Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can cause sores on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. people who develop genital herpes sores are at higher risk of contracting HIV despite successful treatment of the lesions. Here are some info about causes, symptoms, diagnosis, medications & more of genital herpes you should know.
What is herpes?
Two types of herpes simplex virus cause genital herpes:
- HSV-1 (which usually causes cold sores).
- HSV-2 (which usually causes genital herpes).
Most forms of genital herpes are HSV-2. But a person with HSV-1 (the type of virus that causes cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth) can transmit the virus through oral sex to another person’s genitals.If HSV-2 spreads to the mouth or lips during oral sex, it is still HSV-2.
How do you get genital herpes?
You can get genital herpes from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it. The virus can spread even when sores are not present. It also is possible to get genital herpes in the mouth, tongue, lips and other parts of thbody. However, this is quite rare and it usually occurs when blisters are present during intercourse. And mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
Most people don’t experience symptoms when first infected and they can take months or years to develop. If symptoms do occur when first infected, they usually develop in four to seven days. Symptoms are normally more severe the first time than in re-occurring infections.
Someone with genital herpes may first notice itching or pain, followed by sores that appear a few hours to a few days later. The sores, which may appear on the vagina, penis, scrotum, buttocks, or anus, start out as red bumps that soon turn into red, watery blisters. The sores might make it very painful to urinate (pee). The sores may open up, ooze fluid, or bleed; during a first herpes outbreak, they can take from a week to several weeks to heal. The entire genital area may feel very tender or painful, and the person may have flu-like symptoms (such as fever; a headache; and tender, swollen lymph nodes in the groin area).
If future outbreaks happen, they tend to be less severe and don’t last as long, with sores healing faster.
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
Your doctor usually can diagnose genital herpes based on a physical exam and the results of certain laboratory tests:
- Viral culture. This test involves taking a tissue sample or scraping of the sores for examination in the laboratory.
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. PCR is used to copy your DNA from a sample of your blood, tissue from a sore or spinal fluid. The DNA can then be tested to establish the presence of HSV and determine which type of HSV you have.
- Blood test. This test analyzes a sample of your blood for the presence of HSV antibodies to detect a past herpes infection.
How can genital herpes be treated?
There’s no cure for genital herpes.Your doctor may recommend that you take the medicine only when you have symptoms of an outbreak or that you take a certain medication daily, even when you have no signs of an outbreak. Examples of these antiviral medications include: