Herpes During Pregnancy: Dangers, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Learn all about herpes during pregnancy. Here we will provide you with the information about dangers of herpes during pregnancy along with its symptoms and diagnosis.

Herpes during pregnancy

Herpetic infection is a viral disease. It manifests itself as a characteristic rash of grouped vesicles on the skin and mucous membranes.

Once in the human body, the virus parasitizes it all life, embedded in the genetic apparatus of nerve cells. For a long time, the virus will not or cannot show itself. Outside the exacerbation, it “slumbers” in the nerve nodes, waiting for favorable conditions. After all, the human body in a normal, healthy state usually suppresses the hiding enemy. Exacerbations occur with a weakening of immunity like for colds, inflammatory diseases, hypothermia, stress, beriberi and during pregnancy.

In this case, the virus begins to multiply actively, gets on the skin and mucous thereby causing specific rashes. During this period, a person can infect others as the virus is excreted from the affected skin, with saliva, and through urine.

Understanding Herpes

In nature, there are two varieties of the herpes simplex virus that are herpes type I (labial) and herpes type II (genital).

  1. Herpes Type I Virus
  2. Understanding herpes

    The herpes type I virus is also called the labial virus. It most often affects the mucous and skin of the lips, eyes, and nose. It can also cause damage to brain and lungs. And only in 20-30% of cases of the herpes virus type I can cause damage to the genital organs.

    Almost 70-80% of the population is infected by Herpes simplex type I virus in their childhood. This is generally through airborne or by contact like shared towel or dishes.

  3. Herpes Type II Virus
  4. This virus, in contrast, most often affects the mucosa of the urinary tract. Infection with genital herpes, as is not hard to guess, usually occurs with the onset of sexual activity. This is one of the reasons why doctors suggest to stay safe when having intercourse.

Symptoms of Herpes During Pregnancy

The greatest danger during pregnancy is genital herpes. We will talk more about it in detail here.

  1. Genital Herpes
  2. Genital herpes usually manifests after 3-14 days after the virus enters the human body, most often in about a week. Sometimes it does not make itself felt.

    Genital Herpes

    More often there first appear painful and itchy bubbles on the skin or mucous. Then the ulcers begin to appear, which are then covered with a crust.

    The size of the vesicles is 2-3 mm. They are usually poured out by a group that occupies 0.5 to 2.5 cm of the affected surface. This stage of the disease lasts not for long but only for about 2-3 days. Then the vesicles burst, and in their place sores are formed.

    They are covered with a yellow coating and then they are completely healed within 2-4 weeks. If a secondary infection joins, the wound may not last a long time. In addition, there are also some complaints of itching.

  3. Similar to Thrush
  4. In some cases, specific rashes are absent. The disease can manifest as discharge from the genital tract, itching, burning, appearance of cracks in genital area and edema.

    With this variant of genital herpes, the disease is similar to an ordinary thrush. All of which can lead to incorrect treatment if self-medication is done without preliminary diagnosis.

  5. Latent Carrier of Herpes
  6. Late Carrier

    It is interesting that more than half of all patients with genital herpes do not know about their disease. In this case, they are the latent carriers of herpes.

    When there are no symptoms of the disease, but the virus is actively excreted from the genital tract of the woman.

    In this case, it is a potential source of infection of the partner, as well as the baby in childbirth.

People with a good immune system are more likely to tolerate a herpetic infection. These people often have a latent form in them. However, with a decrease in immunity, the disease is more often severe and prolonged.

Dangers of Herpes During Pregnancy

Timely diagnosis of herpes in pregnant women is extremely important. This is because there is a risk of severe intrauterine infection with damage to the skin, liver and central nervous system of the fetus.

During pregnancy, both the primary infection of herpes simplex virus and the activation of an existing infection can occur. This is due to a decrease in immunity which is a characteristic of a normal pregnancy. When infected with herpes during pregnancy, serious complications are possible, and the shorter the time, the more severe they can be.

  1. Herpes Before Conception
  2. Before Conception

    If a woman has contracted herpes before conception, then the situation is not so dangerous.

    In this case, the risk of impaired development of the fetus is minimal.

  3. Herpes in First 12 Weeks of Pregnancy
  4. Infection with herpes during pregnancy in the first 12 weeks very often leads to many complications. Infection of the baby with skin and liver, nervous system damage, developmental malformations and even abortion can be caused.

  5. Herpes in Late Pregnancy
  6. Late Carrier

    Herpes, at later dates, poses a risk of premature birth and polyhydramnios or lack of water. The probability of infection of the fetus is also preserved during late pregnancy.

    The virus can penetrate to the baby either through the placenta, or strike the membranes of the fetal bladder. This is a dangerous thing and should be treated properly after consulting a specialist.

