Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is a family of viruses that has been around for so long, it was described in ancient Greek and Egyptian history. Herpes is usually contracted through close bodily contact and although there are six types that can affect humans, the most common infections of pregnant women are caused by Herpes 1 (HSV 1) and Herpes 2 (HSV2).
Herpes 1 is an infection that causes fever blisters located on or near the mouth. In the past it was less common than Herpes 2 but in recent years is now responsible for 30 to 50% of lesions found on or near the vaginal area. Herpes 2 is an infection that causes blister-type lesions in the genital area and is usually painful to touch. The first-time (or primary) infection is usually the worst and is associated with painful and burning urination, fluid-filled blisters in the genital area, fever and sometimes a headache. Any infection thereafter is called a recurrent infection which is usually milder and has fewer symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, most infections are spread from one person to another when there are NO lesions or what’s commonly called asymptomatic shedding.
A first-time infection is treated with a medicine called Acylovir taken three times a day for 7 to 14 days. If a pregnant woman has Herpes 2 and a fever, she has to be admitted to the hospital to decrease her chances of developing pneumonia. For pregnant patients with recurrent infection, it is recommended that they take acyclovir three times a day beginning at 36-weeks up until the time of birth. Valtrex medicine may also be taken twice per day if the patient can’t tolerate Acylovir.
If lesions are present during labor, a cesarean section MUST be done to avoid an infection of the newborn. One out of 3200 babies will be infected with Herpes that causes severe diseases of the eye, skin and mouth. 80% of babies will die of Herpes 1 and 2 if they are not treated.
Please inform your healthcare provider of any symptoms of active lesions or previous history of Herpes immediately to avoid preventable complications.
Remember, a healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen. It takes a smart mother who knows what to do.
Educate yourself by purchasing my latest book The Smart Mother’s Guide To A Better Pregnancy!