She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of water dancing with light..
There are two powerful weapons in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.
Women with herpes often experience pain while urinating. It is important to avoid problems of urinary retention by drinking plenty of fluids to dilute the urine and thereby reduce pain and stinging. For anyone experiencing extreme pain when urinating, the process can be less painful when done in a bath. If the pain is being caused internally from an infection of viral influences, a herbal tea known as Buchu can be ingested consistently to reduce symptoms. This herb has been known to remedy and aid the pain caused in the urinary tract system. Buchu has mild diuretic and antiseptic properties due to the volatile oils it contains. Visit the treatments page for remedies and self-help tips that may be useful in relieving the pain and discomfort of herpes.
It is important to note that having genital herpes is not associated with the development of cervical cancer. An increased risk for getting cervical cancer is limited to the presence of another type of STD called the human papilloma virus (HPV) or also known as genital warts. There is a general misconception of the connection between herpes and cervical cancer due to the indication in studies that has shown the herpes virus being present in approximately 50% of women with cervical cancer. There are many variants that create this correlation between the percentage of women with herpes and their cervical cancer condition. It is wrong to isolate this connection alone and assume that herpes is the core factor in the cancer state.
There is no evidence that directly links herpes to cervical cancer, actually it is only when the person has the human papilloma virus (HPV) in conjunction with the herpes virus that the condition is highly possible and the misconceptions could very well arise from a lack of understanding of this relationship between the two. The role of herpes in a case such as this is more a matter of the exacerbation of an already compromised region. HSV can aggravate and worsen a case of HPV and then from this create an increased risk of cervical cancer.
This does not mean that all women with herpes are at risk of cervical cancer. Risk groups are specific to those with HPV and any women with herpes need not subscribe to this notion of a cervical cancer connection. With an ideal, optimal lifestyle accompanied with self-love and care, any women with HSV will live a normal, healthy life without any acute complications associated to the virus.
Having herpes does not mean that you will not be able to have children (whether you are male or female). When considering herpes in women and during pregnancy there need only be the right understanding and precautions taken and then any able women can still have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
Women with genital herpes can experience a safe pregnancy and normal vaginal childbirth.
At present, HSV screening for all pregnant women nationwide is not practical. This is because an accurate, type-specific serology (blood test) is not available in most commercial laboratories besides the Western blot. This in general limits the ability of individuals to accurately determine the presence of HSV in their system and can create a discrepancy in the awareness of expecting mothers as to their risks.
If you experience your first outbreak late in pregnancy, get a Western blot serology, if at all possible.
If performed promptly, a Western blot can tell you:
- If the outbreak is a true primary infection (a new infection in a person with no previous antibodies to either HSV-1 or HSV-2).
- Whether the outbreak is a non-primary first episode (an infection of HSV-2 in a person with previous antibodies to (HSV-1 or HSV-2).
- If the present outbreak is a recurrence of an already established infection.
Ask your doctor to make the appropriate arrangements and to advise the lab of how many weeks pregnant you are. From here an individualized evaluation of the risks to the unborn child can be established and the appropriate precautions can be employed.
Herpes in Women and During Pregnancy
20-25% of pregnant women have genital herpes.
Women with a history of genital herpes, before becoming pregnant, have a low risk of transmitting the virus to their baby. This is because of antibodies circulating in the mother’s blood – these antibodies will protect the baby during pregnancy.
“Recurrent” genital herpes (repeat episodes of the outbreaks of an already established virus) presents only a minimal risk during pregnancy, though it may interfere with the woman’s enjoyment of the pregnancy and comfort levels while experiencing the active outbreaks and their accompanying symptoms.
Many women who have their first outbreak of genital herpes during pregnancy do not actually have a new infection, instead, the outbreak is the first symptomatic recurrence of a longstanding infection. That is, the first time symptoms of an outbreak have occurred, even though the infection was contracted some time ago.
If a woman has primary herpes (her first encounter with the virus) at any point in the pregnancy, there is the possibility of the virus crossing the placenta and infecting the unprotected baby in the uterus (about 5% of cases). This can be a very dangerous situation for the child and this transmission of the virus to the fetus causes neonatal herpes, a potentially fatal condition. Mothers who acquire genital herpes in the last few weeks of pregnancy are at the highest risk of transmitting the virus to their fetus.
