Genital herpes is one of today’s most common sexually transmitted diseases. The virus that causes this disease is called herpes simplex virus, which is also the same family of viruses that cause cold sores, shingles and chicken pox.
The herpes simplex type II virus is responsible for the cause of genital herpes, with the herpes simples type I virus responsible for cold sores on the nose and lip area. The herpes virus does not discriminate though and will happily live in the mucous membranes of mouth/lip area or the reproductive tract. For this reason, oral genital contact can spread both virus types. So in other words, viral transmission can occur from the genitals to the mouth or vice versa. The lesions caused by both viruses are virtually identical.
What are genital herpes symptoms? In some cases immediately following the initial infection the individual could have fever and body aches which are often typical of a viral infection. This is not always the case though. In some cases, the individual might not even know they are infected with the virus until there are lesions present in or around their genitals.
The occurrence of the outbreak is typical of the virus acting in the body. The virus will lay dormant within the body and there are no symptoms, which is then followed by an outbreak with blisters in the genital area. In some cases it can extend into the anal region. Genital blisters look and act similar to cold sores on or around your mouth area. Typically there is tingling, followed by growth, then it spreads and bursts leaving the sore that will heal slowly on its own.
Men experience sores in and on the penis and women experience blisters in and on the vagina and the surrounding areas.
Unfortunately the herpes virus is a life long virus, but the outbreaks will come and go. In fact the outbreaks will diminish over time with some cases resulting in no outbreaks at all.
Diagnosis of genital herpes should be done by a healthcare professional. People often are unaware they are affected until the first outbreak, and for others the symptoms are so mild they mistake it for a basic skin irritation. Diagnosis is usually done with an inspection of the infected area. In most cases a swab will taken of a blister to confirm the diagnosis.
Unfortunately there is no cure for herpes, but there are treatments that can aid in the control of the outbreaks. There are anti viral medicines available that are used to fight the initial infection and can also be used long term in cases that frequent outbreaks are happening. There are also common sense approaches to help with the discomfort of symptoms. Some of them are the use of loose clothing, using cold compresses, and the use of soothing creams or ointments on the blisters.
A healthy immune system is key in reducing frequency of outbreaks. You should avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and drug use as it is an immune system drain and can increase the likely-hood of outbreaks. A great defense against outbreaks is just good clean living, including quality food and exercising.
Genital herpes is typically not a life threatening disease, particularly for those with healthy immune systems. However, an over taxed immune system makes outbreaks more likely, which often occur during physical or emotional stress. With the presence of HIV, cancer or other immune system suppressers the virus does become more dangerous.
Should the virus be transmitted to other areas like the eyes or brain the complications can be severe. The direct transmission can happen in a number of ways, but most commonly occurs during the birthing process where unfortunately the baby can become infected from contact with the infected mothers vagina.
If there is a possibility you have contracted the virus, it is essential that you make arrangements to visit your doctor. Safe sex should always be practiced with condoms, including oral sex. You should always take steps to inform your partner about your situation as it would be wreckless for you to transmit genital herpes.