Pregnancy and Genital Herpes

Pregnant women with genital herpes shouldn’t be overly worried about passing the virus on to the baby.

A mother can pass on an infection to her baby during delivery. However, if a woman had genital herpes before getting pregnant, or if she is first infected early in pregnancy, the chance that her baby will be infected is less than 1%.

Women with genital herpes are examined carefully for any symptoms before delivery of their child(ren). If sores or signs that an outbreak erupt at the time of delivery, the baby may be delivered by cesarean section.

READ ALSO: Genital Herpes: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Still, the risk of a mother passing on an herpes infection to her baby is high (30% to 50%) when a woman is newly infected late in pregnancy. This is because the immune system of the body has not developed protective antibodies against the virus. Women with an older herpes infection have antibodies against the virus, which help protect the baby. If you are pregnant and think you may have been recently infected, see your doctor.

READ ALSO: Risks Of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

How to Avoid Getting Herpes While Pregnant

Women who don’t have genital herpes should be careful about engaging in sexual activities during the third trimester. Avoid sexual encounter altogether during the third trimester, unless you are certain that your partner is herpes free. If your partner gets cold sores or oral herpes, don’t allow them to perform oral sex on you during this time.

Some doctors think all women should be tested for herpes when they get pregnant, especially if their sex partners have herpes.

READ ALSO: Cholestasis of Pregnancy: 6 Things to Know

Genital Herpes Treatment during Pregnancy

Women taking antiviral drugs for herpes, either daily suppressive therapy or occasional therapy for outbreaks, should consult their doctor on whether to take the drugs during pregnancy. Herpes infection in a newborn is also severe. Do not allow anyone with a cold sore on the mouth to kiss the baby. If you have a cold sore, don’t kiss the baby, and wash hands with soap and water before touching the baby.


Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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