If the case happens to be that the actually sexual act that has created the conception is also the first exposure and infection of the virus, then there is the possible risk of miscarriage in the early stages. Although the infection from the herpes virus at the very early stages of conception has manifested miscarriage for some women it is rare and carries a low level of possibility that this will occur. Some variants that can affect and prevent this outcome would be the state and physical well-being of the mother herself. Contracting HSV in the early stages of pregnancy also contributes to an increased risk of pre-term labour, spontaneous abortion, congenital herpes and intrauterine growth restriction.
After the initial exposure to the herpes virus it takes 3 months for the body to create antibodies to it. When a mother becomes infected in the very early stages of pregnancy, there is the sufficient amount of time for the body to create antibodies for her and the child before the time of birth; this is most crucial. The primary concerns with contracting the herpes virus during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester, are more specific to the later stages of the pregnancy when the placenta has been developed and can transmit the virus on to the fetus via the placental blood source. If the child contracts herpes from the placenta in this manner there is an increased risk of a miscarriage, as well as slight possibilities of the fetus developing birth defects. The issue also arises that during this later period closer to the birth, there is not always ample time for the antibodies to become established in both the mother and child’s system before the time of the child’s delivery.
If the child is not fully protected with antibodies to the virus when it is born, then there is far more impact to the child in the case where it may actually contract the herpes virus such as in the event of a canal birth while a primary active outbreak is occurring. This can be a very dangerous situation with life threatening consequences for the newborn infant. The risk of the virus being transferred post-natally through breast milk and other sources is also present for the child who has not built up antibodies to the virus at birth. This is highly dependent on what the gestational age was at the time of exposure to the virus.
Many women find that their outbreaks tend to increase as the pregnancy progresses. This is likely because of the immune suppression that takes place to prevent the mother’s body from rejecting the fetus. The dramatic fluctuation and changes in hormones during the pregnancy may also play a role.
The use of a fetal scalp monitor (scalp electrodes – used to monitor the baby’s heartbeat during childbirth) makes tiny punctures in the baby’s scalp, which may serve as portals of entry for the herpes virus and increase the risk of infection to the child.
Childbirth and the delivery
Less than 0.1% of babies get neonatal herpes. In about 90% of cases, neonatal herpes is transmitted when an infant comes into contact with HSV 1 or 2 in the birth canal during delivery.
The spread of herpes to newborns is rare. If the mother is experiencing an active outbreak in the vaginal area when birth is to take place, there is the option of delivering through Caesarean section surgery, where the infection can be bypassed completely and all risks of infection to the child is removed. This is the usual method of approach for such cases.
There is a high risk of transmission if the mother has an active outbreak at the time of delivery.
Between 10-14% of women with genital herpes have an active lesion at delivery. The odds are higher for women who acquire herpes during pregnancy, and lower for women who have had herpes for more than six years.
Supplementation of preventative medicines and substances that are taken leading up to the birth can minimize the event of an active as well as asymptomatic outbreak occurring when it is time to have the child. This preventative approach will lower any chance of infection to the child and reduce the need for a caesarean section being performed.
There is a small risk of transmission from asymptomatic shedding (when the virus reactivates without causing any symptoms). The chance of this occurring can be hard to determine in each individual case but it has of a very low percentage of possibility; that of 5% of days during the year. The chance of this happening can be greatly reduced with preventative supplementation and viral suppression.
Newly infected people (whether pregnant or not) have a higher rate of asymptomatic shedding for roughly a year following a primary episode, and this higher rate of asymptomatic shedding, plus the lack of antibodies, create the greater risk for babies whose mothers are infected in the last trimester.
Newborns may be infected by mothers who first get herpes in the later stages of pregnancy and just before giving birth because there has not been enough time for the child to build up natural protection (immunity) and, when the virus is active during delivery, the baby is at risk.
Babies born prematurely may be at a slightly increased risk, even if the mother has a long-standing infection. This is because the transfer of maternal antibodies to the fetus begins at about 28 weeks of pregnancy and continues until birth.
