genital herpes cover image

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. The genital sores in this disease are blisters filled with infectious fluid. Genital herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV1 or HSV2). Herpes infection spreads through vaginal, oral or anal sex. The herpes virus resides in the fluids of the body such as semen, vaginal discharge, or any other form of secretion. Once the person catches infection, medicines and proper treatment can only slow down the frequency of outbreaks of the blisters. But, there is no permanent cure to get rid of herpes. 

If you are infected by HSV1, you face cold sores around your mouth and lips. These cold sores are also known as fever blisters and get transmitted through skin contact and kissing. Although HSV1 can also cause genital blisters, usually it is HSV2 that causes genital herpes. 

genital herpes in women

Let’s look at the common symptoms relating to genital herpes:

  • Fever, headache, and body aches.
  • Itching on the infected region of the body
  • Fluid-filled blisters in the genital area and rectum 
  • Inflammation of the lymph nodes
  • Blisters turning into ulcers
  • Scab formation over the healed ulcers
  • Cold sores on the lips and mouth

Immediate medical attention is a must whenever these symptoms arise. Especially, if you are pregnant and diagnosed with herpes, there are chances of the infection spreading to the baby.

Here are all the possibilities of diagnostic results of genital herpes in the table given below:

HSV (1+2) IgMHSV (1+2+IgG)Remarks
NegativeNegativeNo Infection or Very early Infection; No previous exposure
PositiveNegativeAcute Infection
PositivePositiveAcute Infection; Chronic infection; Could indicate re-activation; IgM may be positive for several months after the infection resolves
NegativePositivePast Infection

Pregnancy and genital herpes

Accepting the fact that you are pregnant and is diagnosed with herpes is quite tough. It is natural to feel scared about the whole condition. But, do not worry much, doctors are there to help you out and minimize the chances of risks associated with your pregnancy. 

According to doctors, if a woman is diagnosed with herpes before pregnancy or in the first trimester only, the risks of passing it to the baby are quite low. But as a precaution is better than cure, do visit a gynecologist just to be safe from any complications.

Pregnancy and herpes


When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with genital herpes towards the later stage of pregnancy, it becomes a major concern. The risk of passing the infection to the baby is quite high in such a condition, especially during normal delivery. It is observed that the chances of herpes infection spreading to the baby are more when the woman experiences outbreaks during the delivery. 

The newborn on coming in contact with the infection can develop ulcers on the skin around the mouth and eyes. Herpes virus can also potentially damage the nervous system of the newborn. In rare cases, the infection can prove to be lethal for the baby as the virus spreads to the womb. 

Also Read: Effective Home Remedies for STD


Best suited delivery option if you are facing genital herpes outbreaks?

To minimize the risk of passing herpes virus to the baby, you must ensure that there are no outbreaks during the time of delivery. Follow proper treatment and medications that will slow down the frequency of outbreak of the blisters. Hence, vaginal delivery is only advised for those women who are safe from the herpes outbreaks in the vagina. Whereas, in other cases, doctors carry out the C- section (cesarean section) to deliver a baby. C-section greatly reduces the chances of the baby coming in contact with herpes infection. 

Factoid: The risks of complications in the delivery are dangerously high when the expecting mother catches herpes in the third trimester.

Apart from pregnancy, herpes also causes other health complications that you should be aware of.

Other health complications caused by Herpes are as follows:

  1. Inflammation of the brain membranes and spinal cord
  2. Swelling in the urinary bladder
  3. Higher chances of contracting AIDS
  4. Infected newborns can have damaged eyes and brain
  5. Inflammation on the lining of the rectum

genital herpes prevention

Precautionary steps to follow:

  • Avoid having sex when you are experiencing the herpes outbreaks
  • Abstain from having unprotected sex. Use condoms, as they drastically reduce the chances of sexually transmitted infections.
  • You must inform your partner if you have genital herpes.
  • Immediately seek medical attention if you or your partner experience the symptoms of herpes.
  • If you or your partner is infected, then avoid skin contact.
  • Get timely and proper medical check-ups, especially before and after conceiving.
  • Take prescribed antiviral medicine, if diagnosed with herpes during pregnancy.

Keep these precautions in mind to be either safe from herpes or prevent it from spreading. 

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