Im Pregnant What Do I Need To Know
To get the best care, tell your doctor you have genital herpes, because it could make you more likely to have a miscarriage or give birth too soon.
Its possible to pass along the virus to your baby. For infants, it can be life-threatening. Your doctor can talk to you about how to lower the chances that this will happen.
If you have an outbreak while youre pregnant, your doctor can give you medicine to treat your symptoms and stop them sooner.
Your doctor may give you a drug to prevent an outbreak as your due date gets closer. This is because your baby could get herpes by passing through your birth canal if youre having an outbreak when you go into labor. If thats a possibility, your doctor will most likely want to do a C-section, which is surgery to deliver the baby.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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.
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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.
What Is Herpes Simplex
Many people live with asymptomatic HSV, which means they have the virus without ever having an outbreak or active episode of herpes.
Others might experience occasional episodes of small, fluid-filled blisters or sores. These blisters most commonly appear on the genitals or mouth and lips, but they can also show up on hands or fingers and other parts of your body.
According to estimates from the World Health Organization :
- about 67 percent of the worlds population under age 50 had oral or genital HSV-1 in 2016
- about 13 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 49 had HSV-2 in 2016
Other research notes that over 90 percent of adults have HSV-1 antibodies by the time they reach their 50s.
Experts have yet to find a cure for herpes, but antivirals and home remedies can help ease the severity of symptoms. Antiviral medication may also lead to fewer herpes episodes.
Read on to learn more about the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2, plus get the details on key signs, diagnosis, and treatment.
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When To See A Doctor
Because a person might not have symptoms even if they have herpes, it can be difficult to know when to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Planned Parenthood recommends that a person see a healthcare professional as soon as they notice sores on or around their genitals. Other STIs, such as syphilis, can have similar symptoms but require different treatment. The American Sexual Health Association also recommends seeing a doctor to get a culture of any lesion or cold sore a person notices.
People may wish to take an at-home STI test before seeing a doctor. However, at-home tests should not replace professional diagnosis and treatment.
- applying aloe vera gel to sores
- applying petroleum jelly to the affected areas
- wearing loose clothing to avoid irritation
- refraining from sexual activity, even with protection, until symptoms have gone
- applying a cream or lotion to the urethra before urinating, such as one that contains lidocaine
Some people find that using ice packs help. However, never apply ice directly to the skin wrap it in a cloth first.
Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Primary Genital Herpes Outbreak
For people with symptoms, the first outbreak usually occurs in or around the genital area 2 days to 2 weeks after sexual exposure to the virus. The first signs are a tingling sensation in the affected areas and groups of small red bumps that develop into blisters. Over the next 2 to 3 weeks, more blisters can appear and rupture into painful open sores. The lesions eventually dry out, develop a crust, and heal rapidly without leaving a scar. Blisters in moist areas heal more slowly than those in dry areas. The sores may sometimes itch, but itching decreases as they heal.
About 40% of men and 70% of women develop other symptoms during initial outbreaks of genital herpes, such as flu-like discomfort, headache, muscle aches, and fever. Swollen glands may occur in the groin area or neck. Some women may have difficulty urinating and may, occasionally, require a urinary catheter. Women may also experience vaginal discharge.
Recurrent Genital Herpes Outbreak
In general, recurrences are much milder than the initial outbreak. The virus sheds for a much shorter period of time compared to an initial outbreak of 3 weeks. Women may have only minor itching, and the symptoms may be even milder in men.
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If You Were Infected During Oral Sex
If you are someone who acquired genital herpes during oral sex, it’s a good idea to talk to your partner about what happened. Think about educating them, rather than engaging in blame.
It’s unlikely that they were trying to intentionally transmit an STI. Unfortunately, a lot of people with cold sores are unaware of the risk of transmitting herpes during oral sex.
Fortunately, this risk can be greatly reduced by using appropriate barriers or suppressive treatments.
How Painful Is Herpes Simplex
Some people experience very mild genital herpes symptoms or no symptoms at all. Frequently, people infected with the virus don’t even know they have it. However, when it causes symptoms, it can be described as extremely painful. This is especially true for the first outbreak, which is often the worst. Outbreaks are described as aches or pains in or around the genital area or burning, pain, or difficulty urinating. Some people experience discharge from the or .
Oral herpes lesions usually cause tingling and burning just prior to the breakout of the blisters. The blisters themselves can also be painful.
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Could My Partner Have Picked Up Genital Herpes From A Toilet Seat Or Hot Tub
It’s very rare, if not impossible, to get genital herpes any other way than by sexual contact. The CDCs website puts it this way: You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels.
Keep in mind that many people have genital herpes for years or even decades without knowing it. When they are diagnosed, their monogamous partners often assume they were unfaithful, which may not be true. It could be something they got a long time ago. A blood test wont tell you when you got herpes or who you got it from.
