What Is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is a life-long condition. Symptoms of genital herpes usually manifest within 24 hours of transmission. Some people may not even experience any symptoms until a few weeks or even months after being infected. The first manifestation of symptoms is known as a primary infection. During this period, most people will experience painful blisters on the genitalia. These blisters may also manifest in the form of vesicles and contain clear or straw-colored fluid and HSV. Other regions where blisters can be found include the inner thighs, buttocks and anus. The presence of blisters in the urethra will cause painful urination. Apart from blisters, people may also experience flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen lymph nodes. The groin lymph nodes are mostly affected. Other symptoms include headache, malaise and nausea.
The blisters eventually break to release the fluid and viruses within them. Contact with this fluid may lead to the transmission of genital herpes. Within a week, the blisters heal and form a scab over the affected area of the skin. The virus then travels to the nerves that supply the area that was originally affected. Here it stays, without reproducing. When it is reactivated by some trigger factors, such as stress, it will travel back to the area where it first entered the body and cause blisters. You are most likely to experience a tingling or itching sensation a few days before blisters appear. This is known as an outbreak, or recurrent infection. Some people may have as many as six outbreaks in a year, while others may not even have a single outbreak. Exercising daily, consuming a healthy diet and avoiding both emotional and physical stress will reduce the number of outbreaks you experience per year. One good thing about the symptoms during an outbreak is that they are not as severe as those present during the primary infection. Antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir, which are used in the treatment of genital herpes, can be used daily to reduce not only the frequency but also the intensity of the outbursts.
Living With Herpes
Despite genital herpes being a life-long condition, it doesn’t mean that you cannot live your life to the fullest. Genital herpes is not associated with serious complications; in fact, some people may not experience no symptoms whatsoever. The biggest problem with herpes is the emotional stress that people experience once they are diagnosed. This is mostly due to the social stigma associated with genital herpes.
One thing that can improve your overall outlook on genital herpes is getting to know more about it. You can talk to your doctor or join a support group. These will help you accept and be more comfortable with living with herpes. One thing about support groups is that you will meet people who have the same condition as you and you will get to understand how to better manage your symptoms. You must also try to investigate which factors trigger outbreaks. Stress is usually the culprit for most people living with herpes. Try to avoid stress and any other factors that cause or intensify outbreaks as much as possible. You also have to find ways to provide better treatment for when symptoms recur. For rapid healing of blisters you should try to keep the skin as dry as possible. Wearing cotton underwear, for example, will absorb fluid and thus keep the skin dry. Another remedy you can try is honey. Applying honey to the skin will not only provide the dry conditions needed for rapid healing but will also prevent bacterial infection of the blisters once they crack open. Ask your doctor for more advice on what remedies you can try.
Another problem that you may face once diagnosed with herpes is how to tell your partner. Hiding genital herpes from your partner is out of the question. There is a possibility of your partner leaving you once he or she finds out, but it’s worth the risk. You and your partner can come up with ways that can prevent transmission. You can still have sex if you have genital herpes. However, it is better to have one sex partner in order to reduce passing it on to many people. Avoid all forms of sexual activities during an outbreak. Taking antiviral medications every day will greatly reduce the risk of you transmitting genital herpes to your partner.
If you have genital herpes and are planning to have a child, it is still possible to conceive naturally. You will, however, need close monitoring, especially in the last months of pregnancy. You doctor will evaluate you periodically to check for any symptoms, especially before delivering. If symptoms are present then you may be advised to undergo a cesarean section to prevent you from transmitting genital herpes to your child. Unlike in adults where herpes does not cause serious complications, neonatal herpes can cause serious complications such as brain damage and even death for infants.
While genital herpes can be treated, it cannot be cured. Researchers are still working on a cure for genital herpes.