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Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

Subsections on this page:

About Herpes and Pregnancy

USPSTF: Do Not Screen for Genital Herpes [8/5/16] by Veronica Hackethal, MD - The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released new recommendations advising against screening for genital herpes simplex virus (HSV) in asymptomatic adolescents and adults, including pregnant women.

The report was released August 2 and updates the 2005 USPSTF recommendations, drawing on "substantial" new evidence about the accuracy of screening tests for HSV-2 infection and "limited" new evidence about its harms and benefits.

New Guidelines for Neonates Exposed to HSV During Delivery [1/28/13] -

Guidance on Management of Asymptomatic Neonates Born to Women With Active Genital Herpes Lesions. [full text]
Pediatrics. 2013 Jan 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection of the neonate is uncommon, but genital herpes infections in adults are very common. Thus, although treating an infant with neonatal herpes is a relatively rare occurrence, managing infants potentially exposed to HSV at the time of delivery occurs more frequently. The risk of transmitting HSV to an infant during delivery is determined in part by the mother's previous immunity to HSV. Women with primary genital HSV infections who are shedding HSV at delivery are 10 to 30 times more likely to transmit the virus to their newborn infants than are women with recurrent HSV infection who are shedding virus at delivery. With the availability of commercial serological tests that reliably can distinguish type-specific HSV antibodies, it is now possible to determine the type of maternal infection and, thus, further refine management of infants delivered to women who have active genital HSV lesions. The management algorithm presented herein uses both serological and virological studies to determine the risk of HSV transmission to the neonate who is delivered to a mother with active herpetic genital lesions and tailors management accordingly. The algorithm does not address the approach to asymptomatic neonates delivered to women with a history of genital herpes but no active lesions at delivery.

Genital Herpes and Pregnancy: Preventing Neonatal Transmission (Archived Web Conference) CME/CE [Medscape registration is free]
Release Date: February 16, 2005; Valid for credit through February 16, 2006

Cesarean Section Appropriate in Women With Active Genital HSV [Medscape registration is free]

"Other risk factors for neonatal HSV were first-episode infection, isolation of HSV from the cervix, HSV-1 vs. HSV-2 isolation, invasive monitoring, delivery before 38 weeks, and maternal age younger than 21 years."

This means that women with a long-standing HSV infection not cultured from the cervix who carry to term are at lowest risk for passing on neonatal herpes to their baby, even with an active lesion.  However, it seems clear that suppression therapy is a big win for women with a history of herpes.

Suspected cases of neonatal herpes require prompt treatment
Antiviral treatment curtails virus and enhances normalcy at 1 year.

The acquisition of herpes simplex virus during pregnancy.
Brown ZA, Selke S, Zeh J, Kopelman J, Maslow A, Ashley RL, Watts DH, Berry S, Herd M, Corey L
N Engl J Med 1997 Aug 21;337(8):509-15

OBGYN.net - The Female Patient Article (Understanding Herpes Simplex Virus - Diagnosis, Transmission, Management)

The chance of asymptomatic shedding at any one time is about 2%, half of which occurs within 7 days of an outbreak. Young age and recent acquisition of genital herpes were identified as risk factors for asymptomatic shedding of HSV during pregnancy.

Neonates delivered vaginally during a recurrent episode have an infection risk of only 1% to 4%.  So the risk of infection for an asymptomatic woman is less than 0.02% to 0.08% on average, and even less than that for older women who did not acquire herpes recently.

CDC guidelines on herpes

HERPES AND PREGNANCY from herpes.com

Herpes Handout

Pharmaceutical Suppression Therapy

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acyclovir in late pregnancy for the reduction of herpes simplex virus shedding and cesarean delivery.
Watts DH, Brown ZA, Money D, Selke S, Huang ML, Sacks SL, Corey L.
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Mar;188(3):836-43.

CONCLUSION: Acyclovir significantly reduced, but did not eliminate, herpes simplex virus lesions and detection in late pregnancy.

[See Related Articles for most recent studies]

Hale, T. (1996) Medications and Mother's Milk, 5th ed.:
Acyclovir (Zovirax)
Approved by the AAP for use in breastfeeding mothers.....Percutaneous absorption following topical application indicates poor systemic absorption, with undetectable plasma levels....Acyclovir levels in breastmilk are reported to be 0.6 to 4.1 times the maternal plasma levels, Maximum ingested dose was calculated to be 1500 mcg/day assuming 750ml milk intake. This level produced no overt side effects in one infant. In another study, doses of 800 mg five times a day produced milk levels from 4.16 to 5.81 mg/L (total infant ingestion per day=0.73 mg/kg/day). .......Toxicities associated with acyclovir are few and usually minor.......Acyclovir therapy in neonates is common and produces few toxicities. Calculated intake by infant would be less than 1 mg/day.

The medication recommended here (zovirax) I need to tell all of you about. It works ok when taken orally in pill form but not in the cream form that you rub on a herpes outbreak. I was pretty shocked about this myself but my son works at a drug co. and this is the information they got. It was hush, hush like don't tell to many people ( hah like no one will be looking) but it truly doesn't work in that form and they keep making lots of money off of it. So for what it is worth don't use the cream!

I beg to differ. The study that I was in was with the cream only. I have used the cream and find it works really well. I don't know what source the pharmacists had but I have been using it for 15 years and think the cream is great.

Alternative Remedies for Herpes

Nutritional Supplements

A Complete Holistic Treatment Protocol for Herpes Viruses

Vitamin D supplementation supports the immune system and can help prevent a herpes outbreak.

