinely on the NHS.
She said: I had no idea of HSV2 and throughout the pregnancy, it was never mentioned. My boy would be here today if I was tested, treated and a c section was offered. I believe that this test should be compulsory and offered at the booking appointment and during the third trimester.
According to the NHS, blisters from genital herpes can take months or years to appear.
Kira has started a GoFundMe appeal to raise money for the team at The Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital where Leo was cared for.
He was the most precious little boy, and filled my heart full of love
In a Facebook post she said: Leo was a true angel, he made an impact on all of our lives in such a short time. He was the most precious little boy, and filled my heart full of love. I was so excited to be his mummy. Everything made sense when I fell pregnant. He was my reason of life, someone else to make proud, and that I will.
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.
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What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
How Common Herpes Really Is
Enough people have herpes to make it a totally commonplace infection, even though we may not treat it as one.
Nearly 48 percent of people aged 14 to 49 in the United States were estimated to have HSV-1 between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent data from the CDC. This high prevalence makes sense because many people actually get the virus from nonsexual contact as children, the CDC explains. This can happen when a parent greets a child with a kiss on the mouth or while a kid is playing with other little ones, since children arent exactly known for their respect of personal space. Remember: HSV-1 often presents as cold sores, but its possible that some people with HSV-1 actually have genital herpes.
So, about genital herpes. You may have heard that one in six people has this infection. Thats a little bit of an outdated figure, Christine Johnston, M.D., an associate professor and herpes researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF. That number is related to national survey data released by the CDC in 2010 and based on the years 2005 through 2008. This nationally representative research, published in the CDCs 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey , tested peoples blood samples for antibodies of HSV-1 and HSV-2, estimating that 16.2 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 had HSV-2 between the years 2005 and 2008. Thats around one in six.
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What If I Contract Genital Herpes During Late Pregnancy
If you experience genital herpes symptoms, or believe you have been exposed to genital HSV, tell your obstetrician or midwife at once. However, be aware that herpes can lie dormant for several years. What appears to be a new herpes infection is usually an old one that is causing herpes symptoms for the first time. Talk with your provider about the best way to protect your baby. If a pregnant women gets a new genital HSV infection during the last six weeks of pregnancy, a caesarean delivery is recommended, even if no outbreak is present, as there is a greater than 50% risk of neonatal HSV.
How can I protect the baby after birth?A baby can get neonatal herpes in the first eight weeks after birth. Such infections are almost always caused by a kiss from an adult who has a cold sore. To protect your baby, dont kiss him or her when you have a cold sore, and ask others not to. If you have a cold sore, wash your hands before touching the baby.
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.
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What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
Why Have False Positive Tests Been Used As An Argument Against Routine Testing For Genital Herpes But Not For Other Stds Which Can Also Have False Positives
False positive test results are test results that say a person has a disease or condition when they do not actually have it. False positive results can occur with many diagnostic tests, including STD tests. The chances of false positive results increase as the likelihood of the infection decreases in the person being tested. False positive HSV-2 results can happen, especially in people who are at low risk for a herpes infection. Also, we do not know if people who test positive for herpes will change their sexual behavior as a result of a positive test. This tells us that the harm of a possible false positive test may be a greater concern than the benefits of an actual diagnosis. Unlike curable STDs, such as chlamydia, herpes infections are life-long, so it is especially important to avoid a false positive test.
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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
What To Think About
- Normal test results do not mean you do not have a herpes infection.
- Herpes is often diagnosed by symptoms and by knowing whether the person has had contact with an infected person. Sometimes a test is not needed. A person who has genital herpes needs to learn how to avoid spreading the disease, because the disease is more likely to be spread when he or she has sores. If you have recurrent outbreaks, especially during times of stress or illness, you can also spread the disease.
- You may want to know whether a herpes infection is due to HSV-1 or HSV-2 so you can take steps to prevent or treat outbreaks.
- A genital herpes infection can be spread from a mother to her baby during vaginal delivery. In a newborn, herpes can cause organ failure, brain infection, and death. If active herpes is present near the time of delivery, a caesarean delivery may be done to prevent infecting the baby.
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Managing Genital Herpes During Pregnancy
If youre pregnant and you have genital herpes, you may be concerned about the risk of spreading the infection to your baby. Be reassured that the risk is extremely smallespecially if you have had herpes for some time. The following steps can help make the risk even smaller:
Remember, the odds are strongly in favor of your having a healthy baby.
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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.
For Partners Of Pregnant Women
If your partner is pregnant, and she does not have genital HSV, you can help ensure that the baby remains safe from the infection. Find out whether you have a genital HSV . Remember, approximately 20% of sexually active adults have genital HSV, and most do not have herpes symptoms. If you find that you have the herpes virus, follow these guidelines to protect your partner during the pregnancy:
- Use condoms from start to finish every time you have sexual contact, even if you have no herpes symptoms. HSV can be spread even when no symptoms are present.
- If you have genital herpes outbreaks, abstain from sex until the outbreak has completely healed.
- Talk with your health care provider about taking antiviral medication to suppress herpes outbreaks and to reduce the risk of herpes transmission between outbreaks.
- Consider abstaining from intercourse during the last trimester. Explore alternatives such as touching, kissing, fantasising, and massage.
- If you have cold sores , avoid performing oral sex on your partner when a cold sore is present.
- Your partner needs to tell her doctor if you have genital herpes so that all the issues can be discussed.
The best way to protect the baby from neonatal herpes is to prevent contracting genital HSV during late pregnancy, especially during the last six weeks.
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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