Sexual Health 101: All About Genital Herpes

By Eva

What is it?
Genital herpes inis one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S and it is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV; HSV-1 which can be found on the genitals and in the face or mouth, and HSV-2 which can be found around and on the genitals. Only two out of ten people who are infected with genital herpes know that they have it. That is because in most cases produces either no symptoms or very mild ones.

How do you get it?
HSV is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. This can happen even if the person with the virus do not have the symptoms or signs of infection. The virus will enter through the skin, and travel along nerve paths. It may become inactive in the nerves and remain there indefinitely. People with herpes are contagious to others before they notice that the outbreak occurs, so before the wound or blisters are visible until the rash is gone.

What are the symptoms?
First outbreak:
– Painful urination
– Itching, burning, pain and many blisters or sores in the abdomen.
– Swollen lymph nodes, which turns into painful lumps.
– Fever, headache, joints and muscle aches, and stiff neck.
Fortunately, not all first-time outbreaks get all these symptoms. First-time outbreak lasts approximately 3-4 weeks and goes over by itself. The pains can be so bad it may lead to hospitalization. Such an outbreak will happen only once, and it will never be so big or painful again.

Recurrent outbreaks:
– Blisters which eventually become a corporeal wound.
– Small, round wounds in groups.
– Swollen lymph nodes
– Soreness and itching where the HSV will appear
– Itching or tingling around your genitals or your anal region
– Small blisters that break open and cause painful sores. These may be on or around your genitals (penis or vagina) or on your buttocks, thighs, or rectal area. More rarely, blisters may occur inside the urethra — the tube urine passes through on its way out of your body.
– Flu-like symptoms, including fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue
– Backaches
Recurrent outbreaks will last around 5-7 days. The number of recurrences or outbreaks a person has may vary.

Treatment?
Herpes is a viral infection and therefore there is no treatment that cures it, but there are medications that effectively limit the frequency and extent of relapses. Antiviral medications may help to prevent or reduce the pain and discomfort from an outbreak. Medication can be taken on a daily basis to suppress the virus, and it can reduce the number of outbreaks and reduce the risk of infecting others.

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