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What Is Signs Of Herpes For Females

Signs Of Genital Herpes

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

Genital herpes can be passed even if an outbreak isnt occuring when infected cells cross from a carrier to a newly infected individual. The virus enters the blood stream and can remain dormant until it flares up, causing a group of open sores to appear on the skin. The open sores will eventually blister and heal over within a few weeks. Other symptoms include:

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Tips For Preventing Oral Herpes

Oral herpes is very contagious and its nearly impossible to prevent exposure.Exposure is very common for most people by the time they reach adulthood.

To prevent herpes sores recurrence, you can keep the area around your mouth clean and dry and take antiviral medications at the first sign of a flare-up.

Many people feel a tingling or burning sensation before a sore develops, which is when they can begin taking an antiviral medication.

Over-the-counter topical medications are also available to lessen the severity and duration of symptoms.

Can Women Who Have Sex With Women Get Genital Herpes

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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Pain & Itching In The Genital Region As The First Sign Of Genital Herpes

The initial presenting features of genital herpes include: Severe pain in the genital area along with a sensation of itching. The area will also be extremely tender to palpation and pain can be triggered by just touching the area. This is followed by formation of erythematous bumps in the genital area. This is usually seen after a couple of weeks of the genital herpes infection. These bumps tend to grow and form blisters, which ultimately rupture and ooze. These blisters make it difficult for the patient to void as they are quite painful.

Recognizing The Signs: The Prodrome

What Does Herpes Look Like in Stages?

Early in the phase of reactivation , many people experience an itching, tingling, or painful feeling in the area where their recurrent lesions will develop. This sort of warning symptomcalled a prodromeoften comes a day or two before lesions appear. To be on the safe side, its best to assume virus is active during these times.

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Causes And Risk Factors Of Genital Herpes

Two types of viruses cause genital herpes herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2 .

Usually, HSV-1 causes oral herpes, which becomes visible in the form of cold sores, or fever blisters, on the face, close to the mouth. Most people contract an oral herpes infection during their childhood or young adult years from nonsexual contact with the saliva of an infected person.

HSV-1 mainly spreads through direct contact with cold sores or saliva. Having oral herpes, or cold sores, does not mean that you have genital herpes. But if you have oral herpes, you can spread it from your mouth to another persons genitals if you perform oral sex on them.

Early Symptoms Of Oral Herpes

  • Incubation Period: Time it takes to come in contact with the virus or for the virus to become active to the time that signs and symptoms appear.

The incubation period can serve as a good estimation to measure when you think an outbreak may occur. This time period can be anywhere between two to 12 days, although its typically around three to six days before symptoms start to appear. During the incubation period you may experience early symptoms of oral herpes that may give you a heads up to start stocking up and applying your treatment remedies to beat or lessen the severity of an outbreak. These early symptoms can manifest themselves as:

  • Appearance of red bumps

You may be one that doesnt experience any early symptoms before an outbreak occurs. But if you do, these sensations are often the give-aways that an outbreak is on its way. You can feel these sensations in the area that is affected by herpes and devise your treatment plan now to help minimize painful and distressing symptoms.

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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

Herpes Spreads, Even Without Symptoms

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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Is Eye Herpes Contagious

Eye and ocular herpes, as well as the herpes virus in general, is very contagious. Coming in contact with an infected person can contaminate you with the virus. Interestingly enough, the virus can lie dormant and never surface. Theres also a chance that you came in contact with an infected person but do not catch the virus.

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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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.

Could I Have Genital Herpes And Not Know

Genital Herpes Symptoms, Risk Factors &  Treatments

Unless no one has ever kissed you, and unless youve never had sex, it is possible that youve picked up a herpes virus.

Oral herpes, usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 , shows up as cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth. Even a casual peck on the lips from someone with a cold sore can give you the virus. Thats why its so common: As many as 50% to 80% of adults in the U.S. have oral herpes.

Genital herpes, most often caused by the second type of herpes virus , is less common, but plenty of people still have it. Roughly one in five U.S. adults has genital herpes. But up to 90% of those who have it dont know they are infected. You could be one of them.

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What Causes Symptoms To Come Back

When symptoms recur, they usually come on during times of emotional stress or illness. That’s because, during these times, your body’s immune system may be less able to suppress the virus and keep it from becoming active.

Symptom triggers can include:

  • Interfere with a person’s sense of security and intimacy

In some cases, though, complications from genital herpes can be serious, even life-threatening.

Although it’s rare, pregnant women can pass on the herpes infection to their child. This can result in a serious and sometimes deadly infection in the baby. That’s why taking steps to prevent an outbreak at time of delivery is recommended starting at 34 weeks into the pregnancy. If you have signs of an active viral infection when it’s time to deliver, your doctor will likely recommend a cesarean section for delivery.


People with genital herpes have a higher risk of an HIV infection. One reason is that cracks and breaks in the skin that result from an outbreak create openings through which HIV can enter the body.

