What Happens When You Get Infected With Genital Herpes
Most people who are infected with genital herpes are not aware of their infection. However, if symptoms occur during the primary episode, they can be quite pronounced. The primary episode usually occurs within two weeks after the herpes virus is transmitted, and lesions typically heal within two to four weeks. Other genital herpes symptoms during Read more
Most people who are infected with genital herpes are not aware of their infection. However, if symptoms occur during the primary episode, they can be quite pronounced. The primary episode usually occurs within two weeks after the herpes virus is transmitted, and lesions typically heal within two to four weeks.
Other genital herpes symptoms during the primary episode may include a second crop of lesions, or flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. However, some individuals with genital herpes may never have lesions, or may have very mild symptoms that they dont even notice or that they mistake for insect bites or a rash. Most people diagnosed with a primary episode of genital herpes can expect to have several symptomatic recurrences a year .
The Health Risks Of Genital Herpes
Pain and discomfort are the main health effects of genital herpes, but the virus can also cause emotional and social problems for those infected. Although it cannot be cured, genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medication that may help control the recurrences. On rare occasions, genital herpes may cause serious complications such as blindness and inflammation of the brain.
Genital herpes can sometimes be passed from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or birth. The infection can be life-threatening to the child or result in skin lesions or brain damage. Antiviral medication and a cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of infecting the child.
How Common Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year.1 Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection .2 However, the prevalence of genital herpes infection is higher than that because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. 3 Oral HSV-1 infection is typically acquired in childhood because the prevalence of oral HSV-1 infection has declined in recent decades, people may have become more susceptible to contracting a genital herpes infection from HSV-1. 4
HSV-2 infection is more common among women than among men the percentages of those infected during 2015-2016 were 15.9% versus 8.2% respectively, among 14 to 49 year olds. 2 This is possibly because genital infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men during penile-vaginal sex. 5 HSV-2 infection is more common among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites . 2 A previous analysis found that these disparities, exist even among persons with similar numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Most infected persons may be unaware of their infection in the United States, an estimated 87.4% of 14 to 49 year olds infected with HSV-2 have never received a clinical diagnosis. 6
The age-adjusted percentage of persons in the United States infected with HSV-2 decreased from 18.0% in 19992000 to 12.1% in 2015-2016. 2
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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.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
What You Need To Know Herpes And Pregnancy
If you have herpes and are expectant, it’s wise to go to prenatal care visits. Tell the physician if you have ever had genital herpes or have ever been exposed to the STD. According to the CDC, the virus can result in a miscarriage or increase your likelihood of early delivery.
The virus can be transmitted to your baby before birth, but it is more common during vaginal delivery. If you are already infected, your doctor might offer you anti-herpes medication at the end of the pregnancy. During delivery, any experienced medical practitioner should examine you for sores, among other symptoms. If you’ve symptoms at childbirth, you will undergo a cesarean section.
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Oral Herpes And Cold Sores
Cold sores are a symptom of oral herpes .
Cold sores are blister-like sores that occur near the mouth or lips. They can also occur on other areas of the face. They typically persist for 2 weeks or more. Because theres no cure for herpes, cold sores can come back.
Genital herpes is quite common.
Although genital herpes is typically caused by HSV-2, the infection can also be caused by HSV-1.
According to the WHOs latest available statistics, it was estimated that 491.5 million people had an HSV-2 infection in 2016. This is over one-tenth of the worlds population ages 15 to 49 years.
The WHO also estimates that 3.7 billion people had an HSV-1 infection in the same year, which accounts for around two-thirds of the worlds population under age 50 years.
CDC does not recommend getting tested for herpes.
However, if there are symptoms of genital herpes, its important to see a doctor. They can make a diagnosis and discuss management strategies for the infection.
Additionally, if theres a potential of having been exposed to HSV, or if theres a desire to get a full STI exam and testing, its recommended to schedule an appointment with a doctor.
If an in-person appointment is not possible, an at-home test kit is another option to consider. However, its important to note that an in-person test done by a doctor may be more accurate.
Treatment can reduce outbreaks, but it cannot cure herpes simplex viruses.
When Both Partners Have Herpes
Congratulations you can skip having the talk! If you and your partner have the same type of herpes, you have more freedom than a couple not trying to infect one partner. If you both have HSV-2, for example, you both already have the antibodies built up and cannot be re-infected. Your outbreaks and symptoms will instead be affected by the strength of your immune system, so keep it strong.
You will also not necessarily have the same need to avoid sex during and around times of outbreaks, but you will probably want to, for the sake of avoiding discomfort or prolonging the outbreak by irritating it.
If you have different strains of herpes i.e. one of you has HSV-1 and one has HSV-2, read on. You are already well-protected by your antibodies. If you have HSV-2, you can still get, but might not be as likely to get, genital HSV-1. If you have HSV-1, however, you are still as susceptible to get HSV-2. Getting tested.
