Fortunately, it is fairly easy to monitor the potential for cervical cancer and to deal with problems, should they arise. Establish a good and open relationship with your gynecologist and remind him or her of your herpes history. Make sure you have if Pap test every six months, which checks the cells in their cervix and detects abnormalities. When changes are detected early, the treatment is simple and virtually 100 percent effective. Bear in mind that the majority of abnormalities that show up in Pap examinations are not indicators of cancerous conditions. But by having routine tests you are protecting yourself from the future development of unnecessary complications. ’
Herpes and Pregnancy
If you have facial herpes, pregnancy intrinsically is not a problem. But don’t expose a newborn infant to facial sores. Just exercise the precautions already discussed. If you have recurrent genital herpes, your major concern is that the baby may pick up the virus by contact during passage through the birth canal at the time of delivery. Infections of the fetus in the womb have been reported. These are very rare and only occur from primary infections acquired during pregnancy where, as you’ll remember, the virus has frequent play in the body until antibodies develop to drive the virus into latency. In come primary infections, the virus manages to be transported by the bloodstream across the placental barrier to infect the fetus. This does not occur with recurrent herpes! Recurrent genital herpes is highly localized. The dormant virus does not work its way up the birth canal to cross the placenta.
The ﬁgures on infants contracting herpes during delivery range from around 300 to 1500 newborns out of 3 to 3.5 million live births per year. However, with proper monitoring and precautionary measures, it is theoretically possible to prevent all of these. Tragically, not everyone is aware of how. to do this. I say tragically because a herpes infection to the newborn can be very serious indeed. The herpes virus can quickly take over essentially defenseless tissue, resulting in death of the infant in more than half the cases and severe brain damage in many of the remainder. After about 3 months, the baby is much more able to recover from a herpes invasion, and the crucial danger period is over.
Does this mean an automatic Caesarean delivery for every woman who has herpes? Absolutely not. So long as herpes is not present in the birth canal at the time of delivery, everything should proceed as normal for a vaginal delivery. If herpes is present then, a Caesarean section is the appropriate way to protect the baby. Learn about treatment of herpes rash.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT HERPES AND PREGNANCY
First, work closely with your obstetrician. He or she must know about your history with herpes. You should both start to be able to identify, as accurately as possible, the particular characteristics of your outbreaks prodromal signs, site or recurrence, healing time, and so on. You should be fairly good at this by the time you have put into effect the advice in another article. Then the doctor will be in a better position to help and advise you. Recurrences during the pregnancy should be no cause for concern in and of themselves so long as everything else is ﬁne. As you near term, you will be monitored more closely to identify if herpes is present or not. This will mean more frequent examinations and al culture tests. A decision will then be made as to best way to proceed. If there are signs of a recurrence near term which could interfere with delivery, Caeserean birth will be recommended. If everything is clear and well, this will not be necessary. The whole secret is a close monitoring of the state of the birth canal all the way through the pregnancy and especially near time of delivery.
Points to Remember
- Give your obstetrician all available information
- Work closely with him or her, and there should be no danger to your baby. If every expectant mother who has genital herpes were monitored, there would be no danger from herpes for any baby.
Can you nurse your baby? By all means. Just don’t let the baby come in contact with herpes sores in any way. Was your hands as you normally would before nursing and exercise your hygiene precautions. Thousands of healthy babies are born every year to mothers who have genital herpes.
The potential complications such as secondary infections, herpes of the eye, cervical cancer, and complication during birth can be quite frightening to people. But in fact‘ they can all be dealt with fairly easily with some simple precautions. Getting over the fear is the worst part, and all takes is accurate information.