Genital herpes is a fairly widespread disease that is most often spread from person to person through sexual contact. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 17% of Americans between the ages of 14 and 49 have genital herpes.
The disease is caused by one of two viruses known as herpes simplex type 1 or type 2. If you have sexual contact, either orally, vaginally or anally, with somebody who has the disease, you run the risk of being infected.
One of the problems with genital herpes is that it can be present without any symptoms being apparent. A person without symptoms can still transmit genital herpes to another person.
The disease can manifest itself through the appearance of blisters that eventually break to become sores. The fluid from the blisters and sores carries the virus, and contact with it can result in infection. The blisters usually occur in the genital area, the mouth area or the area around the rectum.
Symptoms disappear after a period of time, which can be several weeks, but often recur periodically throughout the infected person’s life. Outbreaks of symptoms tend to be quite frequent in the twelve months immediately after becoming infected. Outbreaks tend to diminish in frequency after the first year. Second and subsequent outbreaks usually clear up more quickly than the initial outbreak.
Many people infected with genital herpes experience other symptoms during the first outbreak of the blisters. These can include glands swelling, fever, and aches throughout the body. These extra symptoms are very similar to flu symptoms.
Curing genital herpes
At present, there is no known cure for genital herpes. However, there are treatments available to reduce the length of an outbreak, or prevent one from happening in the first place. These treatments can help to prevent the disease being spread to the patient’s sexual partner. These treatment methods include antivirals like Famvir or Valcyclovir. An entire cottage industry supporting natural methods of treatment provides some alternative treatment possibilities. Genital herpes is, in the final analysis, not completely curable. In the video below, the truth about genital herpes treatment is discussed.
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Is genital herpes dangerous?
In general, the disease is not harmful to a person’s overall well-being, but there can be exceptions. Those people who have weakened immune systems can experience very painful outbreaks.
Additionally, if the disease is present in, or contracted by, a pregnant woman, it can cause problems for the unborn child. The baby can be infected with genital herpes during a natural birth, and may die as a result.
The risk of a baby being infected is lower if the mother was infected before becoming pregnant, or if she gets infected quite early in the pregnancy. That risk increases significantly if the mother becomes infected late in the pregnancy, or if she is suffering an outbreak of blistering or sores.
If the mother has been diagnosed with genital herpes, medical staff will check for the presence of sores near delivery time. If there are symptoms present, the mother may be advised to have a Cesarean section.
Does using a condom prevent getting or transmitting genital herpes?
Using a condom may reduce the risk of getting or transmitting genital herpes, but it will not always prevent it from happening. This is because the virus can exist in body areas that are not covered by a condom.