|I have heard that genital herpes can cause brain damage in
babies. Since I have a recurring infection I wonder if I should
make the decision not to have children?
The initial infection of genital herpes causes severe flu
like symptoms, accompanied by a variety of genital discomfort.
Open sores with a blister which turns crusty are indicative
of this infection. For those three weeks of the initial
infection, it is extremely contagious. For some people,
there is only the one infection, but for many unlucky patients,
the virus tends to rear its head repeatedly.
The biggest danger to the baby is a primary infection that
occurs in the pregnancy. If it occurs early in the pregnancy
it can cause miscarriage or early labour. Towards the end
of the pregnancy a baby born to a woman with a primary herpes
infection has roughly 25% chance of contracting the disease.
The infection can cause blindness, skin infection and brain
damage. However modern science means that the baby has the
option of anti-viral medication at birth, and all precautions
will be taken to reduce the risk.
Since your infection is well established, your baby would
not face this risk. The chances of a baby contracting the
virus in a situation such as yours, is very low. Since your
doctor would be informed, all precautions would be taken
to reduce the risk as much as possible. The main risk to
the baby in your situation would be infection during delivery.
Your doctor may opt for a caesarian birth to keep the risk
to the baby as low as possible. If you want to consider
a vaginal birth, the doctor may agree to test regularly
towards the birth date, and even as labour starts, to ensure
that you do not have an active infection during the labour.
Once your waters break the situation will be closely monitored,
since the risk of infection is increased by a lack of amniotic
fluid, and a caesarian may be the best option in this case.
Any baby born to a mother with genital herpes will probably
be kept apart from the other babies. Since the immune systems
of all the babies are undeveloped, this prevents any infection
from spreading. As mentioned, new born babies at risk of
genital herpes infection may be given anti-viral medication.
In addition you will be trained in hygiene so that you can
breastfeed your baby without transmitting the virus.
If you have genital herpes, whether or not you plan to
get pregnant, you should take precautions not to transmit
the disease during sexual intercourse. In particular you
should avoid sex when you have lesions present.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Effects
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Bacterial
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Chlamydia
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Genital
warts and HPV
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Gonorrhoea
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - HIV: Chances of infection
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - HIV: Implications
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - HIV: Testing
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - HIV: Syphilis
Sexually Transmitted Diseases - HIV: Trichomoniasis