Our local chiropractor/nutritionist says she's had great results in her practice using an herb from the Amazon called tayuya.  It will shorten outbreaks from a week to 2-3 days.  Many patients say if they take it at the first tingle it prevents the outbreak completely.  She carries it under the name DermH3.

Our local naturopath recommends:

* acupuncture to increase immunity (working to support remission with the liver divergent meridian; can also use carrot oil on Liver DM points)
* tinctures of echinacea, siberian ginseng and reishi mushroom combined 1-2 droppersful every 2 hours; vitamin C and zinc to body's tolerance; lots of fluids to flush the system
* frequent topical application of melissa essential oil (it is not cheap and not so easy to find, but very effective); diluted manuka or tea tree oil as a less ideal substitute.
* lemon balm (melissa) tea, also chamomile tea, hops, passionflower, st. john's wort...tension tamer. teas that calm the nerves. I've heard some people using chamomile tea bags topically too.
* taking a warm bath in any of the above herbs; also baking soda. essential oils are good in the bath for calmative and therapeutic effects.
* abstaining entirely from sugar, chocolate, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, hot/spicy food, anything processed
* avoiding sex, biking, and other topical irritants and avoiding all forms of stress which further antagonizes the nervous system
* lots of sleep and rest

I would recommend L-lysine 1500mg per day until symptoms are gone and then maintain 500mg per day.

The CNM who was my preceptor has shared the following guidelines re herpes with me: 1000 mg lysine every 2 hours plus 1000 mg vit C on day one of the outbreak, then 1000 mg twice a day till the sores are gone.

What about weaning from the acyclovir onto a maintenance dose of Lysine though? I have a friend that gets severe oral herpes that was pretty chronic with worsening during any stress. She now takes about 500 mg a day regularly and has had no further outbreaks in the past two years.

There is an excellent write up in Christine Northrup's book "Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom". Lots of alternatives to acyclovir: 1) Garlic - 12 tabs @ outbreak onset then 4 tabs q 4-6 hours; 4 tabs a day for prophylaxis 2) Vitamin C (1000mg) & Bioflavinoids QD 3) L Lysine 500mg TID.

Essential Oils

H-Away ( Herpes Outbreaks) has been shown in Medical Studies to inhibit the herpes viruses.

Antiherpes virus activity of extracts from the medicinal plant Geranium sanguineum L.
Serkedjieva J, Ivancheva S.
J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Jan;64(1):59-68.

It can therefore be concluded that quantitative proof exists in vivo that H-Away effectively and safely inhibits HSV2 (genital herpes).

Enhancement of anti-herpetic activity of antisense phosphorothioate oligonucleotides 5' end modified with geraniol.
Shoji Y, Ishige H, Tamura N, Iwatani W, Norimatsu M, Shimada J, Mizushima Y.
J Drug Target. 1998;5(4):261-73.

Conclusion: the anti-viral constituent geraniol in H-Away is able to penetrate into cell membranes to safely inactivate HSV1 (cold sores, fever blisters).

Herbal Formulas

A Natural Approach to Controlling Outbreaks - "Announcing a scientific breakthrough. It’s called EverCLR. It’s the only product that actively pursues the Herpes Simplex Virus, even when it retreats to the known cure for Herpes,” but EverCLR is very close. Ninety Four Percent of the people using EverCLR have never had another outbreak! That’s why we Guarantee it to work."  EverClr contains Burdock root, Ashwanganda root, Echinacea Ang. root, Echinacea Pur. root, Hydrangea root. [These herbs are generally considered safe during pregnancy.]

Cold Sore Relief™ (Formerly Herpilyn®) from Enzymatic Therapy contains lemon balm leaf extract.

Glycyrrhizinic Acid

Catalysis makes Herpigen Spray for genital herpes and Herpigen for cold sores (called labial use, meaning "the lips" of the mouth, not the vagina).

These products contain glycyrrhizinic acid, which has anti-ulcerous, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory induction, stopping viral growth (barrier effect).

Sulfate/Copper/St. John's Wort

Dynamiclear is a sulfate-based solution with copper as a trace metal and contains the herb St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum).


If you suffer from cold sores, then you'll be happy to know there are a variety of natural remedies for them. Try putting full-strength lavender oil or tea tree oil on a Q-tip and swabbing that on the cold sore. Undiluted lemon juice is also a favorite, or try 10 drops of eucalyptus or lemon oil diluted in 1/4-cup of a clear alcohol to dab on. If you don't have any of those oils, have a glass of wine and let the remaining drops in the bottom of the glass become a sticky residue. Then dab this on the cold sore. Sounds silly, I know, but the concentrated tannins left in the glass from the wine do the trick.

Safety of Vaginal Delivery in Women with Herpes

What happened to the research a few years ago that showed that infants of women with long term herpes were immune to herpes and that vaginal birth was safe, period?

Article in the Summer '95 Birth Gazette about the active herpes mode of delivery debate? It's in Medical Media Watch, on page 35 (Vol 11 No 3).

The US docs vetoed vag births. Here is an article from the Family Practitioner's Journal:
Physicians Continue to Disagree About Vaginal Delivery and Herpes

Covering Lesions During Vaginal Birth

I've met midwives who've done stuff with spray-on bandage coverings for the lesions. Worked fine.

In addition to the spray-on bandage, I've heard of nail polish used successfully to cover lesions.

The problem with nail polish/spray on bandage to cover herpes lesion is that there is frequently cervical shed of the virus in addition to the local lesion.


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