Tuesday, October 4, 2022

What To Do If You Have Genital Herpes

Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Genital Herpes

What You Need to Know About Genital Herpes

There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.

Though several clinical trials have tested vaccines against genital herpes, there is no vaccine currently available to prevent infection. One vaccine trial showed efficacy among women whose partners had HSV-2, but only among women not infected with HSV-1. Efficacy was not observed among men whose partners had HSV-2. Another trial testing the same vaccine showed some protection from genital HSV-1 infection, but none from HSV-2.

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.

It Is Only A Taboo Because No One Will Talk About It

Things stop being taboo when we stop staying silent about them. We need to normalize herpes, and Dr. Loanzons book aims to do that by sharing her experience and journey. She has already heard from many readers who see themselves in her story: Were all having the same experience, yet nobody is talking about it. One of my girlfriends who is a plastic surgeon just told me, Several years ago, breast cancer was a taboo thing, and now everybody knows someone who has breast cancer. Id really like to move into that commonplace topic.

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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 Can I Find Out If I Have Genital Herpes

Is This Genital Herpes ?

Go to your doctor and get tested. A doctor may take a sample from what appears to be a genital herpes sore and send it to a lab for testing.

You can also get a blood test. The blood test looks for antibodies to the virus that your immune system would have made if you were infected. The second type of herpes simplex virus, HSV-2, almost always infects the genitals, so if a test shows antibodies to HSV-2 in your blood, you probably have genital herpes. A blood test that shows antibodies to the other type of herpes virus, HSV-1, means you could have genital or oral herpes. That’s because oral herpes, which is usually caused by HSV-1, can spread to the genitals during oral sex.

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Genital Herpes: The Painful Facts About A Tricky Virus

A young woman* came into my office complaining of horrible pain and itching in her genital area. She had recently started dating, and her current boyfriend was her first sexual contact. He, however, had had other partners before her. She had telltale sores and tests confirmed that the cause was genital herpes.

Genital herpes is far and away the most common sexually transmitted infection that we see in primary care. I find myself explaining the diagnosis to distressed patients far more often than I would like.

There are two types of herpes, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Generally speaking, HSV-1 is responsible for those annoying cold sores that can pop up during times of stress or lack of sleep. HSV-2 usually causes genital sores. Many people dont realize that HSV-1 can cause genital ulcers as well, though these tend to be less severe and less likely to recur.

It can take as little as a few days and up to a week after a person has been exposed before any symptoms appear. First, there will be redness and tingling, followed by painful bumps that progress to fluid-filled blisters. Eventually, these burst to form ulcers which then crust over, healing over several weeks. HSV-2 infections can be more severe, causing terrible pain, as well as flu-like symptoms, and even inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain .

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Pain And/or Itching In Or Around The Blisters

Lesions are usually very painful to touchespecially during the first herpes outbreak, which tends to be more severe. The main thing that brings women into the office with herpes is pain, says Dr. Shirazian. Bumps that you find just by chance when sudsing up in the shower or toweling off probably arent herpes. Herpes lesions will make themselves known and felt, she says. They can also itch, especially as they begin to scab over and heal.

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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.

Support And Advice For Genital Herpes

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If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.

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What It Means For Partners

Your partner has genital herpes. Your support is very important in helping you and your partner to understand what this means. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the herpes infection. In the meantime, here are answers to some questions you may have.

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.

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Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About

A surprising number of people you know probably have herpes.

Shocked? You shouldnt be, since the virus is very common. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 thats 67 percent of the global population in that age bracket. Another 417 million people between ages 15 and 49 worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 2 .

Many people consider HSV-1 more benign, but it turns out theres not much difference between the two types of virus. While its true that HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause genital sores or blisters, type 1 can do the same thing.

One big misconception is that cold sores are caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes are always type 2, but thats not always the case, says Sarah Vensel, a physician assistant in San Francisco. Cold sores are so common theyve been normalized at this point. But genital herpes is sometimes the exact same virus just in a different location.

