How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
Genital Herpes Treatment During Pregnancy
Women taking antiviral drugs for herpes — either daily suppressive therapy or occasional therapy for outbreaks — should consult their doctor about whether to take the drugs during pregnancy. The answer is not set in stone: You and your doctor have to discuss the risks and benefits to decide what’s right for you.
For pregnant women with a history of genital herpes, the doctor might recommend daily doses of an antiviral medication during the month before their due date.
Herpes infection in a newborn is also serious. Do not allow anyone with a cold sore on the mouth to kiss the baby. If you have a cold sore, don’t kiss the baby, and wash hands with soap and water before touching the baby.
Do They Automatically Test For Herpes
- Yes, they test. — Votes: 21
- No, only if you ask — Votes: 9
During pregnancy that is.. Or do you have to ask for it? This is stemming from a different discussion.
i was never tested for it, i don’t have it. But they never tested me i don’t remember them testing me at least.
I think you can only test positive if you’re having an outbreak.not positive.
It all depends on where you go, to be honest. Most hospitals will test for herpes, HIV/AIDs, and etcetera, when they do the first trimester blood tests. These tests are done to help prevent the diseases from spreading onto an unborn child.
Quoting Riarios Lynn:” It all depends on where you go, to be honest. Most hospitals will test for herpes, HIV/AIDs, and etcetera, … … they do the first trimester blood tests. These tests are done to help prevent the diseases from spreading onto an unborn child.”
Would it be weird if I called my old OB?
My doc said when she did the requred HIV test that they test for anything else you could have as well because they want to make sure your baby is going to be as healthy as possible. But that might just be my doctor.
All hospitals test for HIV/AIDS.
You HAVE to have an outbreak for herpes testing.
My friend tested positive for herpes and she didn’t have an outbreak… they told her it was dormant at the time.
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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.
I Have Genital Herpes How Can I Prevent My Baby From Getting The Virus
Firstly, make sure you tell your health care provider that you have genital herpes. Antiviral medication may be offered in late pregnancy to prevent or reduce recurrence. As labour approaches, inspect your genital area for any signs of a breakout and your health care provider will do the same. If you have an active outbreak, delivering by C-section instead of vaginally significantly reduces the high risk of transmitting the virus to your baby. Depending on the situation, you and/or your baby may be treated with anti-viral medications. If you have a vaginal delivery, some measures can prevent transmission, such as leaving membranes intact and avoiding instrument use and fetal scalp monitoring. After delivery, check the baby often for signs of infection, such as blisters, fever, or lack of appetite.
If your partner has HSV and you dont, use condoms every time you have sexual contact, even if your partner has no symptoms. Dont have sexual contact if your partner has an active outbreak and consider abstaining in the third trimester even if your partner doesnt have an active outbreak. It is recommended that you be tested early in pregnancy for HSV, and then again at 32-34 weeks gestation.
The greatest risk of infection to your baby happens if you acquire a new genital herpes infection late in pregnancy. In this case, delivering by C-section is the safest option.
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Herpes Testing During Pregnancy
Of course, knowing whether or not your birth plan should be reassessed depends on knowing you indeed have genital herpes.
Doctors can certainly test for viral DNA during pregnancy. Still, there is some question about how useful these tests are, particularly when they’re done more than a few days before birth.
As well, an increasing percentage of genital herpes cases are due to HSV-1, and testing for it would not distinguish between the site of an outbreak .
ACOG, the American Academy of Family Physicians , and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend routine serologic screening for genital herpes simplex virus infection in those who are pregnant.
Natural History Of Genital Herpes
But how can genital herpes during pregnancy go undetected? Genital herpes is caused by two types of HSV, type 1 and type 2 . HSV-1 presents with cold sores around the mouth and lips, while HSV-2 causes genital sores and is the most common cause of what we call genital herpes. The time between transmission of the virus to a new host and the onset of symptoms is between 2 to 14 days. However, most infections with HSV-2 occur with some mild tingling or itching in the genital area or without the presentation of any symptoms at all, resulting in many being unaware that they have contracted the illness. To make matters worse, the disease lives on indefinitely in the body, regardless of whether a person received any treatment for it. This means that the distinctive symptoms of red sores may arise at any time when your immune system is weakened, be through illness or stress. Be aware though that while this may sound frightening, many already live with virus in their body, such as people who have suffered from chicken pox.
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Heres Why Doctors Dont Usually Test For Herpes
Its basically a SELF mantra at this point: Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections is hella important. Is it the most delightful way to spend your time? No. Is it a vital part of looking after your health, sexual and otherwise? Absolutely.
When you go in for routine STI testing, you might realize that your doctor doesnt test you for herpes. Whats that about? As it turns out, testing for herpes isnt as straightforward as testing for something like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Here, doctors explain why herpes isnt usually included on STI panels.
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What Is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is a virus that is spread through intimate, skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
The genital herpes virus can be active on the surface of the skin with symptoms and a visible outbreak or without any visible signs or symptoms.
There are many symptoms that can be associated with the virus such as itching, redness, bumps, tingling, and cuts in the genital area/boxer short area.
It is possible that what you think are yeast infections, urinary tract infections, or vaginal discharge actually may be cases of genital herpes.
Remember, there is no cure for herpes. However treatment options are available to treat this disease.
Who Has Genital Herpes?
One in five Americans over the age of 14 has the genital herpes virus, that is approximately 45 million people.
And when you consider that among American adults who have the genital herpes virus, 9 out of 10 do not even know they have it.
Anyone who is sexually activeeven with just one personcan get GH there are up to one million new cases each year.
You may want to find out if your symptoms are actually what you think they are.
Why Is It Important to the Pregnant Woman?
If you have the genital herpes virus, you are at a risk of spreading herpes to your newborn at the time of delivery.
