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Genital Herpes
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Genital herpes

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

MEN'S HEALTH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Genital herpes is a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. The cause is a strain of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus enters your body through small breaks in your skin or mucous membranes.

The illness is characterized by pain, itching and sores in your genital area. Sexual contact is the primary way that genital HSV spreads. It's almost impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels or other objects used by an infected person because the virus dies quickly outside the body.

Genital herpes is common. In the past 25 years, the incidence of genital herpes has risen 30 percent.

HSV affects both men and women. There's no cure for this recurrent infection, which often causes embarrassment and emotional distress. Having genital herpes is no reason to avoid sex or give up on relationships though. If you or your partner is infected, you can manage the spread of HSV by taking steps to protect yourself and your partner. Open communication with your partner or potential partner is important.

Signs and symptoms

Many people who've been infected with HSV never know they have the disease because they have no symptoms. Or their symptoms are so mild they go unnoticed.

When present, signs and symptoms of genital herpes may include:

  • Pain or itching in the skin around your genital area

  • Pain in your buttocks or leg

  • Small, red bumps, blisters (vesicles) or open sores (ulcers)

The initial symptom of genital herpes is pain or itching, beginning two to 10 days after exposure to the virus. After several days, small, red bumps may appear. They then rupture, becoming ulcers that ooze or bleed. After three to four days, scabs form and the ulcers heal.

In women, sores can erupt in the vaginal area, external genitals, buttocks, anus or cervix. In men, sores can appear on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs or inside the urethra, the channel between the bladder and the penis.

While you have ulcers, it may be painful to urinate. You may also experience pain and tenderness in your genital area until the infection clears. During an outbreak, you may have flu-like signs and symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches and fever, as well as swollen lymph nodes in your groin.

Genital herpes is different for each person. The signs and symptoms may recur for years. Some people experience numerous episodes every year. For most people, however, the outbreaks are less frequent. It's estimated that the average number of outbreaks annually is four or five. Various factors may trigger outbreaks, including:

  • Stress

  • Menstruation

  • Poor nutrition

  • Illness

  • Surgery

  • Friction, such as that caused by vigorous sexual intercourse

In some cases, the infection can be active and contagious even when lesions aren't present. 

Other related Sites:

Genital herpes > next > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 

 



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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:51 AM