What If I Have A Herpes Outbreak While Pregnant
If you have a herpes outbreak while pregnant, treatment with acyclovir or valacyclovir is recommended. These drugs are generally considered to be safe during pregnancy. Oral medication is used for treatment unless the outbreak is severe.
If you have an outbreak or prodromal symptoms at the time of delivery, a C-section is recommended over vaginal delivery.
More Support And Information
The Family Planning Association provides straightforward information and support on sexual health, sex and relationships to everyone in the UK.
Public Health England National Sexual Health Helpline 0300 123 7123
NHS Choices provides information on sexual health including contraception, STIs and sexual health services in your area.
Terrence Higgins Trust provides HIV and sexual health services in the UK, running services out of local centres across Great Britain. Also provides information about HIV and pregnancy.
HIV i-base provides information about HIV including pregnancy and womens health
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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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.
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.
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Where Can I Go For A Sexual Health Check
The best places to go are a genito-urinary medicine clinic, sexual health clinic, your GP or a young peoples clinic.
All information given will be kept confidential, and the tests are only done with your permission.
You can find details of local GUM clinics by contacting the Sexual Health Line on 0300 123 7123 or the Family Planning Associations website
Remember that your reproductive partner should have a sexual health check-up too.
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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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.
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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What Are The Symptoms Of Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes is a serious viral infection that can, sadly, be fatal . There are three subgroups of neonatal herpes depending on the site of infection:
- skin, eye and/or mouth
- affecting central nervous system
- infection thats spread and involves multiple organs.
If neonatal herpes is just on the skin, eye and/or mouth, it has the best chance of being cured. If neonatal herpes has spread to multiple organs, thats when it can be much more serious .
Herpes Outbreaks In Pregnancy
Herpes while pregnant takes some management. If you have your first outbreak of herpes in pregnancy, it is possible to transmit herpes to your baby. This means that your baby may be born prematurely or even die. However, if you have had outbreaks before and you are simply having a recurrence, this is generally not a risk for your baby unless you have an active genital lesion at the time of delivery.
During an active herpes episode, whether the first episode or a repeat one, you should follow a few simple steps to speed healing and avoid spreading the infection to other places on the body or to other people.
- Don’t touch the sores.
- Keep them clean and dry.
- Do not have sexual contact with anyone until you are completely healed.
- Wash your hands frequently.
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Ask Your Doctor About Antiviral Medications
There is no cure for herpes, but medicines can modify the pattern of the disease process. Taking an antiviral herpes medicine daily might make it less worrisome and stressful to get pregnant with genital herpes. Daily treatment can:
- Reduce the chance of passing the virus to your partner or the other way around
- Suppress the virus and decrease viral shedding and transmission
Acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir are the choices of medicines used for herpes suppressive therapy, according to the CDC guidelines. Ask your doctor about taking suppressive therapy while you are trying to conceive.
Is Vaginal Birth Safe For Women With Genital Herpes
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 vaginal delivery.
Because of this, and the potential of serious consequences of infection in babieswhich, in rare cases, includes deathwomen 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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How Will My Doctor Know If I Have Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. In certain situations, a blood test may be used to look for herpes antibodies. Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for herpes or other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or how long you have been infected.
Ways To Avoid Getting Herpes While Pregnant
Women who dont have genital herpes should be careful about sex during the third trimester. Unless you know for sure that your partner is herpes free, avoid sex altogether during the third trimester. If your partner gets cold sores , they should not perform oral sex on you during this time.
Some doctors think all women should be tested for herpes when they get pregnant, especially if their sex partners have herpes. Ask your doctor if you or your partner should be tested.
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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.
What If I Get Herpes During Pregnancy
If you have your first episode of genital herpes during pregnancy, you should tell your doctor. Your doctor may want to treat you with antiviral medicine. The risk of your baby getting herpes is much higher if you have your first episode of genital herpes near the time of delivery.
It is important to avoid getting herpes during pregnancy. If your partner has a history of herpes and you do not have it, be sure to use condoms during sexual intercourse at all times during pregnancy. Your partner could pass the infection to you even if there are no painful sores. If there are painful sores, you must not have sex until the sores heal.
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy: Understanding The Risks
Genital herpes is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 people between the ages of 14 and 49 have it. Approximately 22% of pregnant women in the U.S. have genital herpes. Two percent contract it during pregnancy thats 1 in 50 pregnant women.
Two viral strains can cause genital herpes. HSV-2 is the most common and typically spreads through sexual contact. HSV-1, which is best known for causing cold sores, can also produce genital lesions . More than half of adults in America get HSV-1 at some point in their lives.
Herpes is generally manageable in adults. However, it can cause serious health problems in newborns. During delivery, your baby may be exposed to the virus, even if you are not having an outbreak.
Herpes infection occurs in less than 1% of births, but it can cause severe illness in newborns, such as:
- Serious infections, such as viral meningitis
- Recurrent sores on the skin, eyes, genitals, or mouth
- organ damage, including to the liver, lungs, and heart
Tell your doctor if you or your partner have herpes or if you may have been exposed. By knowing, we can take extra precautions to reduce your babys risk of infection during delivery and in their first few weeks at home. If youre not certain but think you may have had herpes in the past, we can do a blood test to determine whether you have had the infection.
What Is A Genital Herpes Infection
Genital herpes infections are sexually transmitted diseases. Symptoms can include painful sores in the genital area, itching, painful urination, vaginal discharge and tender lumps in the groin. With the first episode, many people have a fever and general aches, like the flu. Most people with herpes infection will have outbreaks of sores and symptoms from time to time. Some women have herpes only on the cervix. In this case, there may be few or no symptoms with an outbreak.
About 25 percent of adults in the United States are infected with genital herpes infections. The virus is not curable. Babies born to mothers who have an active genital herpes infection at or near the time of delivery can become infected. This can be serious and sometimes fatal for newborns.
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Herpes Simplex Virus Infections
The herpes simplex virus causes a variety of infections, characterized by dormant periods with no symptoms and sporadic outbreaks of red, itchy, painful blisters. Generally, there are two types of herpes: genital herpes and oral herpes . However, herpes lesions from both types can be found anywhere on the body, including on the skin, mouth, eyes, and genitals.
Type 1 infections are most often found on the mouth, while type 2 infections tend to occur in the genital area.
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If your sex partner has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.
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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.
Getting Pregnant With Genital Herpes
If you have a history of genital herpes and you want to conceive naturally, the challenge is to time unprotected intercourse at your most fertile time, yet not infect your partner. The same applies if your partner is the one infected, and you are not.
As with everything in life, there is no guarantee the non-infected partner will not acquire the virus, but taking the best approach together will certainly limit the risk while you are trying to get pregnant.
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Infection In The Last Trimester Of Pregnancy
If women become infected with genital herpes in the last three months of pregnancy, the virus is passed on to their baby in about 30 to 50 out of 100 births. Because of this risk, women who get genital herpes in the last trimester of pregnancy usually have a Cesarean section in order to protect the child. Its also a good idea to talk with a doctor who is specialized in the treatment of infectious diseases.
In order to prevent infection in the last three months of pregnancy, its best to avoid sex with people who have genital herpes. This is also true when it comes to oral sex with people who have cold sores.
Using The Opk To Time Intercourse
The ovulation predictor test helps you time intercourse as follows:
- The day you see your strongly positive result is the day of the biggest increase in your LH secretion from your pituitary gland.
- In the average 28-day menstrual cycle, you will see this result around day 12 or 13.
- This LH surge is what triggers release of an egg from your ovary .
- 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 womans reproductive track for three to five days. The egg is only viable for fertilization from 12 to 24 hours.
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