There are dating sites for people with herpes that can help you to meet potential partners with the same type of HSV as you. .
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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.
How Can Stis Affect My Baby
Some STIs, such as syphilis and HIV, can infect a baby while its still in the mothers womb. Others, such as chlamydia and genital herpes, can infect the baby as it is being delivered.
STIs can pose significant health risks to unborn babies. These include:
- transmission of the infection to the baby
Getting regular medical care during your pregnancy and discussing any concerns you may have of STIs with your doctor or midwife help reduce the risk of any problems caused by STIs during your pregnancy.
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Increased Risk Of Getting Hiv
Having an STI can make it more likely for you to get HIV, or give HIV to someone else.
Getting frequent infections with syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes can also make you more likely to get HIV in the future. This happens because HIV and STIs share similar risk factors. Also, having a sore from an STI can allow HIV to enter your body more easily.
What Are Oral Herpes Simplex Virus Infections
Oral herpes simplex virus infections cause sores to form on the mouth, lips, or gums. HSV has 2 types. Oral HSV infections are most often caused by HSV type 1. HSV type 2 normally affects the genital area, but may also occur in the mouth. After you are infected, the virus hides in your nerves and may return. An HSV infection that comes back is also known as a cold sore.
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What Causes Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex viruses spread from person to person through close contact. You can get a herpes simplex virus from touching a herpes sore. Most people, however, get herpes simplex from an infected person who does not have sores. Doctors call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
How people get herpes around their mouth
A person with HSV-1 can pass it to someone else by:
Touching the persons skin, such as pinching a childs cheek
Sharing objects such as silverware, lip balm, or a razor
How people get herpes on their genitals
You can get genital herpes after coming into contact with HSV-1 or HSV-2. Most people get genital herpes from HSV-2, which they get during sex. If someone has a cold sore and performs oral sex, this can spread HSV-1 to the genitals, and cause herpes sores on the genitals.
Mothers can give the herpes virus to their baby during childbirth. If the baby is born during the mother’s first episode of genital herpes, the baby can have serious problems.
Get Tested For Genital Herpes
Testing for genital herpes is easily done by a healthcare provider through swabs, blood testing, and/or visual diagnosis. Ã¢
Healthcare providers may even be able to visually diagnose the lesions as herpes, using lab tests to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common testing method in Canada is swabbing the surface of the lesion and sending it to a lab for testing. These swab tests can determine whether HSV-1 or HSV-2 caused the genital herpes infection. This kind of testing is usually not repeated once positive.
Blood tests can also determine if someone has an HSV infection and which type of the virus. However, blood testing is limited because it does not reveal if an infection is active, the infection location on the body, or how and when it was contracted.
Getting regular STI tests is an essential way to prevent infection or reinfection of sexual partners.Ã¢
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Prognosis Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes can be treated and managed. Baill stresses that for most people who have healthy immune systems, the high-risk times for giving a sex partner genital herpes are during the first outbreak and during later outbreaks of sores.
Without such an outbreak, the viral load is usually not sufficient to infect a normal, healthy partner, she says. Antiviral medication can be effective at controlling the frequency and the severity of genital herpes outbreaks, Baill says.
For some people, though, even the times when no symptoms are present can be risky ones for transmission.
If you have genital herpes and your partner is taking biologic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis or MS or psoriasis, you may need to be extra careful, says Baill. It may take a lower viral load to infect people taking those medications.
In these situations, she says, you may want to take antiviral drugs in an ongoing way to keep your viral load low and protect your partner.
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.
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What Happens If You Dont Get Herpes Treatment
The good news about herpes is that its not deadly or even very dangerous. It might be annoying, but herpes doesnt get worse over time or cause serious health problems like other STDs can.
If you dont get treated for herpes, you might keep having regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while.
There are a few reasons people may decide not to get treatment. They might not have that many outbreaks, or their outbreaks dont really bother them. Or maybe theyre not having sex, so theyre not that worried about having herpes right now. Whatever your situation is, getting treatment for herpes is your choice.
Having herpes can make it easier to get HIV, because the sores give HIV an open pathway into your body. So always use condoms to help prevent the spread of both herpes and HIV.
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Recovering From Eye Herpes
If youre treating your eye herpes with eye drops, you may need to put them in as often as every 2 hours, depending on the medication your doctor prescribes. Youll need to keep applying the drops for up to 2 weeks.
With oral acyclovir, youll take the pills five times per day.
You should see improvement in 2 to 5 days. The symptoms should be gone within 2 to 3 weeks.
After a first bout of eye herpes, about 20 percent of people will have an additional outbreak in the following year. After multiple recurrences, your doctor may recommend taking antiviral medication daily.
This is because multiple outbreaks damage your cornea. Complications include:
- numbing of the corneal surface
- perforation of the cornea
If the cornea is damaged enough to cause significant vision loss, you may need a corneal transplant .
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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.