Researchers have just found a way to make a staggering cut in the number of cesarean sections done for genital herpes at term. By having a woman take antivirals, like Valtrex, for a month prior to the 40th week of pregnancy the rate of herpes lesions was cut by 70%. This also showed a 70% reduction in the number of cesareans done for herpes at term.
The side effects of the medication are typically mild. They may include:
- nausea and vomiting
While it is possible to pass a genital herpes infection on to the baby without symptoms, none of the babies in either group tested positive for the infection in the month following birth. By reducing the number of cesareans done for this reason, these mothers and babies are also protected from the addition risks of cesarean section like newborn breathing difficulties at birth, NICU stays, maternal infections, etc.
Jeanne S. Sheffield et al. "Valacyclovir Prophylaxis to Prevent Recurrent Herpes at Delivery: A Randomized Clinical Trial." Obstet Gynecol 2006;108:141-7.