Genital herpes is a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Herpes is one of the more common types STIs and the majority of genital herpes cases are from the HSV-2 infection. Genital herpes is most often transmitted through sexual acts or sexual intercourse, though it can also be contracted in other ways. The following will provide an overview of genital herpes.
Causes of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes comes from the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which can be spread through any type of sexual contact. The most common types of genital herpes is from the HSV-2 virus which is mostly spread through the secretions in the genitals or mouth. There is another type from the HSV-1 virus though this one usually affects the mouth and lips causing fever blisters or cold sores. It can also be spread from the mouth to the genitals with contact. Touching the skin of someone with herpes sores or blisters can give you the disease, however it can also be spread without sores present. These infections are more common in women than men.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
A wide range of symptoms are experienced by someone with genital herpes though some people may not experience any symptoms at all. The first outbreak of symptoms usually occurs within 2 days to 2 weeks of getting the infection. The most common symptoms of genital herpes include a decreased appetite, fever, an overall sick feeling, muscle aches, and swollen or tender lymph nodes in the groin. Your genitals may also get small blisters that are painful and filled with a clear fluid. In women, they can occur on the vaginal lips, vagina, anus, thigh, buttocks, or cervix and in men they can be on the scrotum, penis, anus, thighs or buttocks. In both genders, they may also be on the lips, fingers, tongue, mouth, eyes, or gums. Other symptoms include painful urination and vaginal discharge for women.
Diagnosing Genital Herpes
A variety of tests can be performed to look for genital herpes. This includes a PCR, a culture of the fluid coming from your open sore or blister, or a blood test to look for the antibody levels of the herpes virus. Usually something as simple as a physical examination can determine whether or not you have genital herpes.
Treating Genital Herpes
While there is no cure for genital herpes, there are ways to treat it and ease some of your discomfort. This includes taking an antiviral medication that will reduce the outbreak and relieve some of the pain from your blisters or sores. Keep in mind medications can cause side effects including headache, fatigue, nausea, rash, tremors, or seizures.