Before You Judge Me Let Me Explain
Since being diagnosed with herpes about a year ago, Ive been torn between telling potential sexual partners about my status. All the advice out there seems to boil down to the sad, impossible truth: Given how low the risks of transmission are, how unlikely it is that youll have any symptoms if you do get it, and how manageable it is if you do have symptoms, you really shouldnt have to tell potential sexual partners. And yet, you just do. It is just the responsible and respectful thing to do. It seems that the reasons behind this heartbreaking conclusion are 1) you might transmit the virus to your partner, and even if they dont get any symptoms, they could pass it on to someone else, thus perpetuating the vicious life cycle of an STI and 2) even if youre not worried about passing it on, if you end up in a longer-term situation with someone youll have to disclose your herpes diagnosis at some point, right? Because not telling them would be dishonest. And a relationship built on lies is bound to fail, right? You couldnt deal with that level of deceit between you and a long-term romantic partner, could you? No. Best to tell them. It sucks that you have to and we wish we lived in a society where there wasnt this much stigma around genital herpes, but we do and therefore you are obliged to disclose your status.
How is this possible? Okay, are you ready for it? This is gonna flip your lid.
How Can I Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Warts
- Keep the genital area clean and dry. You can use a hair dryer to help dry the area.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after touching the area with warts.
- Do not scratch the warts.
- Avoid sexual activity until the warts have completely healed.
- Use latex condoms during intercourse. Condoms can reduce your risk of getting genital warts, but warts can spread from areas not covered by a condom.
- Avoid having intercourse with multiple partners.
A vaccine is available to prevent types of HPV infections that are high risk for genital warts and cancer of the cervix. If you already have HPV, the vaccine will not cure your infection, but it will prevent infections with several other types of HPV.
The HPV vaccine is approved for boys, girls, men and women 9 to 26 years old. It is recommended for all girls 11 to 12 years old as part of their routine immunization schedule. It is given in 3 shots. The vaccine may protect against HPV for 5 years. Researchers are doing studies to see if a booster shot is needed after 5 years.
The vaccine is usually not given to pregnant women.
Developed by RelayHealth.Published by RelayHealth.This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.Â© 2018 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.
Managing Pain And Discomfort
Because herpes cannot be totally eliminated from the body, episodes can recur throughout life. Some remedies that people affected by an active episode of genital herpes can use to relieve the discomfort are:
- Using acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, or ibuprofen to manage the pain
- Applying ice packs to the affected area of skin
- Wearing loose-fitting clothes and underwear made from breathable, natural fibers such as cotton
Good to know: Never apply ice directly to the skin always wrap it in a clean cloth or plastic bag. Petroleum jelly can damage condoms, contraceptive caps and diaphragms.
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Be Open With Your Partner Before Sex
If you have a confirmed or suspected HSV-2 infection, it’s important to make sure your partner is informed before becoming sexually active.
Condoms can help keep the virus from spreading, but they don’t prevent all types of transmission. In fact, the transmission of HSV-2 via oral sex is possible even if there are no sores present on the genitals or mouth.
Though it’s impossible to completely eliminate the chances of transmission, prevention techniques are very effective. For example, one large study reported that only 1.9% of susceptible partners became infected with clinically symptomatic HSV-2 when given the antiviral valacyclovir as a precautionary treatment.
It’s essential to be open and honest with your partner. By improving communication, educating yourselves, and managing expectations, you can better reduce the risk of spreading a genital herpes infection to your partner.
What Are Genital Warts
Genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, says Michael Cackovic, MD, a maternal fetal medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
The warts are caused by an infection from the human papillomavirus . Many HPV strains can be spread through sexual contact. If you have HPV, it’s possible to spread the infection even if you don’t have active warts, Jeffy says.
Here are a few symptoms of genital warts:
- Flesh-colored bumps that may or may not be visible. Warts usually appear in the genital area but can also be in the mouth or throat from oral sex with an infected person, the American Academy of Dermatology reports.
- Mild pain or no pain at all
- Itchiness in the genital area
- Bleeding of warts during sex
- Warts may feel sore if they rub against skin or clothing.
Left untreated, an outbreak of genital warts can last months or even years. Sometimes they will go away on their own, but usually they require treatment, says Cackovic. Treatments for genital warts include prescription topical medications such as imiquimod, freezing them with liquid nitrogen, or excision, i.e. surgical removal.
Although topical treatments may take a few weeks to work, they are the easiest to prescribe because you can use them at home every day, Cackovic says. The US National Library of Medicine advises avoiding sexual contact while using treatments such as imiquimod because it can weaken condoms and vaginal diaphragms.
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Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication
Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.
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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
- If you get genital herpes during pregnancy, you can spread genital herpes to your baby during delivery.
- If you had genital herpes before pregnancy, your baby is still at risk of getting herpes, but the risk is lower.
Most women with genital herpes have healthy babies. But babies who get herpes from their mother have neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition that can cause problems in a newborn baby such as brain damage, eye problems, or even death.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most women with genital herpes do not know they have it. But, if you get symptoms with the first outbreak of genital herpes, they can be severe. Genital herpes also can be severe and long-lasting in people whose immune systems do not work properly, such as women with HIV.
The first signs of genital herpes usually show up two to 12 days after having sexual contact with someone who has herpes. Symptoms can last from two to four weeks. There are other early symptoms of genital herpes:
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever
If you have any symptoms of genital herpes, see a doctor or nurse.
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How Do You Prevent Hpv
There are a number of things that can help decrease the risk of getting HPV.
