Myth: People With Herpes Wear Condoms Forever In Long
If youre in a long-term, monogamous relationship and your partner is aware of your herpes infection, you may have a conversation discussing the benefits and risks of sex without a condom.
Though theres always the risk of infection, some couples decide to strategically employ precautions that keep them as safe as possible. Such precautions include:
- Never having sex during an active herpes outbreak
- Using antiviral medications
- Using a dental dam
What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
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.
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Polymerase Chain Effect Test
Much like the viral culture, your doctor swabs or scrapes an example from one of your own sores. A lab receives the sample and actively seeks genetics from herpes virus. PCR test results usually return to your in 24 hours or less.
Youre almost certainly going to have this test when you have signs and symptoms but its started more than a couple of days because they arrived. In such a case, you can easily depend on the outcome using this test significantly more than the viral community.
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.
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
HSV nucleic acid amplification tests are the most sensitive and highly specific tests available for diagnosing herpes. However, in some settings viral culture is the only test available. The sensitivity of viral culture can be low, especially among people who have recurrent or healing lesions. Because viral shedding is intermittent, it is possible for someone to have a genital herpes infection even though it was not detected by NAAT or culture. 11
Type-specific virologic tests can be used for diagnosing genital herpes when a person has recurrent symptoms or lesion without a confirmatory NAAT, culture result, or has a partner with genital herpes. Both virologic tests and type-specific serologic tests should be available in clinical settings serving patients with, or at risk for, sexually transmitted infections. 11
Given performance limitations with commercially available type-specific serologic tests , a confirmatory test with a second method should be performed before test interpretation. If confirmatory tests are unavailable, patients should be counseled about the limitations of available testing before serologic testing. Healthcare providers should also be aware that false-positive results occur. In instances of suspected recent acquisition, serologic testing within 12 weeks after acquisition may be associated with false negative test results. 11
Providers are strongly encouraged to look at CDCs STI Treatment Guidelines for further diagnostic considerations.
What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.
Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.
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Can I Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes, you can breastfeed if you have genital herpes, but not if you have a herpes sore on one of your breasts. If you have genital herpes, it is possible to spread the infection to any part of your breast, including your nipple and areola.
If you have any genital herpes sores on one or both of your breasts:
- You can keep breastfeeding as long as your baby or pumping equipment does not touch a herpes sore.
- Do not breastfeed from the breast with sores. Herpes is spread through contact with sores and can be dangerous to a newborn baby.
- Pump or hand-express your milk from the breast with sores until the sores heal. Pumping will help keep up your milk supply and prevent your breast from getting overly full and painful. You can store your milk to give to your baby in a bottle for another feeding. But if parts of your pump also touch the sore while pumping, throw the milk away.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About An Hsv Test
The best way to prevent genital herpes or another STD is to not have sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of infection by
- Being in a long-term relationship with one partner who has tested negative for STDs
- Using condoms correctly every time you have sex
If youve been diagnosed with genital herpes, condom use can reduce your risk of spreading the infection to others.
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Can You Get A Herpes Outbreak Right After Another How Do You Know If Youre Having A Second Herpes Outbreak
People with symptomatic HSV-1 may experience several outbreaks per year. The herpes virus takes up permanent residence in the nerve roots and can never be totally eliminated. Some people will experience a second crop of lesions, bumps, and itchiness however, general feelings of being unwell are not usually present with recurring infections.
What Triggers A Cold Sore
After you have been infected with HSV-1, the virus never goes away. It remains dormant in a group of nerve cells in your face called the trigeminal ganglion.
When the virus is triggered, or activated, it wakes up and travels through your nerves to your lips, where a cold sore develops. After an outbreak, the virus goes back to sleep in your body.
What triggers a cold sore in one person might not cause an outbreak in another person. Some people with HSV-1 never develop a cold sore.
A cold sore can be activated by a variety of factors, including:
- Hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy
- Fever and illness, such as cold or flu
- Damaged, dry or cracked lips
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How Do I Know If I Have Herpes Symptoms
Most commonly, herpes will not exhibit symptoms at all, and you wont be able to tell if you have herpes. The most common symptom that does present is whats usually referred to as an outbreak. These outbreaks are sores or blisters that develop on or around the mouth or genitals. Typically, the first outbreak will occur within the first few months of contracting the virus. Outbreaks tend to recur, though they typically grow to be less frequent and less painful, especially with the help of available antiviral medications. However, the first outbreak doesnt always occur soon after being infected, and some people can go years without ever having an outbreak or any symptoms. Thats why frequent testing and being honest with your partner is so important.
Here are a few other symptoms of herpes you might exhibit:
fever eczema eye infections
While all of the above symptoms can mean you have herpes, they could also mean you have another STD or virus, so you cant diagnose herpes based on symptoms alone. You can learn more about herpes symptoms elsewhere on our site.
Put Genital Herpes In Context
People may have an irrational, inaccurate perception of genital herpes. Since its a sexually transmitted virus, they may group it in the dangerous STDs category of their mind, often beside diseases and viruses with much more severe symptoms.
