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Genital herpes

Genital herpes: Introduction

Genital herpes is an extremely common type of sexually transmitted disease. As many as one in five teens and adults have genital herpes.

Genital herpes is the result of a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2. Genital herpes is passed from one person another during sexual contact that involves touching of the genitals or vaginal or anal sex. Less commonly, oral sex can pass on the related virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, which causes cold sores. Exposure to herpes simplex virus type 1 can also result in the development of genital herpes.

Any person that engages in sexual activity can contract and pass on a genital herpes infection. This includes heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual men and women. The more sexual partners a person has, the greater the risk of catching a genital herpes infection.

Genital herpes can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal delivery. This is very dangerous for an infant and can lead to death because the newborn's immune system in not yet fully developed.

Other people at risk for serious complications of genital herpes are those who have impaired or compromised immune systems. They include people with HIV/AIDS or those who have had chemotherapy. A serious complication for all people with genital herpes is an increased risk of for contracting HIV.

Typical symptoms of genital herpes include outbreaks of blisters in the genital area. However, symptoms can vary and not every person with genital herpes will have symptoms. For more details about other important symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of genital herpes.

A diagnosis of genital herpes begins by taking a medical and sexual history, performing simple genital herpes testing, and completing a physical examination. This includes a pelvic examination for women and an exam of the penis and testicles for men. During the examination, the health care practitioner will assess the reproductive organs and take a swab sample of any herpes blisters or lesions, which is tested for the presence of genital herpes.

A blood test may also be done to test for the specific antibodies that are produced by the immune system in response to a genital herpes infection.

Because people with genital herpes are at an increased risk of catching other sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV/AIDS, other tests may be done to check for these diseases.

In many cases, there are no symptoms of genital herpes, so people with the disease are often unaware of a problem. Because of this a diagnosis of genital herpes infection can be missed or delayed. In addition, when symptoms do occur, they can resemble symptoms of other diseases. For more information on other diseases that can mimic genital herpes, refer to misdiagnosis of genital herpes.

The first step in the treatment of genital herpes infection is prevention. Prevention of genital herpes infection is best accomplished by abstaining from sexual activity or having sex only within a mutually monogamous relationship in which neither partner is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Latex condoms also provide some protection when used properly.

Genital herpes is not curable, but prompt diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent serious complications, improve the quality of life, and minimize the spread of the disease to others. Genital herpes can be controlled to various degrees with medications and other measures. For more information on medications and other treatments, refer to treatment of genital herpes. ...more »

Genital herpes: Genital Herpes is a common, sexually transmitted disease that affects the genitals and/or anus. It is an infectious condition, caused by viruses, known as herpes simplex viruses (HSVs). Genital herpes is highly contagious through sexual contact involving the genitals. Genital herpes infection can remain in the body indefinitely for long periods without symptoms. When there is an episode or "flare up" of genital herpes symptoms, they may include blisters to the genitalia and anus. Blisters break open, leaving sores (ulcers) that may take several weeks to heal. About one out of five adolescents and adult in the U.S. have had HSV infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Genital herpes infection may make people more susceptible to HIV infection, and it can make people with HIV more infectious. ...more »

Genital herpes: Symptoms

Symptoms of genital herpes infection can vary among individuals. It is not unusual for both men and women with genital herpes to have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

In the early stage of the disease, two to six days after exposure to the herpes simplex virus, there may be vague symptoms, such as fever, headache, or a general feeling of malaise or not feeling well. There ...more symptoms »

Genital herpes: Treatments

Treatment of genital herpes infection starts with prevention. Preventive measures include seeking regular medical care throughout the lifetime. Regular medical care allows a licensed health care professional to best evaluate symptoms and the risks of contracting genital herpes and test for the disease as needed.

These measures greatly increase the chances of promptly diagnosing and ...more treatments »

Genital herpes: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of genital herpes can be missed or delayed because there are often no symptoms. When there are symptoms, they can mild or vague and similar to other diseases. Symptoms, such as headache, swollen lymph glands, fever, chills, and fatigue can mimic symptoms of a bacterial infection or other viral infections, such as ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Genital herpes

Treatments for Genital herpes

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax®) - an antiviral drug
  • Famciclovir (Famvir®)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex®)
  • Keep area clean and dry
  • Avoid touching sores
  • more treatments...»

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Genital herpes:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Genital herpes?

Genital herpes: Related Patient Stories

Genital herpes: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Genital herpes.

Alternative Treatments for Genital herpes

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Genital herpes may include:

  • Lysine
  • Avoid dietary arginine (whole-wheat food, corn, dairy products, raisins, nuts, oatmeal and seeds)
  • Olive leaf extract
  • more treatments »

Curable Types of Genital herpes

Possibly curable types of Genital herpes include:

Rare Types of Genital herpes:

Rare types of Genital herpes include:

Genital herpes: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Genital herpes:

  • Mother-infant transmission (see Birth symptoms) - a fetus can catch herpes and the baby is born with herpes. The risk is greatest if the mother's first outbreak was during pregnancy. Later outbreaks still pose some risk to the fetus.
  • Neonatal HSV infection (type of Herpes)
  • Premature birth - a fetus with herpes is often delivered early.
  • Neonatal complications (see Birth symptoms) - a newborn may have various health problems.
  • Neonatal death (see Death) - some newborns with herpes have a poor prognosis.
  • more complications...»

Causes of Genital herpes

  • HSV type 1 - though less common than HSV type 2, the HSV-1 virus from cold sores can also cause genital herpes.
  • more causes...»

More information about causes of Genital herpes:

Disease Topics Related To Genital herpes

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Genital herpes:

Genital herpes: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Genital herpes

Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often go undiagnosed. The main problem is that psoriasis is rare in children, and not often seen more »

Genital herpes: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Genital herpes

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Genital herpes:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Genital herpes, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Latest Treatments for Genital herpes

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Genital herpes

Medical research articles related to Genital herpes include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Genital herpes: Animations

Prognosis for Genital herpes

Prognosis for Genital herpes: Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to go down over a period of years. (Source: excerpt from Genital Herpes: DSTD) ... HSV remains in certain nerve cells of the body for life, and can produce symptoms off and on in some infected people. (Source: excerpt from Genital Herpes, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Research about Genital herpes

Visit our research pages for current research about Genital herpes treatments.

Prevention of Genital herpes

Prevention information for Genital herpes has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Genital herpes.

Statistics for Genital herpes

Genital herpes: Broader Related Topics

Genital herpes Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Genital herpes, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Genital herpes

Genital Herpes: DSTD (Excerpt)

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV -1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first episode. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to go down over a period of years. (Source: excerpt from Genital Herpes: DSTD)

Genital Herpes, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV, and both can cause genital herpes. HSV type 1 most commonly infects the lips causing sores known as fever blisters or cold sores, but it also can infect the genital area and produce sores there. HSV type 2 is the usual cause of genital herpes, but it also can infect the mouth during oral sex. A person who has genital herpes infection can easily pass or transmit the virus to an uninfected person during sex. (Source: excerpt from Genital Herpes, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Definitions of Genital herpes:

An infection caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) that is usually transmitted by sexual contact; marked by recurrent attacks of painful eruptions on the skin and mucous membranes of the genital area - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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