Genital Herpes

1. What is Genital herpes and how can I get diagnosed?

Genital herpes is one of the common sexually transmitted diseases. It is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 and it is known to be lifelong infection and periodic recurrent infections.

2. What are the symptoms?

Outbreak consists of single or clustered vesicles on the genitalia, perineum, buttocks, upper thighs, or perianal areas that ulcerate with or without other symptoms of pain, burning, or sometimes itching before resolving. However, it can be asymptomatic for many patients.

3. How can genital herpes be transmitted? What are the causes?

It is known to be caused by type 2 herpes simplex virus. However, the incidence of primary genital infection with herpes simplex virus type 1 (which is a cause of oral herpes) is now as common as herpes simplex virus type 2 in the United States.

Oral herpes caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 can spread from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex. Therefore, some cases of genital herpes are due to herpes simplex virus type 1.

It is usually spread by direct contact with someone who is positive for herpes simplex virus, through vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

It can be also transmitted through direct contact with someone who has

  • Visible sores/blisters by Herpes simplex virus
  • Direct contact to skin in the oral area of a sexual partner with oral herpes
  • Direct contact to skin in the genital area of a sexual partner with genital herpes
  • Oral secretion/Saliva from a sexual partner with an oral herpes
  • Genital secretion/discharge from a sexual partner with genital herpes
  • Sexual partner who does not have a visible sore and is unaware of their infection.
4. What is the treatment for genital herpes? Does the medication cure genital herpes?

The treatment is antiviral medication such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir or Famciclovir.

There is no cure for genital herpes. However, taking antiviral medication as a suppression plan with a daily antiviral medication prevents or shortens outbreaks. It can also make it less likely to transmit the infection on to your sex partner.

Even though the medication resolves the symptoms, the herpes virus stays in your body (hiding in nerve cells) even when you do not have genital herpes. If the virus becomes active again, it causes genital herpes to reactivate, causing recurrent genital herpes.

Here are some factors to contribute to such recurrence of genital herpes.

  • Any illness such as flu or cold
  • extreme temperature changes either hot or freezing weather
  • Stressful events in life
  • Physical or psychological trauma, again causing stress or affecting immune system
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Weakened immune system