What Is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is a viral infection that can be spread through close contact, most often during sexual activity. It affects one in five adults in the United States — about 45 million people. It is more common in women than in men. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
How does the Genital Herpes infection occur?
The herpes virus can pass through a break in your skin during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can enter the moist membranes of the penis, vagina, urinary opening, cervix, or anus. Once the virus gets into your body, it infects healthy cells. Your body’s natural defense system then begins to fight the virus. This causes sores, blisters, and swelling.
What are symptoms of Genital Herpes?
Many people infected with herpes have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they vary with each person. Some people have painful attacks with many sores. Others have only mild symptoms.
See your doctor right away if you have symptoms of genital herpes.
How is Genital Herpes diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose herpes using one or more tests to detect infection. The most accurate way is to obtain a sample from the sore and see if the virus grows in a special fluid.
What is the treatment for Genital Herpes?
There is no cure for genital herpes. There are, however, oral medications to help control the course of the disease. Medication can shorten the length of an outbreak and help reduce discomfort.
How do I avoid recurrence?
Although herpes sores heal in days or weeks, herpes does not leave your body. The virus travels to nerve cells near your spine. It stays there until some event triggers a new bout. No one is sure why some people have recurrences of herpes.
About 90% of people with herpes have repeat outbreaks. How often these outbreaks occur varies greatly from person to person.
How can I prevent Genital Herpes?
If you or your partner have oral or genital herpes, avoid sex from the time of prodromal symptoms until a few days after the scabs have gone away.
Using a condom may reduce your risk of passing or getting genital herpes, but does not protect against all cases.
How does Genital Herpes effect pregnancy?
If you are pregnant and have herpes, tell your doctor. During pregnancy, there are increased risks to the baby, especially if it is the mother’s first outbreak.
Herpes affects millions of people in the United States. It can be a source of concern and discomfort. Simple measures can ease the symptoms of herpes, and medication can promote healing. Over time, most people with herpes find ways to cope with the disease.