Genital herpes is a viral infection that usually affects the genitals and anal areas of the body. It is a sexually transmitted disease that over 45 million people in the US are infected with. There are two types of the herpes virus, Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and HSV type 2. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV2. Genital herpes is a chronic illness which stays with the host for their lifetime, but may only show actually physical signs on their body a few times throughout their life. This makes it difficult to know if a person has the herpes virus or not. If signs are present, they are usually one or two blisters at the beginning that then break creating painful sores that take weeks to heal.
Many people believe that this STD is only contagious while the person actually has the sores present, but this is not true. A person infected with herpes can actually pass the virus to their partner at any time. If you are considering having intercourse with a person that is infected, it is best to ensure that you protect any part of your body from direct contact with the infected area on the body of the carrier. It is best to abstain from sex during an active outbreak, because it can be most contagious during this period. This disease does not have a cure; therefore, once you have it you have it for your entire lifetime. You may have long periods of time between outbreaks, but it is important to remember that you still have the active virus and can pass it on to a sexual partner at any time.
In many cases people are not even aware that they are infected with herpes. They can never show any physical signs, which makes it very easy to transmit to other people. If you do have signs of this disease they may include, inflamed skin around the sexual organs, itching or redness around the genitals, blisters on or around the genital area, and sores around the genital area that scab and take weeks to heal. The initial symptoms can be less obvious and include fever, swollen glands, headaches and muscle aches. If you are experiencing one of more of these symptoms after contact with a sexual partner who may be infected, it is important to get tested. The first outbreak of herpes is usually the most painful and severe. After the initial outbreak people can expect to have multiple outbreaks per year. On average people usually can expect around four outbreaks per year with the number of outbreaks diminishing over time.
Currently, there is no cure for herpes. Once you have the disease it is common to treat it with antiviral medications to reduce the frequency and duration of the outbreaks. Daily suppressive therapy can reduce transmission to sexual partners. The only way to prevent spreading herpes is by abstinence. If you continue to be sexually active it is important to protect your partner from exposure by wearing condoms and covering any infected areas. This disease can be very emotionally trying to both you and your partner. It is important to seek out psychological counseling if you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed by the diagnosis of this disease. There are professionals that can help you and your partner deal with the daily effects and emotional stress it can cause.