Important Facts About Using Valtrex During Pregnancy

Julie Kirk
Pregnant woman holding pills in hand

If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with the herpes virus, Valtrex is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for treatment. Valtrex will help provide relief of the various herpes virus symptoms and is considered safe for pregnant women.

Information on Valtrex

Valtrex, also known as valacyclovir, is a prescription antiviral medication that is taken to treat various herpes viral infections. The dosage and duration of treatment will depend on the type of infection and your medical condition. While Valtrex does not cure or kill the virus, it is effective in relieving the pain and itching of the sores, it decreases the severity and/or frequency of the outbreaks and it also helps the sores heal quicker.

What Valtrex Treats

It is commonly prescribed to treat:

  • Cold sores (herpes simplex or HSV-1)
  • Genital herpes (herpes simplex genitalis or HSV-2)
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Chicken pox (varicella zoster)

Valtrex and Pregnancy

Valtrex may be prescribed while you're pregnant if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes or if you have the occasional cold sore break out around your mouth due to fever, sun or stress. However, if you have genital herpes and are planning to try for pregnancy in the near future, it is best to first discuss this with your doctor so you are aware of any risks involved or potential treatments needed.

Is Valtrex Safe During Pregnancy?

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has rated Valtrex as a Pregnancy Category B. This means studies performed on animals showed no risks, however, there have been no controlled studies done on pregnant women. Therefore, this Pregnancy Category B drug is not expected to cause harm to a fetus.

Studies have also shown evidence that Valtrex (valacyclovir) is safe to use during pregnancy and is not associated with an increase in the rate of any major birth defects.

What Is Suppressive Treatment for Genital Herpes?

If you have recurrent genital herpes outbreaks and have an outbreak at the time of the delivery, you are at risk of spreading the herpes virus to your baby. Therefore, your doctor will likely recommend suppressive treatment for your genital herpes.

How Treatment Works

Typically, suppressive treatment will begin at 36 weeks gestational age. You will take 500mg of Valtrex (valacyclovir) by mouth twice a day. If you follow the directions of the suppressive treatment as recommended by your doctor, it can help decrease your chance of recurrent herpes lesions at the time of delivery. This will also reduce the risk of your baby contracting neonatal herpes virus infection.

Active Lesions and Delivery

However, if you have active genital herpes lesions at the time of delivery, you will likely need a cesarean section.

Valtrex and Breastfeeding

If you plan to breastfeed your baby, you should only take Valtrex under the advisement of your doctor. Valtrex can be passed to the baby through breast milk but it is typically trace amounts and the percentage is extremely low. Studies have shown that this medication poses minimal risk and there should be no adverse effects to the baby when breastfeeding.

Possible Side Effects of Valtrex

You may experience possible side effects from Valtrex. The most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Series Side Effects

More serious side effects can include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling sad
  • Loss of interest
  • Mood or mental changes
  • Shaky movements

Rare Allergic Reactions

Possible allergic reactions, although rare, may include:

  • Rash
  • Itching of face and throat
  • Swelling of face, throat, and tongue
  • Trouble breathing

Become Informed

Before taking any medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, you should always consult with your doctor. Your doctor will weigh the benefits and risks of these medications and help you make an informed decision. Learning about the drug itself and the possible side effects for both you and your developing baby can help ensure that you will have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.

Important Facts About Using Valtrex During Pregnancy