Not only is herpes incredibly common its also totally manageable. Allow us to set your mind at ease and debunk three widespread herpes myths:

Oral Herpes And Cold Sores

GRAPHIC IMAGES

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.

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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.

Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic

You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.

Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.

Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.

They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.

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Take Care During Pregnancy

A woman who gets genital herpes while she is pregnant could pass the infection to her baby during delivery. Herpes can make newborns seriously ill.

If you are pregnant, follow these steps:

  • Tell your doctor if you have been exposed to genital herpes or have had an outbreak in the past.
  • Let your doctor know if you are currently having an outbreak, especially if you are in the last part of your pregnancy.
  • Avoid unsafe sex. Herpes is often transmitted by people who dont know they are infected and dont have symptoms. Use condoms.
  • Avoid receiving oral sex from partners who have cold sores. Herpes in newborns can be caused by HSV-1, the virus that most commonly causes cold sores. Most experts advise pregnant women not to receive oral sex in the last 3 months of their pregnancy. It increases their risk of genital infection with HSV-1.

Antiviral medicine can be used safely in pregnancy to reduce the risk of an outbreak at the time of delivery. This lower risk, in turn, makes it less likely that delivery by caesarean section will be needed.

How Likely Is It That I Now Have Genital Herpes Too

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That depends on several things, including whether you and your partner always use a condom and how long youve been sexually intimate with each other.

If youve had sex only once or twice, and if you used a condom each time, the risk is lower than if youve had unprotected sex for a long time. But you could have been infected during any one encounter.

Even if youve never seen herpes sores on your partners genitals or your own, you still might have it. The symptoms of genital herpes are often subtle are easy to mistake for something else, like bug bites, pimples, razor burn, or hemorrhoids. Also, the virus can be contagious even when there are no symptoms.

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Treatment For Genital Herpes

There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.

Symptoms can be improved by:

  • ice packs to the affected area
  • pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
  • antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.

Myth #: People Cannot Spread Herpes To Others Unless They Have Sores Or Blisters

Fact: People can spread herpes to others at any time, including when they do not have any symptoms.

People with herpes may experience outbreaks and remissions. During an outbreak, a person has active sores or blisters, but in remission, they may have no symptoms at all.

The virus is usually more contagious when a person has an outbreak, but it can also spread when it is in remission.

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What To Do After Testing Positive For Genital Herpes

If a person tests positive for genital herpes, its recommended that they speak with a doctor. Although theres no cure for herpes, it can be treated through antiviral medication. Antiviral medication can help reduce the severity of recurring outbreaks .

Frequent, severe recurring outbreaks might be a sign of a compromised immune system. If outbreaks are occurring often, a doctor might investigate whether theres an underlying issue affecting the immune system.

Having sex is OK if theres a genital herpes diagnosis, but its best to avoid sex if theres a herpes outbreak. To reduce the chances of transmitting HSV to a partner, use barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams during all sexual activity.

Genital herpes does not always require treatment. However, genital warts can be painful. Antiviral treatments can reduce the symptoms and severity of outbreaks.

In rare cases, herpes can cause complications. Generally, though, it does not get worse over time.

Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes

Help! Is this herpes? Blister outbreak

If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner about their risk. 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 health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.

A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.

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I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes

Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.

Myth: You Always Get A Herpes Outbreak Soon After Becoming Infected

Herpes is a sneaky infection. It can exist in the body for months or even years without showing symptoms, but its still contagious nonetheless.

If you do develop an outbreak, it will most likely happen two to twelve days after initial exposure to the virus. After the blisters break, they can take up to four weeks to heal.

Fortunately, subsequent outbreaks tend to be less intense. Recurring outbreaks are common but dont last nearly as long. These sores tend to heal within three to seven days, and the number of outbreak periods may even decrease over time.

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