What is herpes?
Herpes is the name of a group of viruses that cause painful blisters and sores. A type of herpes (herpes simplex virus) causes both cold sores in the area around the mouth and genital herpes. Shingles is another type of herpes and can cause chickenpox and shingles.
What about how I feel about having herpes?
It is common to feel guilty or ashamed when you receive a diagnosis of herpes. You may feel that your sex life is ruined or that someone you thought you could trust will be hurt. You may feel sad or upset.
Note that you are one of the millions of people who have herpes. Herpes may become less severe as time passes, and you can help protect your sex partner by not having sex during outbreaks. It is also important to use condoms at all other times. Talk to your family doctor about your feelings.
Tips on how to manage herpes
- Talk to your doctor if you think you may have herpes.
- Remember you are not alone. There are millions of people who have herpes.
- Stay healthy and limit stress.
- Do not touch the sores.
- Tell your sexual partners and use condoms.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
Symptoms may include painful sores in the genital area, itching, painful urination, vaginal discharge and lumps touch in the groin. During the first outbreak (called primary herpes), some people experience symptoms similar to flu-like body aches, fever and headache. Most people who have herpes infection will have outbreaks of sores and symptoms from time to time. Some women have herpes only on the cervix. In this case, outbreaks may cause few or no symptoms.
What happens when a person is infected?
Once you get infected by the virus goes through various stages of infection. In the following sections explain all stages.
This stage usually starts 2 to 8 days after you become infected, but can take much longer to start. Usually, the infection causes the appearance of groups of small, painful blisters. The fluid in the blisters may be crystalline or cloudy. The area under the blisters may be red. The blisters break open so easily that quickly become open sores. You may never notice the presence of blisters.
In addition to blisters or sores, you may feel pain when urinating. You may raise a fever, feel achy and have other symptoms like the flu.
While most people have a primary stage of infection that is painful, some have no symptoms and even may not be aware of their infection.
During this stage, there are no blisters, sores or other symptoms. At this point, the virus is traveling from the skin to nerves near the spine.
In the dissemination stage, the virus starts multiplying in the nerve endings. If the affected nerve endings are located in areas of the body that produce body fluids or in contact with them, the virus can enter these body fluids (saliva, semen or vaginal fluids). At this stage there are no symptoms, but during this time, the virus can spread.
How is genital herpes spread?
Genital herpes is usually spread from person to person during sexual intercourse, including oral sex with a person who has the infection. The virus can enter the body through a break in the skin or through the skin of the mouth, penis or vagina, urinary tract opening, cervix or anus. Herpes is most easily spread when blisters or sores are visible in the person who has the infection. But it can spread at any time, even when the person with herpes is not experiencing any symptoms.
Herpes can also spread from one place to another body such as the genitals to the fingers, eyes to other parts of the body.
Can a pregnant woman pass herpes to your unborn baby?
Yes a pregnant woman should tell her doctor if she have had genital herpes or if she ever had sex with someone who has had. Infants born to mothers who have an active genital herpes gives infection at birth or near that date of delivery. This can cause brain damage, blindness or even death in newborns.
Usually, the baby is safe inside the womb. When the baby passes through the birth canal, it could come into contact with the sores and infected by the herpes virus. If you have herpes or have had sex with a person who has had, your doctor may perform a caesarean section if you have an outbreak when you go into labor so the baby does not have to pass through the birth canal.