Wednesday, November 23, 2022

How To Know If You Have Genital Herpes Without Symptoms

Theres A Good Chance That You Have Herpes

Herpes Spreads, Even Without Symptoms

If you catch chlamydia or gonorrhea, you can have it treated with antibiotics and it will go away. However, there is no cure for herpes. So once someone has it, she has it for life. Over an entire population, the cases just add up over time. This means that middle-aged adults have some shockingly high herpes rates. For example, 50 to 70 percent of single women aged 45 to 50 have herpes. , aka genital herpes. The other type is oral herpes, HSV-1, although both viruses can infect people in both, um, places.)

Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes

You may be prescribed:

  • antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
  • cream for the pain

If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.

Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex

There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.

What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?

For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.

Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.

Also Check: How To Know If You Have Genital Warts Or Herpes

Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md

Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.

Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.

Can Women Who Have Sex With Women Get Genital Herpes

So confused

Yes. It is possible to get genital herpes, or any other STI, if you are a woman who has sex only with women.

Talk to your partner about her sexual history before having sex, and ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested if you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes. Use a dental dam during oral sex and avoid sexual activity during an outbreak.

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Syphilis: A Greater Health Threat Than Herpes

Syphilis and genital herpes are both STDs that can cause sores in the genital area. Like oral herpes, syphilis can also cause mouth sores, which often clear without treatment. But despite these similarities in symptoms, the two diseases differ in their causes syphilis is caused by a bacteria and herpes by a virus and the health risks they pose.

For most people the exceptions being infants and people who have weakened immune systems or who are chronically ill herpes is more of an annoyance than a dangerous disease. But untreated syphilis can lead to severe complications, including bone, joint, liver, heart, and brain damage.

There are four stages of syphilis, according to the CDC, each with different signs and symptoms. In the primary stage, a painless sore or sores develop where the bacteria first entered the skin or mucous membrane. In the secondary stage, you may develop a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. In the latent stage of syphilis, there are no signs or symptoms, and in the tertiary stage, the bacterial infection can damage the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.

How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes

Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.

Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.

People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.

Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:

  • You notice any symptoms or
  • Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.

STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .

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Whats The Outlook For Someone With Either Condition

You can easily treat genital pimples at home. But if they dont go away in a week or more, see your doctor in case another condition is causing your pimples to appear.

Herpes cant be cured, but it can be successfully managed with prescription antibiotics and OTC pain relievers. Researchers are working to find a cure or vaccine.

Pimples can appear suddenly for a number of reasons, so its hard to fully prevent them. Keeping the area clean with a gentle cleanser is usually sufficient.

You can take quick, easy action each time you have sex to prevent yourself from getting herpes.

Also Check: Can You Date Someone With Herpes And Not Get It

What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex

Sexual Health – Herpes

Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.

People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:

  • Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
  • Tingling, itching or burning.
  • Pain while urinating.

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What Complications Are Connected With An Untreated Genital Herpes Infection

Just as there are health risks associated with untreated chlamydia in men and women, there are also risks connected with untreated herpesâeven in asymptomatic patients. Not only does the infection increase your likelihood of contracting and transmitting other STDs, but it can also lead to:

  • Difficulty urinating, due to inflammation of the urethra
  • Itchy urethra in males
  • Infections in newborns exposed to the virus during a vaginal birth, which can severely harm the childâs health
  • Rectal inflammation , especially in men who have sex with men

The best way to avoid these complications is to practice safe sex and routinely screen for STDs. You can conveniently check for 6 common STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis from the privacy of your home with the Everlywell STD Test for men and women.

How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed

Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.

If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.

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Myth #: Your Sex Life Is Over

While theres no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life.

People have a disproportionate fear of herpes in relation to any other STI, Grimes says. They feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and thats in no way the case.

If you have the virus, your doctor may prescribe a medication like Zovirax or Valtrex to keep on hand in case of a flare-up. And if you experience outbreaks often, your provider may recommend daily dosing. However you treat it, its worth remembering that herpes is a condition to manage it doesnt define you.

If you have to be perfect for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very, very long time to find a match! Grimes says. Everyone has something, and since one in six Americans between 14-49 have HSV-2, odds are very high that your next partner is in the same boat. The main issue is to have productive conversations around these issues.

So theres no reason for all the stigma and secrecy surrounding herpes, since its safe to assume more people have it than you think. And if youre diagnosed with the virus, your provider will help you find a treatment plan thats easy, effective, and fit for your lifestyle.

Can You Pop Herpes Blisters

Ladies: Herpes or overreacting?

Like pimples, you may be tempted to pop a cold sore or a herpes blister, but by popping, you are only doing more harm. Popping a cold sore, a genital herpes blister, or a pimple increases the risk that you will worsen the existing infection, introduce a secondary infection, or irritate your skin further. Popping can also make it more likely to form a scar.

It is best to leave the pimples or blisters alone to heal on their own, but if they are too uncomfortable or painful, talk to your doctor.

Dont Risk It!

Although you can likely tell herpes sores and pimples apart just by looking at them, a medical diagnosis will let you know for sure.

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How To Prevent Herpes

Since herpes is commonly spread from sexual contact with an infected person, the most effective prevention method is abstinence.

However, many people engage in sex at some point in their lives. Therefore, having safe sex is essential. You can use protection, such as dental dams or condoms. Make sure you use protection even when you dont have symptoms or sores.

Herpes is also found on body areas not protected by condoms like labia, butt cheeks, and upper thighs. Do not engage in sexual contact during an outbreak.

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Are There Any Risks To The Test

There is no known risk to having a swab test.

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.

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Why Doctors Dont Automatically Test You For Herpes

OK, clearly herpes is super common. So why dont doctors automatically test for it when you ask to get tested for everything? To answer that question, its important to understand the difference between STI testing and STI screening. Testing is done when you have symptoms, whereas screening is done in the absence of symptomsjust to check to see if youve been exposed.

Doctors will screen for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia even in the absence of symptoms. This is key from a public health perspective because catching these infections in time can prevent serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This happens when an untreated STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia infects reproductive organs, possibly leading to infertility.

Experts dont screen for herpes for a few reasons.

The U.S. Preventative Task Force has recommended against screening asymptomatic adolescents and adults for HSV infections. The rationale is that there is no health benefit thats been proven and there a couple of risks, Dr. Johnston says. One is a false positive test, and the second is a risk of anxiety is not associated with serious health outcomes, yet its still feared.

Even pregnant people who could theoretically risk passing the virus during childbirth are not screened unless they have a history of herpes outbreaks or a current outbreak, Peter Leone, M.D., of UNCs Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, tells SELF.

Also Check: Can You Have Chlamydia And Herpes At The Same Time

How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy

Herpes (oral & genital) – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.

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Can It Lie Dormant

The herpes virus can lie dormant in the body for years before people experience any symptoms.

After people have the first outbreak of herpes, the virus then lies dormant in the nervous system. Any further outbreaks are due to the virus reactivating, which causes symptoms to appear.

Symptoms are usually less severe during repeat outbreaks. Sores also clear up more quickly, often within 37 days. This is due to the antibodies the body produces to fight the first outbreak of herpes. The body can then use these antibodies to respond more quickly to future outbreaks.

There is currently no cure for herpes. Even if a person stops experiencing symptoms, the virus will remain inside their body.

It is also important to point out that herpes is transmissible even when no sores or other symptoms are present. For this reason, early prevention is advisable.

To help reduce the chance of this happening, people can use condoms or dental dams during sex.

Condoms and dental dams do not offer complete protection against the herpes virus, as herpes can live on areas around the genitals. However, these methods do reduce the likelihood of contracting the infection or passing it on.

A person who has herpes can also take other steps to reduce the chance of passing it on to a sexual partner. Such steps include telling their sexual partner that they have herpes before having sex.

Both people can then take additional steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission. These steps may include:

The Cdc Doesnt Recommend Testing For Herpes

The US Centers for Disease Control and Preventions guidelines say it loud and clear .

For the majority of people with herpes, the infection causes them no physical problems, and theres nothing they could do to cure themselves if they found out that they had it. So a positive diagnosis is of limited utility. The CDCs reasoning? It is not clear whether knowledge of a herpes diagnosis improves the health of people taking the tests and reduces spread of HSV in the population.

people with herpes but no symptoms can still spread the virus

But some public heath professionals disagree with these recommendations. Its important to note that people with herpes but no symptoms can still spread the virus to other people. And their risk of contracting HIV is two times as high as those who dont have herpes.

Update: I added information about how the majority of Americans are infected with herpes viruses.

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How Is Genital Herpes Treated

Herpes has no cure. But antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks during the time you take the medicine. Also, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can lower your chance of spreading the infection to your partner.

Your doctor will either give you antiviral medicine to take right after getting outbreak symptoms or to take regularly to try to stop outbreaks from happening. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

During outbreaks, you can take the following steps to speed healing and prevent spreading herpes to other parts of your body or to other people:

  • Keep sores clean and dry.
  • Try not to touch the sores.
  • Wash your hands after any contact with the sores.
  • Avoid all sexual contact from the time you first notice symptoms until the sores have healed.

What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes

Can someone please tell me if this is Hsv ?

As with many STDs, people with herpes type 2 may not know they have a genital infection because they donât have any noticeable symptoms. However, in a symptomatic infection, a person may experience the following signs:

  • Itching, pain, or tenderness in the genital area
  • Small red bumps or white blisters
  • Sores or ulcers that occur when the blisters rupture and ooze or bleed
  • Scabs that develop as the ulcers heal

If youâre experiencing symptoms like these, consider testing for herpes right awayâand speak with your healthcare provider.

During a first herpes outbreak, a person may notice flu-like symptomsâincluding fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes around the groin.

When you have recurrent genital herpes symptoms, the outbreaks tend to be less frequent and less severe after the initial infection. Before the sores reappear in a recurring outbreak, symptomatic patients may notice the following symptoms:

  • Burning, itching, or tingling where they first had the sores
  • Pain in the buttocks, legs, and/or lower back

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