In chronic herpetic infection during pregnancy, antibodies are found. These antibodies penetrate the placenta and protect the baby from the effects of the herpes virus. However, if exacerbations of the disease during pregnancy occur frequently then it disrupts the placenta. This, in turn, causes intrauterine growth retardation and even miscarriage.

In addition, if genital herpes during pregnancy is aggravated before the very birth, there is a possibility of infection of the baby at birth.

Diagnostics of Herpes During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the analysis of the herpes simplex virus is mandatory for a woman when registering. In case of complaints, specific rashes, the analysis is taken repeatedly at any time of pregnancy. The studies used are as follows.

  1. Identifying Antibodies of Herpes
  2. Identification of antibodies to the herpes simplex virus type I and II is the first step towards diagnosing it. This is a blood test in which immunoglobulins of classes M and G are detected for herpes. That is, in this case, it is not the virus itself that is determined, but the body’s response to it.

    Identifying Symptoms

    Now, if a woman’s immunoglobulins of class G are detected in her blood to herpes. Then this indicates that she has already been infected with the virus for a long time. The presence of antibodies of class M indicates an acute process. This is a primary infection or exacerbation of a chronic disease.

    In addition, to diagnose herpes, a doctor can prescribe a second analysis for antibodies of class G after 10-12 days. The increase in the number of antibodies in 3-4 times indicates an exacerbation of the infection. The detection of class G and M antibodies most often indicates a recent infection. Since in 3 months immunoglobulins of class M are removed from the bloodstream.

    However, sometimes the period of circulation of antibodies M can significantly increase. This depends on the infectious agent and individual characteristics of the future mother’s immunity.

  3. Examination of Secretions
  4. Examination of the secretions from the genital tract to the herpes simplex virus is the next step. The most common method of diagnosing the presence of the herpes virus in pregnancy is PCR (polymerase chain reaction method). This is because it is available, highly sensitive and quickly yields results.

    PCR is one of the modern and most reliable methods of detecting infections in the human body. It allows determining the presence of the causative agent of the disease. This is true, even if in the material under study it is present in a very small concentration. Just a few molecules of its DNA make this method the most accurate one.

  5. Analysis Process
  6. The analysis is carried out as follows. In a test tube, a certain portion of the DNA of bacterium or virus is repeatedly copied, adding special reagents. Having multiplied the cells of the pathogen of infection in this way, it is then easy to determine its presence.

    Testtube test

    A smear for PCR diagnosis is taken by a gynecologist with a special brush from the cervical canal. This is done when the pregnant woman is in the gynecological chair. This is an absolutely painless procedure. The resulting material is placed in a test tube with a special medium and sent to the laboratory.

    Special preparation for the analysis is not required. For more accurate results, it is desirable that 2 days before the person should not syringe and avoid sexual contact. In addition, the smear is taken no earlier than 3 days after the end of use of any vaginal suppositories.

Treatment of Herpes During Pregnancy

Antiviral therapy in most cases during pregnancy is not carried out. Such treatment can be prescribed only to women with very pronounced symptoms. This usually happens in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. However, using of antiviral drugs in the form of ointments is allowed at all times during pregnancy.


The future mom is usually prescribed immune-modulating drugs. These are drugs that help correct the immune system. They come in candles or intravenously.

Widespread during pregnancy received interferon preparations. It replenishes its inadequate production in the body with herpes. Interferon is a protein that is normally produced in the body. It is able to fight all viruses.

With the weakening of immunity and with a significant amount of rashes, intravenous preparations of immune-globulins can be used too. It is possible to use such treatment methods as laser irradiation of blood and ozone therapy.

It is very important to protect the baby from getting herpes during childbirth. For this antiviral treatment is prescribed but only in some cases. Like if the mother got herpes shortly before delivery and cesarean was impossible to be performed. Also if the operation was done 4-6 hours after the bladder ruptured.

Precautionary Measure to Avoid Herpes

The prophylactic use of antiviral drugs, immune-modulating drugs and multivitamins are suggested when a woman with frequent herpes problem plans a pregnancy.


During pregnancy, women with herpes should take a closer look at their health, avoid hypothermia and take vitamin complexes.

Now, if the husband has herpes during pregnancy then that’s a bit different. First, check if it is a type II virus prone to frequent exacerbations. Then check if the mother has antibodies to fight this herpes or not. In any case, it might be best to abstain from any sexual activity for now. On the other hand, the partner must undergo long-term antiviral treatment as well.

Naturally, you should observe the usual rules of hygiene as well.

  • Do not use other people’s towels.
  • Avoid sitting without clothes on any surface in swimming pools, fitness clubs and baths.
  • Never share toothbrush, razors, and syringes with anyone.

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Herpes During Pregnancy: Dangers, Symptoms and Diagnosis