Vaccines are available to prevent certain types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer, as well as some other cancers. These are often offered to adolescent girls, men who have sex with men and people with HIV. Itâs best to have the vaccine before you start having sex, although itâs sometimes possible to get the vaccine later in life. Ask a healthcare worker to find out if you can get the HPV vaccine where you are.
Always cover sex toys with a new condom for each partner and wash them after use.
Having regular STI tests is one of the best ways to look after your sexual health. If you are having sex with multiple partners, itâs even more important to use condoms and get tested regularly even if you donât have any symptoms.
Treating The Symptoms Of Herpes
Theres currently no cure for herpes, but there are treatments that can reduce the symptoms and make it less likely to transmit the virus to a sex partner.
Antiviral medications are prescribed to help clear up symptoms or reduce the frequency of outbreaks. Some antivirals that may be prescribed include:
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Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner and let him or her know that you do and the risk involved. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your overall health, sex life, and relationships. It is best for you to talk to a health care provider about those concerns, but it also is important to recognize that while herpes is not curable, it can be managed with medication. Daily suppressive therapy for herpes can also lower your risk of spreading genital herpes to your sex partner. Be sure to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Since a genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships, it is important to understand how to talk to sexual partners about STDsexternal icon.
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Whos At Risk For Stds
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for an STD, regardless of gender, race, social class, or sexual orientation. That said, teenagers and young adults acquire STDs more easily than older people. By age 25, half of sexually active adults get an STD. Having multiple sex partners also raises the risk. The CDC has noted that some STDs are on the rise in men who have sex with men, including syphilis and LGV.
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What To Expect On This Page
We summarize in this article how to recognize genital herpes and why itâs important to talk to your doctor if youâre worried you may have it.
The most common symptom of herpes is skin lesions. These lesions can be confused with similar-looking lesions caused by a number of other conditions.
Using photographs to help you see what weâre saying, we describe herpes lesions and compare and contrast them with the lesions caused by these diseases:
Youtube video on how to differentiate herpes from other skin conditionsPractical tips by expert STD doctor – Dr.Fuzayloff
Genital Herpes And Hpv: The Facts
Genital herpes and genital warts are both frequently seen in primary care. They are often difficult consultations as many patients have trouble dealing with the associated stigma. Here are some key points to help aid information giving and to alleviate patient anxiety.
- Herpes is very common and may be caused by either herpes simplex type 1 or type 2 . Some patients have both types.
- HSV-1 causes “cold sores”, and up to 80% of the population has this virus. However, HSV-1 may also be transmitted to the genitals through oral/genital sex and it accounts for about 40% of genital herpes.
- HSV-2 remains the most common cause of recurrent genital herpes. 89% of individuals experience recurrences in the first year after acquisition. HSV-1 is less likely to cause recurrent outbreaks.
- 80% of those with genital herpes do not know they have it, as they may have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
- HSV is not spread through sharing communal facilities or towels.
- Once you have herpes at one site, it is rare to then get the same type at another site due to the production of antibodies.
Some patients will benefit from receiving counselling following a diagnosis of genital herpes or HPV. A referral can be made to your local sexual health clinic for this.
Want to know more? Register for the The tale of two viruses – Herpes and HPV CPD , Thursday 15 June at CESPHN. Email to register or .
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What Are These Bumps
Genital skin tags and genital warts are two common skin conditions. They can be confused for one another because of where they develop and how they look.
Skin tags are common, harmless growths that often grow in areas where the skin folds, like your neck, eyelids, and groin. They are often oval or egg-shaped and attached to a fleshy stalk.
Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus , which is a common sexually transmitted infection . Genital warts typically look like lesions or bumps that are flat or slightly raised on the skins surface. They usually feel rough or bumpy, and they may resemble cauliflower.
Like skin tags, genital warts arent dangerous or cancerous, but they are a sign of an infection. Genital warts can go away on their own, but treatment can stop them from growing as well as stop any discomfort they may cause.
Keep reading to learn more about what these bumps look like, what causes them, and how theyre treated.
While these two skin conditions look similar, there are a few distinct characteristics that can help you differentiate between the two.
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:
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Hpv And Genital Warts Symptoms And Treatment
Human papilloma virus is a common viral infection that can affect your skin. Nearly everyone will get HPV at some point in their lives.
A vaccine is available to prevent certain types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer. It is most effective if given before having sex for the first time.
How Can I Know If I Have An Hpv Infection
If you have genital warts you have an HPV infection.
You can also have an HPV infection and not have warts or any discomfort.
If you are a female, you can have a test for HPV alone or together with a Pap-smear.
According to international guidelines, any healthy woman after 21 years old should have a Pap-smear every 3 years.
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Should Sexual Partners Be Told About Genital Warts
Yes. Someone diagnosed with genital warts should have an honest conversation with sexual partners. Partners need to be seen by a health care provider who can check for genital warts and do screenings for other STDs.
If the couple plan to continue having sex, both people need to understand that a condom will help lower the risk of spreading genital warts/HPV but can’t completely prevent it.
When To See A Medical Provider
If you think that you have either genital warts or genital herpes, or you are unsure what type of outbreak is affecting your genital area, speak with a healthcare provider.
In many cases, a simple conversation and physical examination can identify the cause of your symptoms.
While there is no cure for HPV or genital herpes, there are OTC and other treatments that may speed the healing time of sores and relieve discomfort.
A healthcare provider is also available to answer questions you have as well as to offer tips for minimizing risks of sexual disease or infection transmission.
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