Symptoms and Treatment
for Genital Herpes

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Most often, the virus is spread through sexual contact, including oral sex. However, mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth. While the virus can lay dormant in your body even after the initial infection, it can recur several times a year. Anyone can be infected, and the virus can be spread even when it’s dormant.

What are the symptoms of genital herpes?

Some individuals may not be aware they have genital herpes, because the virus can lay dormant for years — exhibiting little-to-no symptoms. However, genital herpes does cause sores, called outbreaks, usually within two to 12 days after being infected. These sores will appear in or around the area where the virus has entered your body — either on the genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. The sores eventually turn into itchy and painful blisters before they burst and heal. Most people with genital herpes will have outbreaks several times a year — most often in the first year of diagnosis. Even though outbreaks will occur less, and symptoms will become milder over time, the virus will remain in your body for life.

How does ID Care diagnose genital herpes?

ID Care physicians will diagnose whether or not you have herpes based on lab results from a swab sample or scraping of open sores. If you do not have an open sore, our team can administer a blood test to analyze whether or not the herpes virus is present in your body. Blood tests also give us the ability to detect a past herpes infection.

How does ID Care treat genital herpes?

Unfortunately, genital herpes does not have a cure. However, antiviral medication can help your body fight the virus, lessen symptoms, decrease outbreaks, and lower your risk of passing it on to others. ID Care specialists will most likely recommend that you only take your medications when you have symptoms of an outbreak, or that you take certain medications daily even if you don’t have outbreaks.

How can I avoid contracting herpes?

As with other sexually transmitted diseases, you can prevent herpes by using latex condoms correctly, though this does not eliminate your chances of catching or spreading herpes. Communication is the best way to prevent herpes, be sure to ask your partner whether or not they have herpes. If they are infected, avoid intercourse during an outbreak — although it’s important to remember that the virus can still be spread even if open sores are not present.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic