What is Genital Herpes?
Genital Herpes is a virulent, extremely common sexually transmitted disease. The reason for its notoriety is that it is becoming more and more prevalent among all socio economic groups around the world. This would indicate that people have not taken heed of the medical health warnings to use prophylactic measures whilst having sexual intercourse, especially with casual partners of either sex.
The Herpes Simplex Virus-2 or HSV-2 causes the infection, can easily be identified, by blister type sores around the genital and anal areas.
Herpes Simplex Virus-1 or HSV-1 is the viral infection, which presents as cold sores around the mouth and face.
Although considered a milder form, Herpes Simplex Virus 1 can mutate if not treated early, and become the genital herpes, HSV-2.
Genital Herpes is not always evident and people who have the disease often are unaware of it or ignorant of the fact that it is sexually transmitted and highly virulent. Often the symptoms are mild enough not to cause pain, discomfort or any other form of attention, and the disease is left untreated, until severe inflammation is visible to the sufferer.
HSV-1 shows as itchy, sore blisters and is easily identified and very treatable if it is not left unchecked.
The Genital Herpes indicators are tender or painful blistering round the genitals and anus. This area becomes painful and can move from being localized to spreading to the general urinary tract region. The sufferer will then feel nauseous, and quite ill. They will also suffer pain and a burning sensation whilst urinating.
The symptoms are often flu-like, accompanied by nausea and fever. The genital area becomes extremely painful to the touch and the aching experienced, throughout the lower body. The cyclical, blister, sore, scab process of the virus, takes days or weeks to clear. The swollen lymph nodes and fever can become quite debilitating to sufferers of genital herpes.
The next stage of genital herpes enters a dormant stage in the nerve, which supplies the sense of feeling in the affected region. The dormant virus is now able to mutate and become active again at regular intervals, presenting the sufferer with the same symptoms and discomfort as before.
The early warning signs that the virus has returned, indicated by sufferers, is a tingling or itching and sometimes a painful sensation in the genital region. After this, the patient will, once again, present with blisters and sores to the genitals.
There is no set pattern relating to the severity of the symptoms upon each recurrence. They vary, but almost, always, involve pain and discomfort, followed by suppurating blisters and sores.
Who is at Risk?
This is a sexually transmitted disease. Therefore, everyone who is sexually active is at risk. There is higher risk involved when partners are frequent and varied. There is also an extremely high risk when partners show an irresponsible attitude to sexually transmitted disease by having sex with the disease and without the use of a condom. Casual sex should never, be taken lightly, the likelihood of contracting herpes or any other sexually transmitted disease is ever greater without prophylactics.
Unborn infants are at risk of contracting neonatal herpes, by pregnant mothers infected with genital herpes. It occurs when the mother is experiencing the first episode of the infection during childbirth. This can be life threatening to the child. However, it is not a common occurrence in the United Kingdom. Women, who have had any form of recurring herpes prior to getting pregnant, are at minimal risk of passing the infection to their unborn child.
How do you get it?
As with all sexually transmitted diseases, Genital Herpes is passed from one person to another through sexual contact. This means, if a person with the virus, whether dormant or not, has sex with a non-infected person and they do not use a contraceptive or prophylactic device, the disease will be passed on during the course of sexual intercourse.
Secondly, if a person has one or other of the herpes viruses, they are just as likely to pass it on to a sexual partner just by kissing or having oral sex.
The virus is ever present, even when it is in a dormant stage and therefore not visible. This means that the danger of passing it on is ever-present too.
The Lasting Effects of Genital Herpes
When this disease is dormant, it will not show any visible signs of being in the body at all. However, that does not mean that the virus is unviable: it is still, easily transmitted during sexual intercourse. Often this happens and sometimes, unknowingly, the sufferer believes that what is not visible is obviously not there. Nothing could be further from the truth. The herpes virus can remain dormant for years.
Both forms of the HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus are cyclical. They remain dormant and recur during times of high stress or excitement, often when the sufferer has a fever from an unrelated illness. For men and women, the initial symptom indicator of the disease recurring is much like in its nascent form, of having genital herpes may begin with a tingling and itching feeling round the genital areas. The genital region becomes inflamed, cracked, and raw, followed by blisters. The feeling of itching or tingling in the buttocks, rectum and thighs signals that blisters are forming there too. In severe cases, these blisters erupt within the urethra, causing severe pain discomfort.
Cracked, red and raw areas in the genital areas may also occur. In some cases, a tingling or itching sensation within the anal region may also occur. The next symptom that follows is the breakout of small blisters. As earlier indicated, these blisters will eventually open to become highly painful cold sores. These cold sores can appear within the genital areas as well as on the rectal, thigh and buttocks areas. In some rare cases, these sores can appear inside the urethra, the tube wherein the urine passes through while going out of the body. Other symptoms of genital herpes include headaches, back pain and fatigue.
I you have any of the symptoms described, or are in any doubt about whether you are suffering from a sexually transmitted disease like genital herpes, you must seek medical advice as soon as possible.