Genital herpes usually produces symptoms that can cause recurrent painful genital ulcers in many adults, and it can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems. Regardless of the severity of symptoms, genital herpes frequently causes psychological distress among people who know they are infected.
In addition, genital herpes can cause potentially fatal infections in infants if the mother is shedding the virus at the time of delivery. It is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy, because a first episode during pregnancy creates a greater risk of transmission to the newborn. If a woman has active genital herpes at delivery, a cesarean-section delivery is usually performed. Fortunately, infection of an infant is rare among women with genital herpes.