Managing genital herpes infections in pregnancy

Womens Health (Lond). 2009 Mar;5(2):165-72; quiz 73-4. doi: 10.2217/17455057.5.2.165.


Genital herpes is the leading cause of genital ulcer disease worldwide and it is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Genital herpes simplex virus infection during pregnancy poses significant risks, predominantly vertical transmission of infection with resulting neonatal disease. While uncommon, neonatal infection has a high mortality rate and significant long-term morbidity. This article will examine the current recommendations for diagnosis using serologic and viral detection techniques. Treatment options for initial and recurrent genital herpes infection in pregnancy are reviewed. The use of prophylactic antivirals and cesarean delivery are discussed. The article concludes with a look to the future, including potential changes in the management of herpes simplex virus-infected pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cesarean Section
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis* / diagnosis
  • Herpes Genitalis* / epidemiology
  • Herpes Genitalis* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / virology


  • Antiviral Agents