What Happens If Herpes Is Not Treated
Herpes can be painful, but it generally does not cause serious health problems like other STDs can.
Without treatment, you might continue to have regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while. Herpes typically does not get worse over time.
The information on this page is adapted from the CDC and Planned Parenthood.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
Also Check: What Can I Take For Herpes Outbreak
This Virus May Be Super
Herpes is common. Really common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about one in six adults has genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection caused by herpes simplex virus.* . While it may be super-common, there are still a lot of myths out there about ithere are five I hear a lot.
Other Ways Herpes Is Spread
While it is true that herpes simplex virus 1 is commonly linked to cold sores and herpes simplex virus 2 is commonly linked to genital herpes, it is possible to genital herpes if someone with a cold sore performs oral sex on you. On the flip side, you can also get a cold sore by performing oral sex on someone with genital herpes.
Herpes autoinoculation is also possible. This is when you touch a cold sore on your mouth and then touch your genitals . Although this is rare, it can occur.
People have also been known to get herpes in their eyes when they accidentally transfer the virus from the genitals or mouth. For this reason, washing hands frequently is important if you have a herpes outbreak of any sort.
Recommended Reading: How To Heal Genital Herpes Fast
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Most herpes simplex virus infections are easy for physicians to diagnose. On occasion, however, a swab from the infected skin may be sent to the laboratory for viral culture, which takes a few days to grow. Blood tests may also be performed.Untreated herpes simplex virus infections will go away on their own, but medications can reduce the symptoms and shorten the duration of outbreaks. There is no cure for herpes simplex virus infection.Treatment for primary herpes simplex virus infection includes the following oral antiviral medications:
- Acyclovir pills
Also Check: How Does Herpes Look On Men
Prescription Meds Are Available
They can lower the amount of healing time when you take them at the first sign of a cold sore like tingly, red, or itchy skin. Youâll start acyclovir before cold sores fully flare and take it five times a day for 5 days, or you can take valacyclovir at the first sign of a cold sore and then 12 hours later. Famciclovir can be given as a single dose of medicine. So can acyclovir buccal , but instead of swallowing it you place against your gums and it releases the medicine as it dissolves.
Recommended Reading: Can You Use Acyclovir Cream On Genital Herpes
Reduce The Risk Sex Will Spread Herpes
One of the things that scares people when theyre thinking about dating with herpes is the risk for potential partners. Theyre concerned about the possibility that they might spread herpes to someone they care about. This is a legitimate concern.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the likelihood you will spread herpes during sex. Suppressive therapy, for example, can lower the risk of transmission significantly. Its not just good for reducing the number and severity of outbreaks.
Using condoms consistently, even for oral sex, can also make a big difference in your partners risk. Condoms and dental dams dont just make intercourse safer. They also make it less likely for you to spread herpes from your genitals to their mouth, and vice versa. Practicing safe sex is always a good choice.
Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Bumps Fast
You Can Only Get Genital Herpes If Your Partner Has An Active Infection With Sores Right Wrong
A person can be exposed to the virus and pass it to someone else without ever having symptoms. It happens more often than youd think. Thats because the virus can exist in genital fluids even without any ulcers. This is called asymptomatic shedding of virus. Although there is a lot more active virus when there are sores, asymptomatic shedding is probably how most people get herpes. Whats more, only one out of four people who tests positive for genital herpes actually knows that they have the virus. Thats a lot of people. Combine the two and you have many people unknowingly infecting others.
As with the couple above, many people who learn they have genital herpes are shocked. They tell me that they didnt see any sores on their partner or that their partner had never ever had any ulcers, ever . This is common and true, because people can have genital herpes and not know it.
What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
Read Also: How To Hide Herpes On Face
Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
Dont Miss: How Can You Get Genital Herpes
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.
Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
You May Like: How Do You Know You Have Herpes
How To Check If You Have Asymptomatic Herpes
If you’re concerned that you might have been exposed to the virus and not know if you have herpes, you can take a herpes test to verify whether or not youre infected.
The most accurate herpes testing method for asymptomatic people is an IgG test, which checks for the presence of IgG antibodies in your blood. These antibodies can signal a herpes infection using certain testing methods, they can also be used to differentiate between HSV-1 and HSV-2.
IgG antibodies can take several months to form after a herpes infection, meaning youll typically need to wait for 12 to 16 weeks before taking an IgG test to make sure you receive an accurate result.
