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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Herpes infection in Pregnancy

What should a mother do if genital herpes infection occurs for the first time during pregnancy?

It is important to keep a close eye on the infection. There is no specific treatment for herpes and treatment to reduce the severity of the symptoms is all that is normally given. If there is evidence of the infection involving other organs, then the antiviral medication aciclovir may have to be administered, to moderate the course of the disease.

What if there is a recurrence of genital herpes in pregnancy?

Herpes infection will remain for life. If herpetic genital lesions reappear during pregnancy, it is just a repeat manifestation of the old infection and no specific measures are usually called for. Only symptomatic treatment will be required.

If the woman is prone to recurrent painful lesions, she could be put on antiviral medication such as acyclovir to suppress these until around 36 weeks of gestation.

Can genital herpes causes miscarriage or preterm labour?

Yes. If it is a primary infection, and if it affects the rest of the body, it could provoke uterine activity. This may lead to miscarriage or preterm delivery. Attempts will be made to prevent preterm delivery if uterine activity is noted, as long as there are no contraindications to this.

Does the fact that a pregnant woman has genital herpes influence the method of delivery?

Only if this is a primary infection or there active lesions at the time. Also in case of primary infection, if that occurs within six weeks of delivery, the shedding of the virus in the genital tract might still be high even in the absence of active lesions. A caesarean section is still the advised mode of delivery in such a case. Primary infection refers to the infection occuring for the first time, in this case, during pregnancy

If the expectant mother has suffered from the problem before the pregnancy and the herpes genital lesions are just a recurrence during pregnancy, a caesarean section is not mandatory even in the presence of active lesions during labour. The risk to the baby is very low and mode of delivery should be decided on an individual basis taking into consideration all other factors. page

A close-up image of active genital herpes lesions. The infection stays for life with on and off flare-ups. Vaginal delivery when there are active lesions poses a significant risk to the baby.

genital herpes