If you have just been diagnosed with herpes (or if you or your partner are affected by herpes and considering having children) then you may be searching for answers about how this virus affects your ability to conceive and have children.
Information for women who have herpes
Well, the excellent news is that if a woman has already been exposed to the Herpes simplex virus (HSV) then she will have antibodies built up inside her body to protect her baby from getting herpes throughout her pregnancy. Herpes will also not affect your ability to conceive or carry a baby in any physical way.
HSV is the cause of cold sores, genital herpes, herpes whitlow and other similar infections, so if you are female and have been exposed to this virus at one time or another the outcome is very good for protecting your baby.
Hormonal changes do tend to affect outbreaks for some people (particularly women) so it is common for females to have an increase in outbreaks during pregnancy or at the time of menstruation.
However, if you have outbreaks during pregnancy don’t be too worried about the baby growing in a ‘viral environment’, although the outbreaks are stressful and definitely not a lot of fun they are not harmful to your baby (other than the effects that they are having on you physically, such as stress, etc).
The only complication that you do have to be mindful of is the virus being active on the skin at the time of delivery if you are having a natural vaginal childbirth. When pregnant, your Doctor will be able to give you more guidance here and can assess the situation later on when the time is closer to the birth. Most women who have genital herpes do have a normal vaginal childbirth
You would need to talk to your Doctor if you are considering taking Valtrex (or any other drug) during pregnancy, he/she will be able to give you the best guidance here. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Valtrex in pregnant women and the manufacturer advises that it should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. In nursing mothers, Valtrex should be administered with caution and only when indicated.
Lysine, vitamin c with bioflavonoids and zinc are nutrients that are safe to take in reasonable quantities during pregnancy and can help to prevent and minimize outbreaks. They can also be beneficial for the developing baby. Avoiding foods that are rich in Arginine; such as chocolate, nuts, brown rice, oats, and caffeine (such as coffee and coca-cola) may also help to prevent outbreaks and is a gentle approach during pregnancy. Drink plenty of water and reduce stress however possible.
Information for men who have herpes
If you are a man who has herpes you can have healthy, happy children just like anyone else. Herpes does not affect your sperm count, your ability to conceive or the health and development of your children.
The only complication that you do need to be mindful of is passing the virus on to your female partner while she is actually pregnant. If a woman has her first encounter with the herpes virus at any point in the pregnancy, there is the possibility of the virus crossing the placenta and infecting the baby in the uterus. This transmission of the virus to the fetus can cause 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 baby in this way.
If your partner already has herpes then her body will have already produced antibodies to protect the developing fetus, so this risk will not be relevant. However, if your female partner has never been exposed to herpes then it is extremely important to protect her from catching the virus during her pregnancy. You will need to have your partner tested via a blood test to determine whether or not she already has antibodies to the herpes virus.
Just because a person cannot see or recall having any symptoms does not mean that they have never been exposed to the virus – their immune system may be completely suppressing the infection allowing them never to experience symptoms.
Once you have obtained a blood test and have determined whether or not your partner has HSV antibodies you will understand the possible risks more clearly. You may need to take extra care to prevent transmitting the virus to the mother during these delicate nine months.
Here is some practical advice for men if the mother does not have herpes:
- Avoid giving oral sex for the duration of the pregnancy if you have a history of facial herpes or cold sores
- Explore alternatives to intercourse, such as touching, kissing, fantasizing, massage, mutual masturbation, erotica, etc
- Use sensible safe sex practices (such as latex condoms or dental dams when possible – even though condoms are not a 100% guarantee they have been proven to cut the risk of transmission by about half).
- Communicate with your partner about when you are feeling symptoms
- Abstain from sex or contact with the area during “high risk” times (this includes from the moment you notice symptoms, while they are present and about a week after they have gone away).
- Take Valtrex or a herbal remedy such as Immune Support which could possibly aid in reducing the incidence of viral shedding
Steps to help reduce outbreaks:
- Drink lots of pure water every day (try to drink 6 -8 glasses every day)
- Supplement your diet with Lysine, vitamin c with bioflavonoids and zinc
- Boost the immune system with antiviral herbs such as Andrographis, Olive Leaf and Echinacea
- Get plenty of high quality sleep
- Relax your thoughts through meditation and mind claming exercises (such as deep breathing).
- Reduce any causes of stress in your life and find new ways to remedy any stress that is unavoidable.
- Exercise daily – take a walk, stretch or do yoga
- Try eating a diet rich in natural foods; cut down on white and refined sugars, white flour, dairy and processed meat products, alcohol, caffeine, fats and foods with additives
- Increase the amount of raw fruits and vegetables in your diet
Above all, enjoy the experience of bringing a child into this world. Each moment passes into the next and it is important to allow yourself to really appreciate and become enlightened with the pregnancy and birth, rather than dwelling on this measly little virus that has minimal chances of affecting the process in any way.