Is Herpes Considered a High-Risk Pregnancy Condition?

Genital herpes is an infection spread via sexual activity. When you are pregnant and have an untreated herpes infection, you run the risk of passing the virus to your unborn child. This may lead to several significant complications.

Currently, there is no known treatment for genital herpes. However, you can use natural genital herpes treatments to lessen symptoms. With the treatment, you can stop outbreaks from happening again, and lower the risk of transmission. 

It can also be used to keep recurrences at bay. The risk of contaminating others is reduced significantly when herpes is properly treated.

You may, however, reduce your baby’s infection risk by taking measures and receiving quality medical care. If you have an outbreak of the herpes virus when you go into labor, you could need a cesarean birth.

What is Herpes?

Herpes simplex viruses may be divided into two primary groups or types:

HSV-1. Oral sores, also known as cold sores or fever blisters, are a common symptom of HSV-1, which is mostly spread orally. But if it is spread during oral intercourse, HSV-1 can also result in genital blisters.

HSV-2. HSV-2 is spread through sexual contact, and most frequently results in genital herpes or sores or blisters in the genital area. Although exposure to HSV-2 during oral intercourse can also result in oral infections, the danger during childbirth is from genital sores.

The term genital herpes refers to herpes blisters or ulcers. If a newborn touches genital herpes blisters or sores while being delivered vaginally, the baby might get the herpes virus.

Herpes can infect you without your being aware of it. There may be no symptoms at all, which means that the infection is sometimes asymptomatic. Up to two-thirds of persons with new herpes infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), are asymptomatic.

What are the Signs of Herpes During Pregnancy?

Genital herpes is typically accompanied by either no symptoms or extremely minor symptoms that frequently go unreported. The CDC estimates that almost 90% of herpes sufferers are unaware of their condition.

If symptoms do appear, they might be very different. As a result of your lack of virus-specific antibodies during the time of your initial genital herpes infection, they are often at their worst.

You can get red pimples on the vagina or vulva two to ten days after being exposed to the virus. These bumps will ultimately develop into blisters, which will break into painful sores.

During initial infection, you could have a small number or a big cluster, and they might linger for several weeks.

When they contract herpes for the very first time, some pregnant women become quite ill. They will require intravenous administration of the antiviral drug acyclovir.

Risks of Herpes During Pregnancy

When infected with genital herpes, the virus might be transferred to your unborn child. This could occur during labor and delivery. If this occurs, your infant may experience extremely significant health issues.

Neonatal herpes is most likely to affect newborns if the mother catches it late in pregnancy. Herpes infections in newborn infants are referred to as neonatal herpes. Babies are more susceptible to the negative effects of the virus the younger they are. 

Neonatal herpes is often treated with antiviral medications administered straight into the baby’s veins. This therapy could be required for several weeks. It will also be necessary to address any associated issues, such as seizures.

The likelihood of the virus being present in the vaginal canal during delivery is further enhanced. The reason is that fresh herpes infection is frequently active. Herpes often manifests in any of the following ways in newborns:

  • Most herpes-positive newborns get skin, eye, and mouth infections (SEM). A newborn with skin, eye, or mouth infections (SEM) may have sores at birth or develop them 1 to 6 weeks later. However, the sores usually appear between the ages of one and two weeks.
  • A disease of the central nervous system (CNS). About one-third of neonates with herpes have symptoms in the CNS. Although it can emerge at any moment during the first six weeks following birth, this often occurs at approximately two or more weeks of age.
  • Disseminated Disease. A condition known as disseminated herpes affects around 25% of infants who are herpes positive at birth. Often, the liver and lungs are also affected by this extremely dangerous condition.

How to Control Genital Herpes While Pregnant

You might be worried about the possibility of passing the virus to your unborn child if you have genital herpes and are pregnant. 

Reassure yourself that the danger is low, especially if you have had herpes for a while. The following actions can aid in further reducing the risk:

  • Speak to your midwife or obstetrician. Be sure they are aware that you have genital herpes.
  • Your doctor should check you for sores or outbreaks in the early stages of labor by shining a bright light on you. If you experience any itching, tingling, or discomfort, inform your healthcare professional.
  • Ask your doctor to refrain from checking the baby’s heart rate during delivery with a fetal scalp monitor scalp electrodes unless essential. The herpes virus might enter the baby’s scalp as a result of the microscopic punctures made by this tool. Typically, an external monitor can be used in its place.

How to Control Herpes During Pregnancy

The idea that pregnancy triggers flare-ups is unsupported by any research. Nevertheless, 75% of herpes-positive pregnant women may anticipate an outbreak. This has been proven by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

If you experience itching, burning, or tingling, this could be a sign that the virus is starting to become active. Especially if it’s where the sore may eventually form during pregnancy.

Your doctor may recommend an antiviral drug like acyclovir (Valtrex) if you’ve got a record of herpes, or if a blood test result is positive. This helps to lower your risk of contracting the virus or experiencing an outbreak close to the time of birth.  For more updates, visit:

Final Thoughts

The HSV virus causes an oral or genital infection known as herpes. Herpes is a lifelong virus that each individual carries. Herpes during the prenatal period increases the chance of infection transfer to the unborn child. Also, herpes during pregnancy might be quite risky for the baby.

To reduce the danger of spreading the virus, a pregnant person might take antiviral medications in the latter weeks of pregnancy. They could also think about having a C-section.

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