If you have any reason to believe you may have an HSV infection as the result of a sexual encounter — either genital or oral — contact your health care provider.

What Do Herpes Blisters/sores Look Like

The main symptom of genital herpes is painful blistering around the genitals. Blisters caused by genital herpes develop around the:

In women, the blisters can also develop on the cervix.

Herpes blisters are small, red and painful. They will burst, leaving open sores that are very infectious. After this they will scab or crust over and heal without leaving any scarring. The blisters can sometimes last for as long as three weeks without any treatment.

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What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes

If you have genital herpes:

  • See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
  • Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
  • Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
  • Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
  • Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.

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After unprotected sex, STD worries may quickly rise to the top of your mind. Are you having unusual symptoms? Do you worry that you might have an STD? With most STDs, early treatment is critical. Whether you have a treatable problem or a chronic infection that you will need to manage for the rest of your life, early diagnosis and treatment will give you the best possible outcome. By learning to recognize the early signs and symptoms of an STD, youll know when to pay a visit to your doctor.

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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.

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The First Herpes Outbreak Is Typically The Worst

The initial herpes outbreak often occurs within a couple weeks of contracting the virus from an infected individual. This is known as the incubation period, where HSV is multiplying inside the body until the point it causes an outbreak. The first outbreak of herpes is usually the most severe, lasting approximately two to three weeks. Subsequent outbreaks are often less pronounced, and flare ups tend to decrease over time.

Common early stage symptoms of herpes in women may include:

  • Flu or fever-like symptoms
  • Pain in the legs, buttocks, or vaginal area
  • A change in vaginal discharge
  • An increasingly uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the area beneath the abdomen
  • Difficulty urinating, or pain during bowel movements

In many cases, the flu-like and body ache symptoms that occur during the initial presentation of the HSV-2 virus do not appear in subsequent outbreaks.

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What You Need To Know

  • Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
  • Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
  • If you know you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, cesarean section may be recommended.

Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All

Genital Herpes in Women: Symptoms of HSV You Shouldn

People with HSV-2 infection have an increased risk of getting human immunodeficiency virus if they have sex with an HIV-infected partner. Taking suppressive therapy does not decrease this risk.

  • How can the herpes virus affect pregnancy?

    If a woman is pregnant and infected with HSV, it can be passed to the fetus during birth while passing through the womans infected birth canal. This is most likely to occur if a woman first becomes infected with HSV during pregnancy and in a woman who has her first outbreak late in pregnancy. But it also can occur during a recurrent outbreak in a woman who was infected before pregnancy, although the risk is much lower.

    If you have sores or warning signs of an outbreak at the time of delivery, you may need to have a cesarean delivery to reduce chance of infection. The decision depends on many factors, including where the sores are on your body and whether the fetus would come into contact with them during delivery.

  • Can I still breastfeed my baby if I have the herpes virus?

    Yes, in most cases. The herpes virus cannot be passed to a baby through breast milk. However, the baby could get infected by touching a sore on your body. Make sure any sores that the baby could come into contact with are covered when you hold your baby or while breastfeeding. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after feeding your baby. If you have sores on your breast, you should not breastfeed your baby from that breast.

  • Article continues below

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    When To See A Doctor

    People who are sexually active should see a doctor regularly to undergo screenings for sexually transmitted infections .

    A person who suspects that they may have come into contact with herpes should see a doctor to get a test.

    A person should also see a doctor if they experience any symptoms of genital or oral herpes. A doctor can confirm a diagnosis and discuss the treatment options.

    If someone who has genital herpes becomes pregnant, they should see a healthcare provider to prevent passing the virus to the baby.

    It is possible for pregnant people with genital herpes to deliver a baby safely, but a doctor needs to be aware of the situation to do this effectively.

    Some People Dont Know That They Have Herpes

    While some people experience the symptoms and recognize that they have become infected with genital herpes, because the symptoms can be quite mild or non-existent, many people do not realize that they are infected. Also, because the symptoms as so similar to flu symptoms, sometimes people misdiagnose themselves thinking they had the flu. The CDC estimates that one in five adults in the U. S. carries the genital herpes virus, but as many as ninety percent of those people are unaware that they have contracted the virus.

    The frequency and duration of an outbreak of genital herpes can also vary greatly from person to person. Statistics from the CDC indicate that the average number of outbreaks of genital HSV-2 herpes is four to five episodes per year whereas the average for genital HSV-1 herpes is less than once per year. Commonly people experience more outbreaks during the first year after becoming infected and then find that outbreaks tend to lessen in severity and frequency over time.

    What exactly triggers a genital herpes outbreak also varies greatly from person to person. It could be anything from being sick, a poor diet, emotional or physical stress, chafing of the genital area, surgical trauma, steroidal medication, or even prolonged exposure to UV light. Over time people learn what triggers outbreaks in their own body and can take steps to manage or minimize outbreaks.

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    Symptoms And Causes Of Genital Herpes

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