When you are a woman who has an established (i.e. previously diagnosed) case of genital herpes that you have relatively under control thanks to antiviral prescriptions and basic self-care, you may be lulled into a sense of complacency and comfort in your life. That is, until you get pregnant. Then all of your original concerns about this common STD may come right back into play, causing you undue stress. Rather than allow yourself to become stressed and worried needlessly, get to know some of the important facts about pregnancy and genital herpes and what you can do to protect yourself and your unborn child during this time.
Viral Transmission During Pregnancy
The main concern that many women with genital herpes have during pregnancy is the transmission of the virus to their unborn baby. This is a legitimate concern because while the virus is relatively harmless (in a major health sense) to adults, it is not the same for a baby.
If a newborn or fetus does contract the virus while in-utero or while being born, they could suffer serious health issues and birth defects. However, there is good news. Because you already have the virus and are already treating it, you have a much lower chance of transmitting the virus on to your baby.
At the time of delivery, a woman with HSV-1 (with no current outbreak) has an 18 percent chance of transmitting the virus, and with HSV-2 the risk is essentially zero. These low percentages are because you already have antibodies in your system that fight off the virus as much as possible. And, if you do have an outbreak at the time of delivery, a cesarean section eliminates the majority of the risk of transmission.
Herpes Medications During Pregnancy
Another concern for pregnant women with genital herpes is the risk of taking their intermittent or daily suppressive medications during their pregnancy. Unfortunately, large-scale studies have not been completed to determine the risks of medications such as acyclovir and valacyclovir.
However, there have been some studies of pregnancies while using those drugs that was open and maintained for several years. Acyclovir and valacyclovir both proved to cause no significant increase in pre- or post-natal issues. However, famiciclovir was not tested thoroughly enough to reach any (even tentative) conclusions.
As such, you should most definitely contact an obstetrics physician, like those at Triad OB-GYN PC, if you find out you are pregnant and are currently on famiciclovir. You may need to switch medications, at least for the duration of your pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Now that you have a better understanding of how having genital herpes may affect your pregnancy, you can rest a little easier. As long as you communicate openly with your obstetrics physician and keep your condition controlled and monitored, you run a very low risk of any issues or complications. So, be sure to keep in contact with your doctor and take precautions while pregnant and during delivery.