Things You Want To Know (but You’re Afraid To Ask)

About Herpes

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.

Treatment of genital herpes

As soon as a person notices that the herpes blisters have disappeared he or she may think that the virus is gone away — but the virus is in fact hiding inside the body. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus remains hidden in the body till the next genital herpes outbreak. In the recurrent (repeated) genital herpes outbreaks the virus reactivates itself and the sores appear again.

From time to time, the Genital Herpes virus keeps on reactivating itself again and again. This reoccurrence of the herpes virus causes discomfort and episodes of sores each time. Generally a person may experience almost 4 to 5 outbreaks of herpes every year — but in some of the cases the frequency of the herpes outbreaks decreases over time.

Genital herpes also increases the risk of HIV infection. This is due to the fact that if there’s a slit in the skin (such as a sore) then HIV virus can make their way into the body more easily during unprotected sexual intercourse. Additionally if a pregnant woman is infected with genital herpes then the newborn baby is at great risk of getting herpes. She may infect the newborn baby during delivery. A newborn baby might get meningitis (a swelling of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord), seizures, and brain damage due to Herpes infection.

As of now no cure for herpes has been found or invented. Once a person is infected, the herpes virus will always reside in the human body. There is always the risk of infection transmission to other persons by any means of unprotected sexual contact. It doesn’t matter whether the blisters are present or not in the genital area. Many cases of genital herpes infection transmission occur when the symptoms are not present.

As it is said that Prevention is better than cure, the best way to get rid of Genital herpes is prevention. The only reliable method of preventing genital herpes is abstinence from sex. Teens involved in sexual activity should properly use a latex condom every time they are engaged in any form of sexual contact whether vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Girls should ask their partners to use dental dams as protection while receiving oral sex. Dental dams are thin sheets of latex and can be purchased online or from many pharmacies.

Though there is no treatment available which can cure herpes, but there are antiviral medications available which can shorten and prevent outbreaks, at least for the period of time the person is on the medications. Additionally, daily suppressive treatment for symptomatic herpes can diminish the transmission to partners.

Diagnosis of genital herpes

The signs and symptoms of both HSV-2 and HSV-1 i.e. type-2 and type-1 virus of genital can vary greatly. Usually HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses can be found in the sores that the viruses’ causes and it is also spread from the sores. Though they also happen to spread from the skin that doesn’t appear to have a sore. Normally an individual is infected with type-2 herpes infection during sexual intercourse with somebody who already has a genital HSV-2 herpes infection. The infection may spread from an infected partner who doesn’t have a discernible sore. The infected individual may not even know that he or she is infected with herpes.

The type-1 genital herpes virus more commonly causes infections of the mouth and lips, called as “fever blisters”. Oral-genital or genital-genital contact with a person who is infected with HSV-1 infection can cause HSV-1 herpes infection. Recurrent outbreaks of HSV-1 genital herpes are less frequent than HSV-2 herpes outbreaks.

An individual infected with genital herpes might notice itching or pain followed by sores appearing after a few hours to a few days. The sores may appear on the privates such as the vagina, penis, scrotum, buttocks, or anus. The sores start out as red bumps and soon turn into red and watery blisters. Due to the sores it may be quite painful to urinate. The sores may burst, drip fluid or bleed. The sores will heal within the next two to four weeks.

The entire genital region may feel very sore or painful. The patient may experience flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes. In case of repeated outbreaks it tends to be less severe and of shorter duration and the sores heal in almost 10 days.

Genital Herpes can be usually diagnosed by its signs and symptoms. But it can only be confirmed after doing certain tests. The signs and symptoms of HSV-2 Herpes infection differ greatly from Type-1 herpes infection. Health care service providers perform the diagnosis of both the HSV-1 and HSV-2 genital herpes infection by inspecting visually. They look for the infection whether the outbreak is typical. They take a sample from the sores and test it in the laboratory. Usually the diagnosis of genital herpes infection between outbreaks is done by blood tests. Blood tests can be quite helpful in the diagnosis of genital herpes. Blood tests detect antibodies to HSV-1 or HSV-2 herpes infection. Though blood tests are helpful but the results are not always clear-cut.

Symptoms of genital herpes

Most people infected with Genital herpes are unaware of their infection. Though, if signs and symptoms occur during the first outbreak, they can be quite distinguished. Some people experience very mild genital herpes symptoms while some others may not show any symptoms at all. Still, for many people the first outbreak of the disease is often the worst, and the symptoms of genital herpes can be very painful.

The main signs of genital herpes are sores around privates such as the vagina, on the penis, or near the anus. Sometimes genital herpes sores appear on the scrotum, buttocks, or thighs. The first outbreak of genital herpes generally occurs within the two weeks since the virus is spread. The sores may appear typically 4 to 7 days after infection. They typically appear as a rash of red bumps. The bumps later on turn into blisters. It is normal for the blisters to burst, sometimes causing terrible pain. The sores usually tend to scab over and heal in about 2 to 4 weeks. The first outbreak of genital herpes generally lasts 10 to 20 days till the sores are completely healed.
During the primary episode, other signs and symptoms may include a second outbreak of sores. Genital herpes may also show flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. Still most of the people with HSV-2 infection of genital herpes may have no sores at all. Sometimes they may have very mild signs that they don’t even notice or they mistake them for insect bites or another skin condition.

An individual can expect several (about four or five) outbreaks (symptomatic recurrences) of within a year if he or she is diagnosed with first episode of genital herpes. Gradually these recurrences typically lessen in occurrence. A person can possibly become aware of the “first episode” years after the disease is acquired.

Many individual can show some other symptoms of genital herpes during the first outbreak. The other signs and symptoms include:

  • Swollen glands in the groin
  • Discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache

Generally during the first outbreak of genital herpes more women report severe herpes symptoms than men.

In most of the adults, Genital herpes can cause frequent painful genital sores. Genital herpes infection can be severe in individuals with weak immune systems. In spite of severity of symptoms, genital herpes regularly causes mental distress in individuals who know they are infected.

Genital herpes: type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2) herpes simplex viruses

Genital herpes is one of most infamous sexually transmitted disease (STD). Genital herpes is caused by type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2) herpes simplex viruses. In most of cases of genital herpes the virus HSV-2 is responsible. But a person infected with HSV-1 virus (the type of virus that causes cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth) can also spread the virus during oral sex to another person’s privates.

In several cases of herpes the patient show no signs or symptoms or shows only minimal signs or symptoms of HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. When signs of the infection occur, they usually occur as one or more blisters on or in the genital region or rectum. When the blisters burst they leave tender ulcers (sores). These ulcers take 2 to 4 weeks to heal the first time they appear. Apparently, another outbreak can occur weeks or months after the first, but it’s about always is less harsh and has shorter span than the first outbreak. Though the infection may reside in the body for indefinite time, over a period of years the frequency of the disease tends to fall.

According to a nationally representative study results in the United States genital herpes infection is quite common. Countrywide at the least forty five million people of age 12 and older are suffering from genital herpes. Moreover one out of every five adolescents and adults has had genital herpes infection. However since the past decade, the rate of genital herpes infection in the Americans has decreased in the U.S.

HSV-2 infection or type 2 herpes infection is more common in women than in men. Just about one out of four women suffer from it while almost one out of eight men gets infected with herpes. It might be due to the fact male-to-female transmission is more likely than female-to-male transmission.