An STI, or sexually transmitted infection, is passed on during sexual activity with an infected person or by shared needles. Genital herpes is an STI caused by the herpes simplex virus, which comes in two forms: type 1 and type 2. Genital herpes can be transmitted to your baby during delivery or labour; therefore, if you have this condition, you need to be aware of the risks.
Symptoms to look for
Herpes presents itself in a number of ways, including red bumpy areas on your vulva or vagina anywhere between two and 14 days after you were infected. These bumps can become blisters that will eventually burst and can be quite painful. You could end up with clusters of unpleasant sores, or just a few; in addition, your genital area could burn or itch or be generally painful, with discharge from the vagina or pain on urination. You could also feel like you have the flu, with aching muscles and fever; however, up to 90 per cent of those with herpes have mild or even no symptoms. If you are contemplating a pregnancy, it could be a good idea to be tested at a clinic or to do this yourself with home STI kits.
Transmission to baby
Giving herpes to your newborn could result in severe health problems for the baby. This can happen during birth if you are contagious or have an outbreak while in labour. If the expectant mother is infected with herpes during the first trimester, she could suffer a miscarriage, or the baby could suffer birth defects. According to a report in the Independent, a herpes infection can even lead to serious conditions that can kill a baby.
Taking a few precautions can make all the difference. If you are interested in finding out more about home STI kits, consult an expert such as www.greenwichsexualhealth.org to see what options are available.
Proper medical care can minimise the risks of herpes; however, the first steps are either to take adequate precautions to prevent being infected or to ascertain whether you have the infection. If you do, inform your doctor so that adequate measures are put in place to make sure your baby is born safely and is not affected in any way.