Maternal illness following a cesarean is approximately 28%, compared with 1.6% following a vaginal delivery.
During a severe first episode in the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy, which can lead to miscarriage.
From a first episode in the last trimester of pregnancy, when there is a large amount of virus present and insufficient time for the mother to produce antibodies to protect the unborn baby.
If a woman has primary herpes (her first encounter with the virus) at any point in the pregnancy, there is the possibility of the virus crossing the placenta and infecting the baby in the uterus (about 5% of cases).
Mothers who acquire genital herpes in the last few weeks of pregnancy are at the highest risk of transmitting the virus.
To be infected with herpes in the last few weeks of pregnancy is rare but it may account for almost 50% of all cases of neonatal herpes.
If the infection is a true primary case (no previous antibodies to either HSV-1 or HSV-2), and a mother becomes HSV positive at the end of pregnancy, the risk of transmission can be as high as 50%. The risk is also higher if a mother has had a prior infection with HSV-1, but not HSV-2.
If you or your partner has genital herpes (pregnant or not), you should inform and consult your doctor or obstetrician.
When a male partner has genital herpes and the woman has no evidence of infection, you may need to consider:
- A blood test to establish if the woman has HSV antibodies.
- The use of condoms from after the time of conception through to the time of birth.
- Your and your taking oral antiviral and suppressive medication for the duration of the pregnancy to suppress genital herpes outbreaks.
- Avoiding oral sex for the duration of the pregnancy if the woman’s partner has a history of facial herpes or cold sores (HSV1).
- Exploring alternatives to intercourse, such as intimacy, kissing, fantasizing, massage, etc.
As the last stage of pregnancy approaches:
- Regular check-ups should be had.
- The woman and her doctor can go through the possibilities that arise with being pregnant and having herpes. From here her options can be explained and the matter of a Caesarean delivery can be discussed.
- The use of antiviral drugs can be considered.
- While the risk from the scalp monitor may be quite small, a cautious approach would be advised for a pregnant woman to ask that it not be used unless there is a compelling medical reason. If it is necessary an alternative is the external monitor, which tracks the baby’s heartbeat through the mother’s abdomen.
- The pregnant woman should observe the guidelines for a healthy pregnancy.
- Good nutrition and rest are even more important at this time.
After birth HSV can also be spread to an infant if someone kisses the baby while they have an active cold sore.
Herpes in an infant can be very detrimental. The child can become extremely ill, causing eye or throat infections, damage to the central nervous system, mental retardation and even death.
By the time a baby is around six months old, their immune system is better able to cope with exposure to the herpes virus and are at less risk.
If you have an outbreak of genital herpes, be highly conscious of your hygiene and physical interactions with the child. Be sure to wash your hands before touching the baby to avoid any possibilities of the virus becoming exposed to them.
As long as the parent is highly aware and cautious that the infected area does not come into direct contact with the child there is no particular risk in:
- Holding the baby
- Having the baby in bed with you and being intimate with the child.
Genital herpes, in either parent, does not generally affect children and there is little risk of transmission so long as normal hygiene and herpes prevention methods are practised. If a child shows signs of herpes in the genital region however, this is a serious case and is most definitely an indication of sexual abuse.
Initial exposure to HSV in babies and young children, after being kissed by someone with a cold sore, can cause gingivostomatitis, an infection of the mouth and gums which goes largely unrecognized and untreated in most cases. Gingivostomatitis usually appears as infected ulcer-like sores in the mouth and gums and is a response by the child’s body from the exposure to the herpes virus.
Symptoms, such as blisters, pimples and sores on the body, can be indicative of herpes. Other symptoms, such as lethargy, poor feeding, irritability, or fever can be caused from a herpes infection but all of these symptoms can also stem from any number of minor health problems not related to HSV. For this reason it is crucial that a profession evaluation and diagnosis is made, preferably through a thorough blood test.
If the baby is not behaving well, is feverish, irritable, and has blisters, do not delay in seeing a health care practitioner and initiating treatment for the cause. At the sign of these symptoms it is of great importance to take the child to your pediatrician immediately, instead of waiting to see whether the situation will improve.
For more in-depth information on herpes virus symptoms