What Are the Risks to the Baby?
If the baby gets the herpes virus, also called neonatal herpes, the baby usually gets sick during the first one to two weeks of life.
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Procedures And Hsv Infection During Pregnancy
Transcervical procedures, such as cerclage placement, should be avoided while an active lesion is present to prevent transmission. Transabdominal procedures, such as amniocentesis and percutaneous umbilical cord sampling, are not contraindicated in women with a history of recurrent HSV infections. These abdominal procedures may even be performed in the presence of an active lesion if necessary. Invasive monitoring, such as fetal scalp electrodes, is a risk factor for transmission and increases the neonatal infection risk by 6-fold. However, if there are indications for the invasive monitoring, it is reasonable to use if no active lesion is present.
How Can I Protect My Newborn From Getting Herpes
If your partner has herpes and you dont, do not have sex and oral sex the last few weeks of pregnancy. Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission but arent 100% effective. Theres no reason to risk a new infection close to delivery.
In the unlikely event your baby has been exposed, well treat the baby with antiviral medications. HSV cant be passed through breast milk, so unless you have sores or lesion on your breasts, breastfeeding is safe.
With visitors, do not allow anyone who has a cold sore or has had one recently to hold your baby. Same goes for people who have a cold or virus. Insist that anyone who wants to hold or touch your newborn wash their hands first this should be the norm anyway due to COVID-19.
Genital herpes is a common condition, and we are well-equipped to help reduce your baby’s risks. If you or your partner has a history of herpes, talk with your Ob/Gyn. We are eager to help you have a safe pregnancy and delivery.
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Staying Safe While Avoiding Panic And Stigma
It can be tempting to freak out a little bit when you realize that herpes is both super-common and something you arent routinely getting tested for. So how do you process that information?
The first step is practicing the same safe sex that you know helps protect you from other STIs. Your best bet here is a barrier method like internal and external condoms for any penetration and physical shields such as dental dams for any oral play. Even though this wont fully protect you from herpes , it will reduce how much of your skin touches your partners.
This is why screening for herpes infection in the absence of any symptoms wouldnt really do much to cut back on casesthe advice would be the same: Practice safe sex with barrier methods. I agree right now with the recommendations not to screen people, but I think if we had a better diagnostic strategy, I would be much more in favor of routine screenings, Dr. Johnston says. It is important for people to know their status so they can protect themselves and their partners.
If you think you have herpes, see a doctor such as your ob/gyn or dermatologist , or go to your local health clinic. A medical expert can evaluate your symptoms, take samples for testing, and eventually offer treatment options if you need them.
You will likely be started on antiviral medications to help you heal faster and make you less contagious, Dr. Bard says.
Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.11 In addition, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.11
There is currently no commercially available vaccine that is protective against genital herpes infection. Candidate vaccines are in clinical trials.
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How Can Herpes Simplex Spread To An Infant
- Herpes simplex is most often spread to an infant during birth if the mother has HSV in the birth canal during delivery.
- HSV can also be spread to the baby if he or she is kissed by someone with an active cold sore.
- In rare instances, HSV may be spread by touch, if someone touches an active cold sore and then immediately touches the baby.
Do They Test For Herpes During Pregnancy
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Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Many people who have genital herpes are unaware that they have the virus because they have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or mistake the symptoms for other conditions such as jock itch, yeast infections, razor burn or allergic reactions to detergents. The infection can be diagnosed by taking a swab from the sores or through blood tests. Those with symptoms may experience a tingling sensation or itching in the genital area within a few days of having sex with an infected person. A cluster of blisters may appear and burst, leaving painful sores often lasting two to three weeks. A fever, headache and muscular pain may occur during the first attack.
After the sores from the first attack heal, the virus goes into a dormant stage, but recurrent outbreaks can occur. Some people have only one or two recurrences in a lifetime, while others have them frequently. Recurrences are typically shorter in duration and less severe than the first episode. Stress, menstrual cycle, illness, fever, surgery, exposure to sun, having sex, pregnancy, and the use of some medications can play a role in the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Herpes can continue to be transmitted to others, even between recurrences when the infected person has no symptoms.
Women’s symptoms can include:
- sores inside or near the vagina, the cervix, on the external genitals, near the anus, or on the thighs or buttocks
- tender lumps in the groin
Men’s symptoms can include:
Wouldnt Testing Everyone Stop The Spread Of Genital Herpes
We dont know. There is no evidence that diagnosing genital herpes with a blood test in someone without symptoms would change their sexual behavior and stop the virus from spreading. In addition, without knowing the benefits of testing, the risk of shaming and stigmatizing people outweighs the potential benefits. For these reasons, testing everyone for herpes is not recommended at this time.
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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.
Current Strategies To Prevent Vertical Hsv Transmission With Antiviral Therapy
Current strategies to prevent vertical transmission with antiviral therapy have focused on 3 approaches, as follows:
Antiviral suppression for gravidas with first-episode infections during pregnancy
Routine antiviral suppression for gravidas with a history of genital HSV
Identification of seronegative gravidas at risk for primary and nonprimary first-episode genital HSV infections
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How Should We Treat Mothers Who Are Herpes Positive
Antiviral therapy in cases of mothers with a prior infection in the absence of outbreaks is not recommended as there is little evidence to suggest that it has an impact on the risk of transmission. Thus it is not recommended to test for the presence of HSV-2 in asymptomatic pregnant women as the approach to the mother’s care would not differ than if she was not a carrier of HSV-2. Evidently, the costs involved far exceed the potential benefits in uncovering potential carriers. Currently, research is underway into the development of a vaccine for herpes. Other preventative measures should also be considered to stem the spread of the virus among the populace, as it results in an increasing burden on healthcare costs.