How common is genital herpes?
According to the American Collge of Gynecologists, genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, occurring in one in five women in the United States.
What happens when you have herpes during pregnancy?
The biggest risk of contracting or having genital herpes infection during pregnancy is the ability to transmit the virus to your baby as it develops and also in the newborn stage. This happens more often than you might think because approximately 80 percent of infants who contract the virus are born to mothers who don't even know they have it.
If you have herpes for the first time, you are more likely to spread it to your fetus than if you are experiencing a recurrent infection. For this reason, it's imperative that preconception testing and first pregnancy blood tests include testing for herpes.
Doctors usually administer antiviral agents to treat HSV infections, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). If the infection is severe, medication may be delivered via intravenous therapy.
Delivery with herpes
If you have active lesions, you may be advised to have a cesarean section to help prevent perinatal HSV transmission to your newborn. However, if you have active lesions in other nongenital regions of the body, a cesarean if not always recommended.
If you have recurrent genital herpes, it is less likely that herpes will be transmitted to your baby during delivery. The biggest risk to the baby occurs if you get infected for the first time shortly before birth.