Healthy Living

What is Genital Herpes? Get the Facts

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Key Takeaways

  • Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that occurs in 1 out of 6 adults in the United States. 
  • Genital herpes is transmitted through direct contact especially through sexual activities. 
  • Genital herpes is a life-long condition. 

What is Genital Herpes? How can one identify it? What are its symptoms? Can it be treated? And if it can be treated, then how? And if not, what does one have to do? Is getting genital herpes the end of life. And since prevention is better than cure, we will also look at the ways through which you can avoid or lessen the chances of this infection. Join us today as we take you through a comprehensive study of Genital Herpes, including answering the above questions. Remember, information is power.

What is genital herpes?

Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Characterized by small painful sores, the disease can affect the vagina, urethra, anus, the rectum and some other parts. This infection is mainly in the United States of America, occurring in 1 out of 6 adults. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2) in most cases. However, HSV1, a causative agent of cold sores, has also been shown to cause genital herpes. As its name suggests, it affects the genitals. Most people with genital herpes may not experience any symptoms as they may not appear until after a few weeks or months after infection, posing a great risk of infection for those who are sexually active, as they may have sex with people who have this infection without knowledge of the infection. So is abstinence for the unmarried or faithfulness to one partner for the married the way to go? Perhaps it is. Women, people with weak immune systems and people who have multiple sex partners have an increased risk of acquiring genital herpes.

In women, this is an infection that may lead to cervicitis, which is inflammation of the cervix. Blistering lesions normally appear on the vulva and vaginal opening. The latter may lead to the formation of ulcer. Pain during urination is one indication that a woman is suffering from Genital Herpes. This is due to the sores that occur even in the Urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body during its elimination from the body.

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Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Symptoms of genital herpes include:

  • Blisters or sores that usually occur on the genitals. They may also appear on the thighs, buttocks and rectum. Some women may also have blisters on cervix.
  • Painful urination due to the presence of blisters, sores or ulcers in the urethra.
  • Flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes and fever.
  • General weakness.
  • A discharge from the vagina in women.

Transmission

How is Genital Herpes transmitted from one person to another? Genital herpes is transmitted through direct contact especially through sexual activities. HSV2 is mostly transmitted through anal and vaginal sex while HSV1 can be transmitted through oral sex. Touching the sores of a person with genital herpes may lead to transmission of HSV.

Genital herpes is a life-long condition. That means if you acquire it, you will be with it till may be the return of Jesus Christ or even earlier if you will not be lucky to see Him come for the second time. The virus usually lives in nerves of the spinal root after a primary infection and an outbreak may occur if the virus is reactivated. Reactivation of HSV2 leads to recurrence of symptoms. During this period HSV travels from the spinal root to the area of the skin that is supplied by the particular spinal root. The good thing is that symptoms during an outburst are less severe as those present during a primary infection. With time people usually experience fewer outbursts as compared to when they just got infected. Most people will experience a burning, tingling or itching sensation a few days before an outbreak occurs.

Factors that may increase the risk of an outbreak

Factors that may increase the risk of an outbreak include:

  1. Stress
  2. A weakened immune system
  3. Poor nutrition
  4. Having another illness
  5. Menstruation
  6. Ultraviolet radiation

The symptoms of herpes may be similar to those of other illnesses such as bacterial or yeast infection. Therefore, identifying HSV2, and sometimes HSV1 is very important during diagnosis of genital herpes.

Methods for diagnosis for Genital Herpes

Methods of diagnosis used for genital herpes include:

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test
  • Antibody test
  • Cell culture test

Treatment for Genital Herpes

Currently there is no known cure for genital herpes. However, there are several treatments that can relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency and intensity of outbreaks. Treatments for herpes include using antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, which prevent the virus from further replication. Antiviral drugs also reduce the risk of transmitting it to other people (sexual partners). These drugs can be taken either during an outbreak or on a daily basis. The major advantage of taking antiviral medications on a daily basis is that it reduces the frequency of outbreaks that someone with genital herpes experiences per year.

Pregnant women who have genital herpes must be closely monitored. A cesarean section will be recommended if a woman experiences any symptoms of genital herpes during labor. This reduces the risk of the child having neonatal herpes, a condition that can cause serious complications such as brain damage.

Preventive measures against spreading or acquiring Genital Herpes

Abstaining from sex or limiting the number of sex partners can help to limit the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes. The form of sex referred here is of any type that involves contact with the genitals, be it vaginal, anal or oral. Other preventive measures include using latex condoms of course in the right way, avoiding sex during outbreaks and taking antiviral drugs on a daily basis. These, however, do not provide complete protection from acquiring genital herpes.

So is there a way to completely keep yourself safe from Genital Herpes? The good news is that there is a way. Abstinence from sex is one of the ways to keep yourself safe from this infection. For the married, sticking to the one partner that you have is important. The partner should however not be having the infection, which calls for faithfulness from all partners. That should be the same for those in relationships and play sex. You do not want to suffer from this infection and therefore sacrifice is the way for the sexually active and the rest as stated above. Remember, prevention has ever been, is, and will remain to be better than cure.