Genital herpes during pregnancy: What you need to know

The article is professionally consulted by Doctor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology - Vinmec Hai Phong International General Hospital.

Genital herpes is an infection of the genital tract caused by the Herpes Simplex virus (HSV). When the virus enters the body, it will cause many negative effects on the health of pregnant women, so experts recommend that you learn carefully about genital herpes to take measures to prevent and handle it. necessary.

1. What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This STD causes sores, blisters — painful blisters (fluid-filled bumps) that can burst and drain. About 16% of people between the ages of 14 and 49 have this STD.

2. Causes of genital herpes (genital herpes)

Two types of herpes simplex virus cause genital herpes: HSV-1 (which often causes cold sores) and HSV-2 (which often causes genital herpes).
Viruses enter the body through mucous membranes. Mucous membranes are thin layers of tissue that line openings in the body. They can be found in the nose, mouth, and genitals.
Once the viruses are in the body, they self-assemble into the cells and then stay in the nerve cells of the pelvis. Viruses tend to multiply and adapt to their environment very easily, which makes treatment difficult.
HSV-1 or HSV-2 can be found in people with infected secretions such as saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions.

Virus HSV-2

3. Recognize the symptoms of genital herpes

The appearance of blisters is considered a marker for an outbreak of an outbreak. The first outbreak will appear as early as 2 days after contracting the virus, or as late as 30 days later.
Common symptoms in men include blisters on the penis, scrotum, or buttocks (near or around the anus).
Common symptoms in women include blisters around or near the vagina, anus, and buttocks.
Symptoms common in both men and women include:
Blisters can appear in the mouth, on the lips, face and anywhere else in contact with infected areas. Infected areas often begin to itch, or tingle, before actual blisters appear. The blisters may ulcerate (open sores) and drain. A scab may appear on the sores within a week of an outbreak. Lymph nodes (which fight infection and inflammation in the body) may become swollen. There may be headaches, body aches and fever. Common symptoms of babies born with herpes (transmitted by vaginal delivery) include sores on the face, other organs, and genitals. Babies born with genital herpes can develop very serious complications such as blindness, brain damage, and even death.
Therefore, pregnant women need to report genital herpes infection during pregnancy to their doctor to take measures to prevent the virus from being passed on to the baby during delivery. The commonly used method is that the baby will be delivered via cesarean section instead of vaginal birth.

4. Diagnosis of genital herpes

A doctor can usually diagnose a genital herpes infection by visually examining the herpes sores. In addition, to increase accuracy, your doctor may order you to perform additional laboratory tests.
Blood tests can diagnose herpes simplex virus (herpes monoform) before experiencing an outbreak. Make an appointment with your doctor if you think you've been exposed to genital herpes, even if you haven't experienced any symptoms yet.

5. How are genital herpes treated?

Thuốc kháng vi-rút có thể giúp tăng tốc thời gian chữa lành vết loét và giảm đau

Treatment can reduce the risk of flare-ups, but it cannot cure herpes simplex virus disease.
5.1 Medicines
Antivirals can help speed up the healing time of sores and reduce pain. The drug is used immediately in treatment at the first signs of an outbreak (tingling, itching and other symptoms). People who experience flare-ups may also be prescribed medication to reduce the chance of future flare-ups.
5.2 Home care
Use mild detergent when showering or bathing in warm water. Keep the infected area clean and dry. Wear loose cotton clothing to keep the body, especially the intimate areas, comfortable.

6. What should pregnant women do when they have genital herpes?

Pregnant women with STDs are often worried about the possibility of passing the disease on to their babies. Genital herpes can be passed to a baby through vaginal delivery. So it's important to tell your doctor if you get genital herpes while you're pregnant.
Your doctor will provide you with the information you need to know during and after the birth of your baby. They can prescribe pregnancy-safe medications to make sure the baby is born healthy. They may also suggest that you choose to have your baby through a cesarean section.
Genital herpes can also cause pregnancy complications such as miscarriage or premature birth.

7. Long-term disease progression for genital herpes

Safe sex and using a condom every time you have sex with someone will help prevent the spread of genital herpes and other STDs.
There is no cure for genital herpes, but it can be controlled with medication. The disease lies in a latent (sleeping) form in your body until the favorable factors for the disease appear. Outbreaks can happen when you become stressed, sick, or tired. Your doctor will help you come up with a treatment plan that will keep the disease under control. If you have unusual symptoms, you should be examined and consulted with a specialist.

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Reference source: healthline.com

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