Genital herpes is a chronic, lifelong viral infection. A great number of people have this virus, but there are even more people who have no symptoms.
This disease, currently expanding, is caused by a virus, Herpes simplex. It is transmitted during intercourse and indirect contamination, for instance through the toilet seat is a rare issue.
The Herpes, be it oral or genital, is never cured. During the first infection, the virus enters the organism, which it never leaves afterward. Once the inflammatory stage is over, the virus will go to the closest ganglions, and will stay there, until under the effect of fatigue, physical or psychic stress, or around menstruation, the virus becomes active and manifests its virulent form again. Consequently, Herpes will have outbursts during the entire life.
The disease is contagious during its inflammatory period, when you should avoid any sexual contact, as the condom is in this case insufficient protection.
HOW DOES THE GENITAL HERPES MANIFEST?
Symptoms vary from one person to another. Most people have no noticeable symptoms. Those who do will probably notice them in 2 to 20 days after sexual intercourse with an infected person. Manifested symptoms include:
- burning sensation in the genitals
- lower back pain
- pain when urinating
- flu-like symptoms
A few days later, some small red bumps may appear in the genital area and they will develop into painful blisters, which then crust over, form a scab, and heal. Usually a week after the outburst they scar and leave to traces.
HOW DO WE GET TESTED?
The diagnosis can be made by physical examination. The doctor will collect a small amount of fluid from the sores and then he will send it to a lab to check if the herpes virus is present. You may receive the results in up to two weeks. Testing for genital herpes may be difficult in the absence of sores.
HOW DO WE TREAT GENITAL HERPES?
Although herpes is a chronic, lifelong viral infection, you can treat the manifestations of it, i.e. the outbreaks of blisters. The treatment of the outbreaks, especially when started early, shortens their duration and reduces the symptoms.
The drugs used are acyclovir and, more recently, famcyclovir and valacyclovir. There are some antiviral tablets, to be administered five times a day, and also some unguents to soothe the blistered area.
HOW DO WE PREVENT GENITAL HERPES?
One can get and spread herpes through oral, anal, and/or vaginal sex. Preventing herpes means approaching sexual relationships responsibly and this,ultimately, means preventing any STD: limiting the number of one’s sex partners, using condoms, and avoiding any sexual contact if one suspects being infected. One should also visit a local STD clinic, hospital, or doctor. Be sure your partner is treated to avoid becoming reinfected.
Keep in mind that many genital herpes infections are spread by people with no noticeable signs. You also can get or spread the herpes virus from kissing, touching, and caressing infected areas.
In cases where people have more than six outbreaks a year, preventative (prophylactic) suppressive therapy is recommended and available.