Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). According to WHO, It is estimated that over 500 million people worldwide are infected with genital herpes, and the prevalence of the infection is increasing. The virus is primarily spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
Once a person is infected, the virus remains in their body for life and can cause recurrent outbreaks of painful blisters or sores in the genital area. While genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medications, it can have a significant impact on a person’s physical and emotional well-being, as well as their sexual relationships.
Education and awareness are essential in preventing the spread of genital herpes and helping those affected to manage their symptoms and maintain a healthy and fulfilling life.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes symptoms can be mild or severe, and they can differ from person to person. Some people may experience only one outbreak in their lifetime, while others may experience multiple outbreaks.
It’s important to note that some people infected with genital herpes may not experience any symptoms at all, or they may mistake their symptoms for another condition such as a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection. That’s why getting tested regularly for STIs, including herpes, is important if you are sexually active.
- Painful sores or blisters around the genital area, anus, or mouth.
- Itching, burning, or tingling sensations in the affected area.
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen glands in the groin area.
- Pain or discomfort during urination or bowel movements.
- Vaginal discharge in women.
- Lesions or sores on or around the buttocks, thighs, or rectum.
During an outbreak, the virus causes painful blisters or sores around the genital area, anus, or mouth. These sores may be accompanied by itching, burning, or tingling sensations. In some cases, the lymph nodes in the groin area may become swollen and tender.
While the initial outbreak of genital herpes tends to be the most severe, subsequent outbreaks may be less severe and shorter in duration.
Causes of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. While both types can cause genital herpes, HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes.
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Genital herpes is usually spread through sexual contact with an infected person. The virus can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, even when no symptoms are present. It can also be transmitted through contact with herpes sores, genital fluids, or saliva.
Herpes can be passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be spread through skin-to-skin contact with the infected area, such as touching or rubbing the affected area.
Genital Herpes can be Reactivated
Once a person is infected with herpes, the virus can remain dormant in the body for years without causing any symptoms. However, it can reactivate and cause symptoms during periods of stress, illness, or hormonal changes. Reactivation of the virus can be triggered by a number of factors, including:
- Stress – emotional or physical stress can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections.
- Illness – being sick with a cold sore, flu, or other illness can also weaken the immune system and trigger a herpes outbreak.
- Hormonal changes – fluctuations in hormone levels, such as those that occur during menstruation or pregnancy, can also trigger an outbreak.
- Sexual activity – friction and irritation during sexual activity can cause herpes outbreaks in some people.
It’s important to note that herpes can be transmitted even when no symptoms are present, which is why it’s often referred to as a “silent” STI. That’s why using condoms and dental dams during sexual activity, and getting tested regularly for STIs, is important if you are sexually active.
Treatments for Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes, but antiviral medications can help to manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. You can consult with our top urologist
Dr. Zubair Ahmad Cheema to get your herpes treatment started.
These medications work by stopping the virus from replicating in the body.
The most commonly prescribed antiviral medications for genital herpes include:
- Acyclovir – Taken orally, applied as a cream, or injected, it is often used to treat initial outbreaks and to suppress recurrent outbreaks.
- Valacyclovir – This medication is taken orally and is converted to acyclovir in the body. It is often used to treat recurrent outbreaks and to suppress future outbreaks.
- Famciclovir – Also taken orally, famciclovir works in a similar way to acyclovir and valacyclovir. It is also used to treat and prevent outbreaks.
Antiviral medications are most effective when taken at the first sign of an outbreak or during the prodromal phase (the period before the blisters appear). They can also be used on a long-term basis to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks.
Other treatments that may help to alleviate symptoms of genital herpes include over-the-counter pain relievers, topical creams, and cool compresses. It is also important to keep the affected area clean and dry, avoid tight-fitting clothing, and practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Some people may find them helpful in combination with conventional treatment.
Natural Treatments that may Help with Genital Herpes
- Aloe vera – Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, which may help to reduce pain and inflammation caused by genital herpes. Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel directly to the affected area.
- Echinacea – Echinacea is an herb that is known for its immune-boosting properties. It may help to reduce the frequency and severity of genital herpes outbreaks. Take echinacea supplements or drink echinacea tea to boost your immune system.
- Lemon Balm – Lemon balm is a plant that has antiviral properties and may help to reduce the duration and severity of genital herpes outbreaks. Apply a lemon balm cream or ointment to the affected area.
- Lysine – Lysine is an amino acid that may help to prevent the replication of the herpes virus. Take lysine supplements or eat lysine-rich foods, such as dairy products, meat, and fish.
- Zinc – Zinc is a mineral that is essential for immune system function. It may help to reduce the duration and severity of genital herpes outbreaks. Take zinc supplements or eat zinc-rich foods, such as oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds.
People who are diagnosed with genital herpes should inform their sexual partners about their condition and take steps to reduce the risk of transmission, such as using condoms or abstaining from sexual activity during outbreaks. It is also important to get tested regularly for STIs and to follow a healthy lifestyle to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of outbreaks.
Preventing Genital Herpes
The best way to prevent genital herpes is to practice safe sex. This includes using condoms or dental dams during sexual activity, avoiding sexual contact with anyone who has visible symptoms of genital herpes, and getting tested for STIs on a regular basis.
People who are diagnosed with genital herpes should also inform their sexual partners about their condition and take steps to reduce the risk of transmission, such as abstaining from sexual activity during outbreaks.
While there is no cure for genital herpes, antiviral medications and other treatments can help to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission.
Practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly for STIs are important steps in preventing the spread of genital herpes. It is best to get onboard with a trusted general physician if you are experiencing any such symptoms. You can now book from Healthwire’s app or call us at 042 32500989 for instant appointment booking.