How To Understand Genital Herpes

Statistics show that genital herpes (historically termed the Elsberg syndrome) is the second most widely-spread sexually-transmitted diseases today. It is next to herpes simplex in terms of the number of the infected, although both are caused by the same types of viruses. Genital herpes is most commonly caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2) although the other type, HSV1 appears to be catching up very rapidly.

Between the two types of herpes genitalis, HSV2 is transmitted sexually and from direct contacts that are below the waist. This makes it more easily spread than the HSV1 type, which is usually only transmitted from kissing or during oral sexual intercourse. In men and women, the virus causes blisters and ulcers around the genitals and, in the case of HSV1, around the face and mouth. No matter which type of herpes infects a person, the symptoms will be the same.

Although the virus gets transmitted very quickly from person to person, carriers of the virus may not actually see the symptoms which include:

  • Blisters and lesions around the shaft of the penis, pubis, labia, anus, and inner thigh
  • Pain, itching and burning sensation
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina and painful urination
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or myalgia
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Malaise

These lesions and blisters can last up to 3 weeks and are usually characterized by open sores around the genital areas, thus the term herpes genitalis. Statistics show that about 45 million Americans carry the disease and roughly 90% of these carriers fail to recognize the above-mentioned symptoms or have no symptoms at all. The remaining 10% of the carriers, however, either show mild or more severe symptoms.

The sad part is, there isn’t any cure for herpes yet. This is why part of every governmental health program is the dissemination of the information that prevention is the only way one can fight herpes. There are existing medications that can help ease the discomfort brought by the virus and frequency of the symptoms.

When infected by the virus, you could do the following:

  • Wear comfortable, cotton-based clothing.
  • Use clean, cold cloth to ease the burning and itching instead of scratching lesions with bare hands.
  • Take pain relievers as prescribed by the doctor.
  • Only use soaps that do not contain perfume or other harmful substances that may aggravate the infection.

In the case of pregnant women, it is not necessarily true their newborns will have the disease but the odds are high. Early detection is helpful in transmission to the child at birth. Anyone who has or has not had episodes of herpes genitalis should immediately seek medical help once symptoms start showing.

Since herpes spreads through sexual interaction, the best way to prevent is to abstain from having sexual intercourse with multiple partners. Responsible use of protective products like condoms could also help reduce the chances of catching the virus. Ultimately, open communication between sexual partners could also be a way to prevent the outbreak of the disease.


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