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Genital herpes

Please note that some of the language in this article is sexually explicit.

Genital herpes

This is a viral infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus of which there a two different types which infect the genitals, anal and buttocks:-

  1. HSV type1       Causes cold sores and genital sores/herpes

  2. HSV type2       Causes mainly genital herpes but does infect the mouth

One of the primary problems with this virus is that people often do not realise that they have the herpes virus or indeed that they are passing it on to other sexual partners. In quite a lot of people the symptoms are so mild that they are not even aware that they have the condition.

Apparently in the UK we are more fortunate than other countries as according to the Herpes Virus Association statistics, by the age of 15 - 25% of the population have HSV1 and by the time they are 30- 50%. The HSV2 virus affects 25% of the sexually active population and between 3-10% of the total population.

Symptoms can consist of:

  • Flu like symptoms

  • Itching- around the genitals

  • Tingling –around the genitals

  • Burning or pain– when passing urine

  • Small fluid blisters – or sores

The initial outbreak can between 2-14 days after being infected and can continue for a few weeks. After this initial out break the virus can seem to disappear, it is lying dormant it will always be present in the body and will reoccur at different time intervals over the years, usually in a milder form.

Diagnosis and treatment:

The doctor will examine the genital area and takes swabs of any sores which are present there may possibly be an internal examination for women.

As there is no cure for herpes but the symptoms can be managed:

  1. Antiviral medicines can be taken within the first 72 hours of the initial infection but for reoccurrences after the symptoms are usually reduced.

  2. Ensure you wash you hands thoroughly if you touch the affected area

  3. Do not have sexual contact during an outbreak

  4. Take pain relief medication if necessary

  5. Drink plenty of fluids to dilute the urine

  6. Bath the area in a  salt water solution as it is  soothing

  7. Rest, do not become stressed or anxious

The emotional effect that contracting herpes has is sometimes of deep concern to people, it is not the end of sexual relationships. The misguided stigma with which any STI is associated can still affect people today and there are counselling services that can help you with any worries or concerns you may have and will speak with you confidentially.

Helpline for - Herpes Virus Association - 0845 123 2305

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