If youre concerned that you might have asymptomatic herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about testing options. Your doctor will be able to schedule a test based on the date of your potential exposure to the virus and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. If you discover you do have HSV-1 or HSV-2, the most important thing is to not panic.
These viruses are extremely common, and there are a variety of anti-viral medications out there to help minimize the severity and frequency of outbreaks. Most notably, vacyclovir.
Get the latest from Hims
How Can You Prevent Herpes
To reduce your risk of herpes, be sure you use protection whenever you have sex. If you or your partner is experiencing a herpes outbreak, talk with your healthcare provider about when you should resume sexual contact with each other.
If you have symptoms of HSV-2 or think you might have asymptomatic genital herpes, consider getting tested for herpes to know for sure.
The Everlywell at-home STD kit for men or women checks for 6 other common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Our STD test gives you confidential, online results only a few days after the lab receives your sampleâmaking it a convenient testing option.
Also Check: Is It Possible To Not Spread Herpes
How To Recognize Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a very common sexually transmitted disease . It is so common that many people, when they find any skin lesion around the genital areas, are likely to think that it is herpes. They are not entirely wrong to think that way. Genital herpes is the main cause of genital ulcers worldwide.1 And the condition is usually associated with a stigma that can itself cause anxiety and even depression2 and might influence the affected personâs decision to disclose the infection to others or seek care.3
A genital sore is not great news regardless of what is causing it. However, many other conditions causing genital sores have a prognosis different from that of herpes. Some can be worse, but others, unlike herpes,4 can be completely cured. Thatâs why weâre beginning this article with an explanation of how to recognize genital herpes and differentiate it from other genital skin lesions.
A sleeping virus
The herpes virus is known for staying âasleepâ in the body for a long time without showing symptoms. This feature is called latency: once the virus infects a person, after an initial phase that does not necessarily manifest with symptoms, it remains hidden in the body for many years, reactivating every now and then.4 Its reactivation is usually triggered by weakness of the immune system, such as in times of sustained stress, accumulated fatigue, heavy physical activity, or fever, but may not have any apparent cause.5, 6
Herpes skin lesions
When Your Partner Has Herpes
What do you do if its not you with herpes but your partner? Hearing the news may throw you for a bit of a loop. If youre worried or upset, thats understandable. However, try not to take it out on the person who told you. Being open and honest about a herpes diagnosis isnt an easy thing to do.
Its quite possible youve already dated people who had the virus. You may already have it yourself. The majority of people with herpes have no idea they are infected.
Its your choice whether you want to keep dating someone after learning of their herpes diagnosis. Dating someone who knows theyre infected, at least gives you the option of intentionally managing your risk.
Also Check: Has Anyone Ever Been Cured Of Herpes
Also Check: How To Help Herpes Sores
Tingling Or Pain Before Blisters Form
If you know youve been exposed to herpes, you might want to watch for prodromal symptoms. About 50% of people will have symptoms such as itching, tingling, or pain on genital skin before blisters or sores appear, says Dr. Shim. Usually youll experience an outbreak later, but its possible to have this tingling or itching and have no sores show up, she says.
Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
Also Check: Where To Get Herpes Medication
When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
You May Like: How Can You Not Spread Herpes
Can The Herpes Virus Spread If There Are No Symptoms
The herpes virus can occasionally be spread when there are no symptoms due to a phenomena known as Viral Shedding.
It is possible for a person to carry the herpes virus without knowing that they have it, in fact, up to 80% of people who are infected with HSV-2 show no signs of the infection. So it is possible for a person to unwittingly transmit the infection to their partner.
Recommended Reading: What Does Male Genital Herpes Look Like
Herpes Diagnosis In A Newborn Baby
Diagnosing herpes in children is complicated. Children aren’t screened for the infection. In other words, only symptoms should alert the parent that all is not okay. It should prompt a diagnosis that could be done with a swab sample. Nevertheless, a complicated herpes infection calls for specific tests like a lumbar puncture.
Find An Experienced Ob
As previously mentioned, most people living with herpes don’t realize that they have the virus. The virus is classified into two: herpes simplex virus type 2 and herpes simplex virus type 1. It is transmitted by sexual contact, contact with infected saliva, or mouth-to-mouth contact. While the symptoms come and go, these types of herpes are incurable and contagious. Also, the virus does not always show symptoms, so getting tested is essential. The qualified gynecologists at All Women’s Care in Los Angeles can test you and assist you in managing the virus. To learn more about herpes and how we can help you, call us today at .
Read Also: Would I Know If I Had Herpes