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HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection of the genital tract that is caused by a specific virus. It can infect the genitals themselves or the surrounding skin and mucus membranes. It is caused by one of two viruses: herpes simplex type I and herpes simplex type 2. The most common cause of genital herpes is herpes simplex type 2, which can be spread via the mouth or the genitals. Herpes simplex type I has been associated with oral cold sores but is now a cause of genital herpes as well. Oral sex can transfer herpes simplex type I from the mouth to the genital tract.

Herpes simplex is spread from an infected person to another during sexual contact. It can happen when you come in contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or skin of an infected person. Herpes is most transmissible when the sores or blisters are visible and actively shedding the virus. You can also have shedding of the virus when the infected person has no visible lesions on their skin or mucus membranes. This means that a condom or dental dam should be used at all times with an infected person to prevent herpes from spreading. A sexual partner is always at risk of developing the infection unless proper protection is undertaken at all times.

About one out of every four women is infected with herpes simplex virus type 2. The same is true in one out of eight men.

The symptoms of herpes simplex virus may be mild or severe. It is usually the first outbreak that yields the greatest amount of symptoms. There can be localized symptoms or generalized symptoms or both. The generalized symptoms include a poor appetite, malaise or feeling poorly, muscle aches in the back or lower extremities, and fever. The local symptoms include painful, yet tiny blisters on the labia, vagina, cervix, or around the anus of the female. Both men and women can have blisters on the upper thigh or buttocks. In men, you can get lesions of the scrotum, penis, around the anus and on the thighs or buttocks. In both genders, you can get blisters on the tongue, eyes, mouth, fingers, gums, or lips. The blisters are often preceded by tingling, itching, burning, or pain in the affected area. Blisters break and heal over seven to fourteen days.

Other symptoms include having enlarged or tender lymph nodes in the groin. Urination is painful and women can have vaginal discharge that is clear or cloudy in nature. You can get a second outbreak within a week or after several months. The second outbreak is less severe and is usually shorter in duration. The number of outbreaks tends to decrease over time. The virus hides in the nerve cells and comes out with the various outbreaks.

Things that trigger a flare up of a herpes infection include genital irritation, tiredness, having your period, emotional or physical stress, or some kind of trauma.

There are tests for genital herpes. You can take a cotton swab and get some of the blister fluid off the lesion. The fluid can be cultured for herpes viruses. It takes about 2-3 days to get some results from viral cultures. A PCR test on the fluid can show DNA suspicious for herpes simplex virus. Blood tests can be done to evaluate the blood for antibodies. The test may be positive even if a person hasn't had a lesion yet.

Treatment for genital herpes includes antiviral medication to shorten the degree of the disease process. Pain medications are used to reduce the pain of the infection. Patients can start taking the antiviral medication at the time of the very first symptoms so as to fend off an infection. Daily medication can be taken to stop outbreaks from occurring or to at least limit the number of outbreaks per year. Pregnant women can take antiviral medication to stop shedding before the baby is born. If this isn't done, a Caesarean section may need to be performed.

Side effects from the medications to control herpes include headache, fatigue, rash, nausea or vomiting, tremor, or seizures. You shouldn't wear nylon or synthetic pantyhose, pants or underwear. Loose fitting cotton garments are the best choice. If you have pain, you need to take warm baths every day to keep the blisters clean and dry.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Genital Herpes solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Genital Herpes solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here