Genital herpes is real. It is something that one in every six people aged 14 to 49 years old have in America. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 776,000 people contract new infections of herpes each year. Even though many have this disease, it has remained something worth being afraid of. The lack of education and information about the disease continued to sow fear among people especially those who are at risk. To learn more about it here are some answers to the questions that most people are afraid to ask.
What is herpes?
Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of this virus. The first type commonly causes the genital herpes while the second type is the one that causes the “fever blisters”. The problem with herpes is that most infected persons don’t know that they have the virus. Often, it would take as much as four weeks before the blisters would heal. Recurrence of the infection appears several months later often less severe than the first outbreak of infection. The herpes infection will stay in the body forever and thus causing it to be transmitted through sexual intercourse.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are case dependent and may vary from one case to another. Most people that are infected are mostly unaware if they have the virus. Genital herpes can be severe to people with impaired or weak immune systems like those afflicted with HIV. Symptoms usually appear as blisters around the genitals and near the rectum. In time, blisters break and leave tender sores. This may cause great discomfort, itchiness and sometimes stress and anxiety to people who are suffering.
What are the complications?
Most often the blisters are painful and may cause great discomfort. A person with genital herpes sore could infect other parts of the body like sensitive parts such as the eyes by touching the blisters and transfer the virus. People with herpes have higher risks of getting HIV. Pregnant women with herpes increase the chances of having babies with brain damage or increasing the likelihood of infant or fetal mortality. Pregnant women with genital herpes also have higher risks of having a miscarriage. It is very important that women do not contract herpes during the entire pregnancy. More often antiviral medication is administered from 36 weeks of gestation until the woman gives birth. It is also possible that a caesarean section will be performed.
What are the treatments?
Currently, since herpes is a virus, there is no treatment or cure available. Antiviral medications and boosting the immune system can make the infections less painful and severe. The medications can also help shorten the duration of the infection. Suppressive therapy is used to prevent transmission of the virus to partners. It is important that a person infected will follow all the doctor’s orders and finish all the prescribed medications. Finish the medicines even if the symptoms are gone.
What are the ways to avoid it?
The use of latex condom reduces the risk of genital herpes. Most of the blisters occur in the genital parts which are often covered by the condom. But, some blisters can occur outside the protective areas of the condom. Monogamous relationships and abstinence from sexual contact are the most effective ways to prevent herpes infection. A person that does not exhibit any symptoms could still spread the virus. Sexual partners should always use condoms when they are unsure about their infection status. Partners can determine their infection though testing for HSV.
What to do if my partner has it?
It is important to get tested. Ask your partner to get suppressive therapy to lower the risk of infecting others. Use condoms and if both of you can, abstain from sex at least until the sores are gone.
The World Health Organization said that around 500 million people worldwide or about 16 percent of the world’s population in the 15 to 49-year-old age group are affected. Medically, herpes is not a big deal. It is more of a discomfort rather than life threatening. It is a social nuisance than a serious medical problem. People may feel anxiety and stress over contracting this disease. Then again, herpes should not cause great panic but should never be underestimated.
About the Author:
Ryan Rivera writes about many health issues that cause anxiety and stress among many people. You may check out his Calm Clinic Twitter account for more tips on conquering anxiety over any health-related problems.