Sometimes There Are No Symptoms
Some people who contract herpes can go for years before having their first outbreak. Its even possible to have no symptoms at all but still pass on the virus. For some reason, male carriers of herpes seem to have no symptoms but still be infectious more often than females.
But why? Everyones body and immune systems is different. Plus, some strains of the virus are less aggressive than others. Studies also suggest that people who already have HSV-1 are less likely to show symptoms of genital HSV-2 as quickly as those who dont.
Interestingly, the CDC doesnt recommend herpes testing without the presence of symptoms. One reason is that a potential false positive result would have undue psychological costs for the patient. They also dont believe routine tests would have a large enough impact to curb the spread of the infection.
Without symptoms, how do you know if you have herpes thats dormant? Talk to your physician and decide if your symptoms or history warrant a check-up. If you know that you have been exposed to the virus by sexual or other physical contact, you may decide you have a valid reason to be concerned. Remember that herpes can spread even while using a condom. Whats more, oral herpes can be spread to the genitals from oral sex.
How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
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.
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How Soon Can You Be Tested
The incubation period for herpes is 2 to 12 days, which means that the best time to get tested for the herpes virus if you havent had an initial outbreak is after 12 days. If youre worried that youve been exposed to herpes but have not yet been diagnosed, here are some steps you can take:
- If youre currently sexually active, stop all sexual activity until you can receive a formal diagnosis.
- Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment for once the incubation period is up.
- If youre having an outbreak, you dont have to wait to get tested. Its possible to receive a diagnosis based on the lesions.
When To See A Doctor
People should see their doctor if they think they might have herpes, or if they have any symptoms of herpes. Getting tested for herpes is also important to rule out other sexually transmitted infections.
People can visit their doctor or a sexual health clinic for a test. If people have any sores or blisters present, a healthcare provider will use a swab to take a sample from the sores. The sample will indicate whether or not the sores are due to a herpes infection.
Some people may be concerned that they have the herpes virus but no symptoms. In such cases, a doctor might be able to order a blood test to check for the virus in a persons blood. However, the
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What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:
- Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
- Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.
Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.
The Emotional Side Of Herpes
Many people feel embarrassed and ashamed upon learning that they have genital herpes, or theyre worried about getting it from a sexual partner or prospective sexual partner.
If either case describes you, take the time to educate yourself about the causes and symptoms of herpes, treatments, and steps you can take to stop the spread of herpes, such as using condoms.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
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How Will My Healthcare Provider Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.
Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or when you got the infection.
How Is Genital Herpes Treated
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, it is possible to reduce the symptoms using anti-viral medicine. This is most effective when started within 72 hours of the first symptoms.
Medicines can help control outbreaks if they are frequent or severe. Anti-viral medicine can reduce the risk from passing the virus on to a sexual partner.
The symptoms can also be helped by:
- gently bathing the area with a warm salt solution
- pain medicine, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- local anaesthetic ointment or cream
- urinating while sitting in a warm bath, if urination is painful
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How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
They Are A Person Above All
Sure, finding out that the person you have a crush on has herpes can be a tough pill to swallow. Nobody can blame you, its completely normal. Herpes has been the butt of many jokes for years. Once you look past it you will see a real person, not herpes. They think enough of you to keep their secret. They have real feelings, dreams and aspirations just like you do. They are someones mother or daughter, father or son. They are an important person to someone. Herpes does not define who they are. They just happen to have it.
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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.
How Is It Treated
Genital herpes can be treated, but it cannot be cured.Anti-viral medicines can make outbreaks:
Living with genital herpes causes some people to:
- Feel embarrassed or ashamed
- Worry about infecting a sexual partner
- Worry that having herpes will affect relationships with sexual partners
- Avoid dating or sexual relationships
Most people with herpes are able to live with the virusand manage their outbreaks. Talking to trusted healthcare providers and friends can help. Your health careprovider can talk to you about medicines that treatoutbreaks and about ways to reduce the chance ofpassing the virus on to a sexual partner.
Medicines can help lower the chance that you will pass the virus to others.
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The Right Person Wont Reject You
The truth is, some people will reject you when they find out you have herpes. To quote a herpes support forum poster, dating with herpes can be stressful. However, if you do these things, then being diagnosed with herpes is not the end of the world:
- Talk about your diagnosis early
- Have information handy so that you can talk honestly about the actual risks and concerns of the disease
- Be willing to do what you can to reduce the chance you will spread herpes to your partner
Numerous people with genital and oral herpes are open about disclosing their condition. Most of them have active, happy dating and sexual lives. The truth is, its so hard to meet the right person that dating with herpes makes it only the tiniest bit harder. Life after herpes doesnt mean life without love.
Where Do Symptoms Appear
When a person has genital herpes, the virus lies dormant in the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine. When the virus reactivates , it travels nerve paths to the surface of the skin, sometimes causing an outbreak.
Genital herpes, regardless of whether it is HSV-1 or HSV-2, does not cause symptoms on the mouth or face. For more on oral-facial herpes, see the oral herpes page.
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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.
How Can You Avoid Genital Herpes
Most women get genital herpes through sexual contactwith a person who has herpes sores. You can get thevirus without having sex. To avoid infection:
- Avoid skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
- Have safer sex:
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Condoms, when used correctly, can reduce therisk of getting genital herpes. Each time you have sexuse a condom :
- Before vaginal sex
- Before oral sex
For more information, see Safer Sex.
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Found Out Girlfriend Of 5 Months Has Herpes
Yesterday was quite the day. Ive always had a fear of STDs, Im not sure why, Im just a germo. Ive gotten better as Ive gotten older, but Ive tried to be careful to protect myself. Yesterday, my girlfriend received test results from her gyno appointment. She apparently requested a full battery of tests, to try and fully ease my mind as we discussed my worries in the past and she was confident she didnt have anything. Well, it turns out she test positive for HSV2. Bummer. Weve been dating for 5 months, probably have sex about 3 times a week on average. We have used condoms every time except twice. She was quite shocked, as was I. I didnt, and dont know what to say. Statistically speaking, I know the odds I contracted it are very small. Most of the data Ive read indicate somewhere around 2% per year from female to male with regular condom use. I believe her when she says she didnt know she had it, else why come clean now.
I guess the point of this threadIm searching for advice. Has anyone dealt with this situation? Im sure they have. Finding out down the road that their partners has herpes. What did you do? What mental steps did you take to move forward? What options do I have?
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What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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When To See A Doctor Or Visit A Sexual Health Clinic
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection , meaning that the most appropriate place to seek treatment may be a sexual health clinic. Most sexual health clinics operate a walk-in service, avoiding the need for an appointment. In most cases, oral herpes and the other forms of the condition are not STIs, meaning a general doctorâs surgery is the most appropriate place to seek treatment.
Seek treatment when any of the signs or symptoms of herpes appear.
Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
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