There has been much debate on whether or not early pregnancy can trigger a herpes outbreak; it is an issue that needs to be discussed more fully in order to understand the potential risks of herpes for expecting mothers. Herpes is a virus that is highly contagious and can present itself in a variety of forms, both physical and mental. It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans are infected with the virus, and it is known to linger in the body for a lifetime. For pregnant women, the virus can cause a variety of consequences, including an increased risk of miscarriage, premature labor, and birth defects. For this reason, it is important to understand the potential risks that early pregnancy can pose to a woman and her unborn child. In this blog post, we will explore the potential links between early pregnancy and herpes outbreaks, as well as the steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of infection and protect the health of both the mother and her baby.
What causes herpes to flare up?
Approximately 22% of pregnant women have genital herpes. Herpes is generally a manageable condition in adults, but it can be fatal for newborns. Fortunately, there is very little chance that you will pass it on to your unborn child, especially if you got it before becoming pregnant. Your doctor will take action if you have it to stop you from transmitting it to your unborn child while giving birth.
Usually your first herpes outbreak is the worst. Because your body produces antibodies to the virus, outbreaks typically get milder over time. Theres no evidence that pregnancy causes herpes outbreaks, but approximately 75% of pregnant women with herpes will have an outbreak at some point during their pregnancy
Herpes can lie dormant for many years. Sometimes what seems to be a new herpes case is actually a dormant case that is just now exhibiting symptoms. Ask your doctor about getting tested if you’re not sure if you have herpes.
Herpes spreads to a group of nerves at the base of your spine after your initial infection has subsided. It will be latent during this time, and you won’t experience any symptoms. When the virus moves from your nerves to the surface of your skin, it can cause recurrent outbreaks. Recurrent outbreaks may be triggered by:
The difference between genital herpes and oral herpes
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) are two different viruses that can cause genital herpes. Oral herpes is usually caused by HSV-1. About 50% to 80% of adults have HSV-1. By age 50, about 90% of adults have been exposed to it HSV-1 is responsible for some cases of genital herpes because oral herpes can spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.
Newborns may develop neonatal herpes from either type of herpes virus. It is most frequently passed from mothers to babies during childbirth. However, newborns can also contract neonatal herpes by kissing someone who has a cold sore. Rarely, if someone touches a cold sore or genital sore and then touches a baby, they could contract herpes through touch.
Neonatal herpes is a serious infection. It can cause:
Thankfully, neonatal herpes is also extremely uncommon, occurring in less than 0 people. 1% of newborns born in the US each year. Most women with herpes give birth to healthy babies. The risk increases if you get herpes late in pregnancy because you won’t have time to develop antibodies that you can pass on to your unborn child. During delivery, there is also a higher likelihood that a fresh infection will be present and active.
What are the risks of genital herpes in pregnancy?
Give your midwife or GP a call right away if you believe you have genital herpes and are pregnant (NHS Choices, 2017; RCOG, 2014).
While genital herpes won’t increase your risk of miscarriage, it can still spread to unborn children while you’re pregnant. It can cause a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
The risks of developing a new infection (primary infection) are greatest if they occur during the third trimester or within six weeks of giving birth (RCOG, 2014). Neonatal herpes is uncommon in the UK.
You will be referred to a genitourinary medicine doctor for treatment if you have genital herpes while pregnant (RCOG, 2014).
What can you take for a herpes outbreak while pregnant?
What happens if you get pregnant during a herpes outbreak?
Be reassured that the risk is extremely small. 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.
Can a herpes outbreak make you miscarry?