Because of this, its often necessary to follow up the I have herpes part of the conversation with some quick statistics to provide context.
One way to do this is to let your partner know how common it is. According to the World Health Organization, when it comes to HSV-2, an estimated 11 percent of the world population ages 15 to 49 have the virus meaning you can correctly and accurately let your partner know that at least one in ten people is infected with the virus.
To put it in context, you can ask your partner to imagine that one in ten of the people they met that day have the exact same confession to make at some point, assuming they know theyre infected. Sometimes, this is all it takes to put genital herpes in context as a common type of virus.
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How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Herpes To Appear
The primary symptom of a herpes outbreak is sores that resemble blisters, called herpes lesions, on the mouth or genitals.
In addition, people may also experience the following symptoms prior to the outbreak:
- pain and redness, especially around the area the outbreak will occur
- itching and tingling, primarily in the outbreak area
- flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, or swollen lymph nodes
Most of the symptoms that occur before an outbreak indicate that the virus is replicating. Symptoms are usually the worst during the first herpes outbreak.
According to the
Some people with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, which means that they dont experience any physical symptoms of the disease. This doesnt mean that they cant spread the disease, however.
Anyone who has the herpes virus, whether symptomatic or not, can spread the virus to others.
If you have the herpes virus and your body has produced antibodies, it can be detected on a blood test, even if you have no symptoms. The only time the virus might not be detected on a test is if youve been tested too early.
What Does A Herpes Outbreak Feel Like
Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of exposure.
The first outbreak is usually the worst. At first, you might develop some flu-like symptoms. Then you might feel itchy or have an uncomfortable feeling around your genitals or mouth before the lesions appear.
Future outbreaks are likely to be milder and resolve faster.
You may have heard that herpes is only contagious during an outbreak. However, it can be transmitted even though there are no visible signs. You can have herpes and not know it.
For those reasons, its important to try to talk with your sexual partners before assuming or blaming.
It can be a challenging situation to cope with. Learning you have herpes can stir a variety of emotions. Its normal to have mixed feelings and wonder what to expect.
Its important to make an appointment with your healthcare provider as quickly as possible. If you have herpes, your healthcare provider can provide important information about managing your condition.
Make a list of questions before you go, which can help you get the most out of your visit. Let your healthcare provider know if youre having trouble understanding the information.
The more you know and understand about herpes, the better prepared youll be to manage your symptoms and condition. Your healthcare provider will help you create a treatment plan that works best for your medical needs.
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It Is A Sore But Not A Herpes
While genital ulceration is often associated with herpes, it can be the result of several other conditions, including but not limited to, other sexually transmitted diseases, inflammatory conditions, skin irritation, and allergic skin lesions. In addition to herpes, the main sexually transmitted diseases that present with a genital ulcer are primary syphilis and chancroid. In the United States, syphilis infection is more common than chancroid.
How Long Before The First Outbreak
If someone has contracted HSV but not yet experienced a herpes outbreak, truthfully theres no 100% accurate way to determine when one will occur. An outbreak can occur within a week of exposure, or years later.
First, consider that everyones body is different, as is their immune system. If a person has a strong immune system, then it can be possible for an outbreak to occur years after contracting the virus.
Whats more, some strains of HSV are more forceful and aggravating than others.
There is what is considered typical, and that is that people often have their first outbreak two weeks after contracting it. But this just isnt reliable, because its equally accepted that people can often have outbreaks after two years.
Thats why so many people will have trouble pinpointing when they got herpes at all. There are varied statistics and possibilities:
Stress is a common trigger for an outbreak.
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Can Genital Herpes Be Treated
Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.
To reduce pain during an outbreak:
- Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
- Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
- Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.
Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.
Genital Herpes Is Spread By Skin
The virus can be spread when someone with HSV has an episode or an outbreak characterised by having a sore, blister, ulcer or skin split . It can also be spread between episodes, when there is no sore, blister, ulcer or skin split present called asymptomatic viral shedding.
During viral shedding the virus is on the skin surface and can be spread through genital skin-to-skin contact, or from the mouth or face to genital skin during contact.
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How To Recognize Herpes
This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 646,027 times.
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It has two variations, the HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually manifests as a cold sore, or oral lesion, but may sometimes appear on the genitals. HSV-2 refers to genital herpes. HSV-2 is the most common viral sexually transmitted infection in the US and causes infections of the skin and mucous membranes, rectum, eyes, and central nervous system. Herpes is a lifelong and incurable STI.XResearch sourceA Wald, Genital HSV-1 Infections, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2005 June, 82, 189-190 If you think you may have the virus, follow a few simple steps to recognize if you have herpes.
Can Herpes Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent getting herpes is to not have sex with anyone who has the virus. It can be spread even when the person who has it isnt showing any symptoms. If your partner has herpes, there is no way of knowing for sure that you wont get it.
There is no time that is completely safe to have sex and not spread herpes. If you have herpes, you must tell your sex partner. You should avoid having sex if you have any sores. Herpes can spread from one person to another very easily when sores are present.
You should use condoms every time you have sex. They can help reduce the risk of spreading herpes. But its still possible to spread or get herpes if youre using a condom.
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