What is genital herpes during pregnancy?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that’s caused by two types of viruses: the herpes simplex viruses.
What are the signs of genital herpes?
Most people with genital herpes actually have no signs or symptoms. The stuff you might expect -- itchy sores (down there), fever, fatigue and aches and pains -- only happens during active outbreaks, and some people who are infected never have an active outbreak (they can still pass on the virus, though).
Are there any tests for genital herpes?
Yep. If you’ve got active sores, your OB can have a sample of fluid from the sores analyzed. If you don’t, a blood test can also help diagnose genital herpes.
How common is genital herpes during pregnancy?
More common than you might think. According to the March of Dimes, one in four pregnant women have genital herpes.
How did I get genital herpes?
Genital herpes is spread by sexual contact, and because most people don’t have any symptoms of the disease, it’s possible to get herpes from someone who appeared -- and even thought they were -- herpes-free. Herpes can also be spread by oral-to-genital contact. Genital herpes is usually caused by the herpes simplex 2 virus, but herpes simplex 1 -- the virus that usually causes cold sores around the mouth and lips -- can also infect the genital area.
How will my genital herpes affect my baby?
Great news: It probably won’t. Even though herpes can be passed from mom to baby at birth, the risk of infection, if you contracted the virus before pregnancy and don’t have a flare-up during delivery, is relatively low -- only 3 percent -- and you can take steps to avoid infecting your baby.
If your baby does contract herpes, he might get skin or mouth sores and eye infections. The real (and scary!) risk is that herpes might spread to the brain and internal organs and cause death. Babies who survive serious herpes infections may develop mental retardation, seizures, cerebral palsy or hearing loss (see next page for treatments, prevention and resources).