The New England Journal of Medicine: “Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 in the United States, 1976 to 1994.”
American Sexual Health Association, National Herpes Resource Center.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases : “Genital Herpes.”
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: “Herpes genital .”
CDC: “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2002.”
WebMD Medical News: “Herpes Virus Linked to Cervical Cancer.”
Terri Warren, RN, Westover Heights Clinic.
Warren, T., and Warren, R., The Updated Herpes Handbook, Portland Press, 2002.
CDC: Genital Herpes — CDC Fact Sheet.
Final Notes On Diet For Herpes Sufferers
Diet is one of the factors that people infected with the herpes simplex virus must control to prevent herpes outbreaks.
I hope that the information provided in this article will help you in the selection of foods and beverages to make up your diet. I can only ask you to share it with your friends on social networks.
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How Far Away Is A Cure For Herpes
Theres currently no cure for herpes, but that might change in the future.
According to 2020 research published in Nature, scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center removed 90 percent of the HSV-1 virus from cells in mice using gene editing.
However, it takes time to transition potential treatments from animals to humans. In a 2020 news article, one of the researchers that authored the Nature paper estimated that it would be at least 3 years before human trials.
Scientists are also researching the possibility of creating a vaccine to prevent herpes. A 2022 study outlined a new approach to developing an mRNA vaccine for herpes. The vaccine mentioned in the study worked well in mice and guinea pigs.
The researchers say that theyre aiming to conduct human trials before the end of 2022, and the vaccine could be available within the next 10 years.
Foods To Avoid And Eat With Herpes
Once infected with herpes, you have the virus for the rest of your life. There are two types of the virus one that triggers cold sores and the other that cause blisters on your genitals. While being infected can cause concern, there are ways to cope with breakouts and even help prevent them. Your doctor may prescribe medicine designed to manage the virus, but your diet also plays an important role in preventing herpes outbreaks.
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How Do Dermatologists Treat Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. The good news is that sores often clear without treatment. Many people choose to treat herpes simplex because treatment can relieve symptoms and shorten an outbreak.
Most people are treated with an antiviral medicine. An antiviral cream or ointment can relieve the burning, itching, or tingling. An antiviral medicine that is oral or intravenous can shorten an outbreak of herpes.
Prescription antiviral medicines approved for the treatment of both types of herpes simplex include:
Taken daily, these medicines can lessen the severity and frequency of outbreaks. They also can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus.
How To Tell Your Partner
It may be difficult to talk about these issues before sex. Still, you’re far more likely to be able to build a lasting relationship based on the truth.
People are willing to take risks for love. They’re also less likely to blame a partner for giving them herpes if they went into the relationship with open eyes. Here’s a sample script that may help:
You: “I really like you, but before we go any further, I wanted to tell you that I may have a cold sore.”
You: “Well, because they’re contagious and caused by a herpes virus, I think it’s important to let someone who I’m interested in dating to know that I get cold sores before I kiss them or sleep with them.”
Partner: “Cold sores are herpes?”
Partner: “I had no idea. My ex used to get cold sores a lot. What does that mean for me?”
You: “Well, the herpes virus can be transmitted during kissing and also during oral sex. I always practice safe oral sex, but even that’s not perfect.”
Partner: “We never used condoms for oral sex. Does that mean I have herpes?”
You: “Not necessarily. The virus isn’t transmitted every time you have sex. But it might make you feel better to get tested and find out.”
Partner: “There’s a test for herpes?”
You: “Yeah. It’s a blood test. It can tell whether you have ever been infected even if you don’t have symptoms. What do you think about that?”
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Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests are very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then it may be less likely to find a positive result.
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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.
Chocolate Tea Coffee And Herpes Outbreaks
Caffeine, theophylline and theobromine are three substances that stimulate the central nervous system they form the methylxanthine family.
Coffee is one of the best sources of caffeine, chocolate is rich in theobromine and contains caffeine and tea is rich in theophylline, but also contains caffeine and theobromine.
Avoid coffee, tea and chocolate and you will be surprised by the results.
You should also keep in mind that chocolate and black tea are high in arginine and low in lysine: another reason not to include them in your diet.
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Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner about their risk. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.
A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.
Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
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How Herpes Is Treated
There is no cure for herpes.
- The health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicine to help speed up the healing process. It also shortens the time when the virus can spread from the herpes sores.
- Pain may be treated with medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin or by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area.
- If sores are in the mouth, avoid foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices.
- The infected area should be kept clean and dry.
- Wash hands often and avoid touching the sores to prevent spreading the virus.
- It is important to stay healthy by getting enough rest, having proper nutrition and exercise and managing stress well.