Should a woman with herpes get pregnant
If you've been diagnosed with herpes you might wonder if it can cause miscarriage or later pregnancy loss. While some research has linked herpes simplex virus to miscarriage, the biggest risk of active herpes during pregnancy is that the baby could become infected during birth. Herpes simplex virus, or HSV, is a virus that can cause sores and blisters in either the mouth or the genital area and occasionally other body parts. Doctors used to think that HSV-1 caused only cold sores oral herpes and HSV-2 genital herpes, but they now know that both virus types can cause both types of herpes. Herpes is very common. HSV cannot be cured, although it can be controlled and may become dormant.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Living With Herpes - Can I Have A Normal Pregnancy With Genital Herpes? w/Dr. Kelly
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Is Vaginal Birth Safe for Women With Genital Herpes?
In the US, one in four women is estimated to have genital herpes. Passing the virus onto your baby during childbirth can have potentially devastating consequences. Luckily, treatment reduces this risk, as do several other factors.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection STI. Either virus can cause cold sores on the mouth and lips. Although treatment can be effective at reducing the frequency and duration of outbreaks, there is no cure.
Thankfully, the frequency of outbreaks decreases over time. Genital herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact. It is usually transmitted via vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse, but may also be passed on through kissing and touching the genitals.
The primary concern is transmitting the virus to your baby during delivery. Infants who contract genital herpes during childbirth can develop lesions on their skin, eyes, and mouth. The virus can affect their central nervous system or multiple organs, such as the liver and lungs. Infection in newborns can be fatal. In a very small number of cases about two percent , a woman who acquires genital herpes during pregnancy can pass the virus along to the baby in utero.
This is very rare and can lead to pregnancy complications or fetal demise. You are at the greatest risk of transmitting the virus of if you experience an outbreak at the time of delivery or are infected for the first time in your third trimester.
If you were infected before you became pregnant, the risk of transmitting the virus is low. Your body has already developed antibodies to the virus and these antibodies are passed onto your baby via the placenta. Beginning at 36 weeks of pregnancy, providers typically recommend taking a daily antiviral medication. Even so, many providers do not treat outbreaks before 35 weeks to reduce fetal exposure to antiviral medication.
If you were infected before you became pregnant or were infected early in pregnancy, the chance of transmission during delivery is less than one percent. If you contract genital herpes toward the end of your pregnancy, you will need immediate treatment to reduce the viral load in your body and the duration of lesions. The greatest risk to your newborn is contact with lesions during childbirth.
C-section does not prevent all newborn infections, but it dramatically reduces the rate of transmission. For women who are not experiencing an outbreak, vaginal birth is the safest delivery method. Similarly, if the lesions are not in the genital region, such as on the butt or thighs, C-section is not recommended. The lesions can be covered with a special dressing and a vaginal birth can proceed. Stephanie is a proactive, open communicator who creates a supportive environment for her patients.
She joined One Medical to focus her attention on treating patients with a holistic and evidence-based approach. She believes that a close patient-provider relationship is vital in developing a personalized strategy to achieve health goals.
Stephanie is an avid traveler and reader and stays healthy by practicing yoga, running and cycling. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.
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What if my partner has herpes? If you are uninfected and your partner has genital herpes, here are some steps to take: Tell your provider that your partner has genital herpes.
Abstain from sexual contact during an active outbreak and use latex condoms and dental dams at all other times. Condoms do not eliminate the risk of contracting the virus, but they reduce it. Ask your partner to talk to his or her provider about taking daily antiviral medication throughout your pregnancy. This may reduce the likelihood that your partner passes the virus onto you.
During the third trimester, consider abstaining from all skin-to-skin genital contact. If your partner has ever had cold sores, consider avoiding oral sex. Tags pregnant. Stephanie Long.
Pregnant with Herpes? Know Your Risks
If a woman with genital herpes has virus present in the birth canal during delivery, herpes simplex virus HSV can be spread to an infant, causing neonatal herpes , a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Neonatal herpes can cause an overwhelming infection resulting in lasting damage to the central nervous system, mental retardation, or death. Medication, if given early, may help prevent or reduce lasting damage, but even with antiviral medication, this infection has serious consequences for most infected infants. While neonatal herpes is a serious condition, it is also very rare. Less than 0.
Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor. 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.
Herpes and Pregnancy
When I found out I was pregnant—three years after I found out I had herpes—I immediately asked my obstetrician what I could expect of my regular symptoms during the course of my pregnancy. She told me they likely wouldn't change much. It turned out she was wrong. I had chronic outbreaks, which consisted of nerve pain, itching, and tingling. These symptoms persisted for the majority of my pregnancy, but my care provider seemed surprised, and unsure what to do—a common problem for pregnant women in my position, I soon learned. It wasn't that she didn't know how to treat my genital herpes during my pregnancy—she prescribed me a higher dosage of antiviral medication, in accordance with guidelines—but she didn't really seem to have a sense of what could happen next. My pregnancy brought an increase in both frequency and severity of my herpes symptoms. Between the second and seventh month of my pregnancy, I had herpes symptoms more days than I didn't.
Herpes and fertility: Myths, realities, and stigma
The AAD's Coronavirus Resource Center will help you find information about how you can continue to care for your skin, hair, and nails. To help care for your skin during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, the AAD recommends these tips from board-certified dermatologists. You can get a rash from poison ivy any time of the year. While summer has ended, dermatologists urge you to continue using sunscreen.
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Herpes and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Transmission of herpes simplex virus HSV infection from mother to baby can occur when the mother has active genital herpes lesions at the time of a vaginal birth. Herpes infection in the newborn baby is a serious condition and is associated with a risk of neonatal death. Most poor outcomes for babies occur where the mother is unaware she has had a herpes infection. The first episode of infection can be associated with severe symptoms including painful genital ulcers, pain passing urine or inability to pass urine, fever and headache.
One step many experts recommend is that you become informed about herpes simplex virus HSV. This common virus is usually a mild infection in adults. But in infants, HSV can cause a rare, but serious, illness. But either type of HSV can infect either part of the body. Either type can infect a baby.
Herpes During Pregnancy—What It Means, What to Expect
There are two types of herpes simplex virus HSV , the viral infection that causes genital herpes:. Both are spread through skin-to-skin contact and are actually most often transmitted by someone who has no visible sores or blisters. Many people infected with the herpes virus never experience symptoms. However within two to 10 days after initially contracting the virus, a person might experience flu-like symptoms including:. The first bout with herpes can last from two to four weeks, during which time it can still be transmitted. Note that subsequent outbreaks may be less severe, as the immune system develops antibodies. You may experience tingling, burning or itching where the infection initially occurred a few hours before sores appear, but usually no fever or swelling. The outbreak will likely be less painful and last less time — three to seven days.
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. That said, this may not be necessary in all cases. Only a small percentage of neonatal herpes transmissions occur during the pregnancy itself.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection. This means that it can be passed along to another person by any type of sexual contact. This includes genital sex, oral sex, and anal sex. Pregnancy does not protect you from getting herpes.
NCBI Bookshelf. Herpes infections are only rarely passed on to babies during childbirth. Herpes infections can be life-threatening for newborn babies. Because of this, many women who have genital herpes are afraid of passing herpes viruses on to their child while giving birth.