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Herpes and Semen

Published: 5 Август 2002 г.
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Does the herpes virus exist on the male semen? If so, what about if after having sex the female becomes pregnant, what happens to the baby? Will he live a normal life once he's born? Will the virus be present on the baby for the rest of his life also? What about the mother, will her pregnancy be tougher?
Signed: Herpes and Semen

Dear Herpes and Semen,

Herpes does not exist in male semen. It is a viral infection spread through direct skin-to-skin contact and sexual contact (oral, anal or vaginal). The initial outbreak of herpes usually occurs within two weeks of the initial infection and can last up to four weeks. In the initial outbreak stage of Herpes, an infected person usually gets sores or blisters in the genital area, and this can be extremely painful. Some other symptoms of herpes are flu-like symptoms, fatigue, fever or swollen glands. The virus does remain in the body for the person's entire life.

 

Women are advised to abstain from sexual contact until lesions are completely healed. If a woman does become pregnant, she can transmit herpes to her baby in two ways:

  • When her water breaks right before she gives birth, the virus can ascend up into the uterus and infect the baby
  • During vaginal delivery, when the baby comes in contact with infectious genital secretions. A caesarean delivery is usually performed to avoid the second outcome.

Each year in the United States, about 1,000 babies are born with the herpes virus. Symptoms of infection usually occur within 2-3 days of birth, and the disease progresses rapidly. The baby may experience mental retardation, blindness, muscle spasticity and learning disabilities and possibly death.

There is no cure for Herpes, but there are treatments that can shorten and prevent future outbreaks, and help to relieve the pain. After the initial outbreak, Herpes can go into a sleeping mode or dormant stage in the body. This is a time when the infected person may have absolutely no symptoms and no sores, but they still can transmit the virus to other people and have other outbreaks throughout their life. There is no proven way to prevent the transmission of the herpes virus to an unborn baby.

 

FX has answered several other questions regarding the Herpes virus. For more information, you should check out What's Herpes, Diagnosed with Herpes, and I Have Herpes.

 

Only a medical professional can diagnose and prescribe medication to help a person with Herpes. If you are worried that you, or anyone you know, has Herpes or any other STD, please contact your local teen health center. If you live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health in Morristown, New Jersey at 973-971-6475.

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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