## Understanding the Risks of Herpes in Pregnancy
Pregnant women may worry about how their medical condition could affect their unborn baby. With herpes, this fear is well founded. Herpes, if active during or near the time of delivery, can be dangerous for your pregnancy and your baby. Below, we will discuss what type of herpes, how it is spread, and how it affects pregnancy.
### Types of Herpes
There are two types of herpes that can impact pregnancy—herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
HSV-1 is the type more commonly known as “oral herpes.” It is spread from mouth to mouth, through contact with oral fluids, or through contact with secretions of the infected area.
HSV-2 is the type commonly known as “genital herpes.” It is spread through sexual intercourse or contact with the infected genital area. It is also possible to spread HSV-2 to other parts of the body, such as the eyes, through contact with infected fluids.
### Risk to Pregnancy
A pregnant woman can transmit HSV-1 or HSV-2 to her baby while they pass through the birth canal.
The risks that herpes can have on a baby depend on when it is contracted. If a woman contracts the virus for the first time during pregnancy, the risk for her baby is much higher than if she already had the virus prior to becoming pregnant.
**If contracted for the first time during pregnancy:**
* The virus can spread to the baby in the womb
* The baby might develop an infection in the amniotic fluid
* The baby also can develop a severe infection of the central nervous system
* The baby could develop an infection caused by a virus
In the worst cases, contracting herpes during pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage, a preterm labor, or even a stillbirth.
**If contracted prior to or during pregnancy:**
* The virus can be spread to the baby during delivery
* The baby can develop an infection of the central nervous system
* The baby can develop an infection caused by the virus
Fortunately, the risk of these potential outcomes drops significantly if the woman already had herpes prior to or during pregnancy.
### How to Protect Your Baby from Herpes
The best way to protect your baby from herpes is to get tested prior to pregnancy and, if necessary, receive the recommended treatment. But women who may already have herpes can still have a safe pregnancy. Some precautions pregnant women and their doctors may take to decrease the risk of transmission include:
* Avoiding any stress that could cause a herpes outbreak, such as excessive heat and severe cold
* Avoiding intercourse during a herpes outbreak as the virus can be spread
* Discussing the risks of a cesarean section with your doctor
If a woman has active herpes at the time of delivery, a cesarean section is recommended to decrease the risk of infection to the baby. No matter the situation, it’s important to discuss all the options with your doctor.
Herpes can present a serious threat to a pregnancy. It is important to get tested prior to becoming pregnant, and to understand the risks of transmission and symptoms of an outbreak. With proper monitoring and precautions, your baby, and you, can remain safe.
Seek medical advice immediately if you think you have herpes or are experiencing symptoms of an outbreak.
Welcome to my fertility blog. This is a space where I will be sharing my experiences as I navigate through the world of fertility treatments, as well as provide information and resources about fertility and pregnancy.