Women and genital herpes

Genital herpes in women is more common than in men (by approximately twice as much, actually). In the United States from ages 14-49 years old, 20% of women have genital herpes while only 11% of men (download the ebook). The average of all Americans who have herpes is 14-49 years old is 16%. There is more of a chance of a male passing genital herpes to a female than female-to-male because vaginas have more mucous membrane than penises. Interestingly, there is a wide variation when race is taken into consideration. Specifically, 48% of black women have genital herpes; overall, 39% of blacks are infected compared to about 12 percent for whites, the CDC said. (Reuters).

What about herpes and pregnancy?

If you get pregnant and have had herpes for longer than a year, then your body has built up a lot of immunity to the virus. This means there is less viral shedding and less chances of outbreak. You can't spread herpes to your baby internally (blood, amniotic fluid, etc.), so the only aspect to pay attention to is minimizing the chance of having a herpes outbreak while you are having a vaginal delivery (since herpes is passed via skin-to-skin contact). There are some rare cases where herpes has created complications in childbirth, but for the vast majority of women, childbirth with herpes doesn't complicate things. From ASHA: "... the evidence to date suggests that acyclovir does not carry increased risk of birth defects or adverse pregnancy outcome. On the strength of this data, the use of daily, suppressive treatment during the last month of pregnancy is becoming increasingly common." The best course of action is to get on daily suppressive herpes medication as the due date approaches. And if an outbreak occurs, then a C-section will be the administered.

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