What is it
Genital herpes is a viral infection of the genitals that’s transmitted through vaginal intercourse as well as through oral or anal sex. An estimated 45million people in the United States are infected with the virus. Once a person is infected, the virus establishes itself permanently in the nerve cells, staying dormant for months or years.
Many people who become infected are asymptomatic. In about one-third of those who develop clinical indications, enduring decrease occurs after the initial attack, most probable due to the capability of the body’s immune system to contain the virus. The remaining two-thirds of people with symptoms will undergo added eruptions at irregular intervals. The first outbreak, which can last from one to three weeks, is commonly the most severe. The following outbreaks become less severe over time.
Genital herpes is extremely transmittable, and spread can occur with or without the presence of visible sores. In most cases the virus is more easily transmitted from male to female partners. Pregnant mothers must be especially careful since herpes is readily transmitted during childbirth and can result in severe health problems for the baby.
- Within 21 days after infection, flulike symptoms muscle aches, swollen glands, fever, and sometimes shooting pains in the legs or abdomen.
- Painful blisters and sores on genitals, occasionally accompanied by blisters and sores around the mouth.
- In women, painful urination.
Symptoms subside without treatment, but sores recur at unpredictable intervals in about two-thirds of the cases.
What causes it
Most common reason of genital herpes is actually the herpes simplex Type 2 virus. Another possible cause is the herpes simplex Type 1 virus, the same virus that causes cold sores. Both viruses can infect either area, causing roughly the same symptoms. Both viruses are transferred through direct interaction, including kissing, skin-to-skin contact as well as sexual contact (vaginal, anal or oral sex).
After remission, herpes may recur again and again. The triggers for subsequent outbreaks are not clearly understood, but may include sexual intercourse, sunlight, stress, fatigue, and extremes of heat and cold. People with a weakened immune system (including those with AIDS) are at risk for severe outbreaks of genital herpes.
What if you do nothing
Genital herpes is incurable; once you are infected, the virus remains dormant in your body and symptoms may reappear. The level of discomfort will vary from person to person, but symptoms can be lessened with treatment. If you have recurring herpes, desist from sexual contact, since you are certainly transmittable during this period.
Although genital herpes cannot be cured, the following measures can be taken to help lessen the discomfort. (However, when symptoms occur, be sure to contact your doctor for evaluation and diagnosis.)
Relieve the pain
Take over-the-counter pain relievers either NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen) or acetaminophen, according to label directions. Also, frequent warm baths and warm compresses may bring temporary relief.
Avoid discomfort during urination
To prevent urine from irritating any vaginal sores, women can urinate in the shower or through a tube, such as a toilet-paper roll.
Avoid tight-fitting garments
Snug underwear and pants may irritate the genitals.
Be careful about sexual contact
If either partner has a blister or sore, avoid sexual inter- course. Abstain from oral sex if you or your partner has a cold sore on the mouth.
Use a condom
If either sex partner has inactive genital herpes, use a latex condom during intercourse. Remember, though, that a condom may not cover all infected areas.
If you are infected and pregnant
Tell your physician, so precautions can be taken to prevent passing the virus to the baby. You can be monitored for a herpes outbreak during your pregnancy and at the time of delivery, if necessary, undergo a cesarian section to prevent the baby from being infected during delivery through an infected birth canal.