Genital herpes

Knowledge about

Herpes is a virus that many humans cannot avoid. Studies show according to WHO that up to 80% of the adult population is infected with herpes, but only 20% of those infected experience repeated outbreaks. Herpes is a virus that goes dormant after the first outbreak, which is called the primary infection.

There are generally two different types of herpes. HSV, Herpes Simplex Virus type 1, also called herpes labialis. This is the most frequent type and appears as cold sores or small blisters on the face, throat, mouth, eyes or near the nose. HSV, Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 is known as genital herpes and appears on or near the genitals. App. 20% of all human beings with herpes is infected with type 2. This type can be found on the genitals, balls and thighs, and some also experience herpes on the penis or herpes in the vagina. Read more about Herpes Genitalis.

Who can get infected with genital herpes?

Herpes is unfortunately highly contagious, and anybody without antibodies can become infected. If you have antibodies, it is a sign showing that you already have the virus in your body.

The primary infection of herpes genitalis is always the most serious. And the body forms antibodies at this very first stage. If a pregnant woman becomes infected and experiences an outbreak during pregnancy, the child most likely be infected. If it is a reactivation of herpes on the genitals, which means not the very first infection of herpes, the child will most often be protected by antibodies from the mother, and then the risk of infection is very small.

How do you get genital herpes?

Genital herpes is transmitted through sexual contact. More specific, the virus infects mostly when it is in outbreak. Infection also occurs, even if a person does not experience symptoms because the virus is in the body. Especially with herpes in the abdomen, there is a high risk of infection, although you may not be aware of this.

The infection occurs when skin or mucous membranes comes in contact. And although it would be easy  to use a condom to ensure that herpes on the penis or in the vagina is not transmitted, this is not the case, but it will reduce the risk of infection.

Can herpes spread from the mouth to the genitals?

Herpes can be transmitted through contact between the mouth and genitals. Sex poses a serious risk of infection, that means that herpes 1 on the lips can easily be transmitted to the genitals. If a person with herpes labialis performs oral sex on their partner, there is a serious risk of infection from the mouth to the genitals.

However, research shows that people with HSV-2 are partially protected from getting HSV-1. If you do not have herpes, there is a risk of infection with both HSV-1 and HSV-2, but if you have herpes on the genitals, HSV-2, you will have a strong immune system and only a small risk of getting HSV-1, for example oral sex or kissing.

How is genital herpes treated?

There is no medicine that can cure this virus. It settles in a number of nerve cells and remain in the body for the rest of your life. There are medicines against herpes on the genitals that can inhibit HSV and reduce the risk of repeated outbreaks and infection.

Medical treatment of herpes on the genitals is handled through your own doctor. If you have many and serious outbreaks you may need a prescription drug such as aciclovir. The medicine helps to relieve the symptoms. Aciclovir is to be taken from the very start of an outbreak. If the outbreak is one or two days old the medicine does not help. Aciclovir stops the virus´s ability to multiply and it is in the first stage of the disease that the multiplication goes on. How much and how long to take medicine depends on how often new outbreaks are experienced. If there is a tendency for this to happen often, it will be necessary to take medicine every day over a long period of time. But all this you must see your doctor about new blisters continue to appear. If subsequent outbreaks occur, medication should ideally start within 24 hours of the first symptoms appearing.

All prescription drugs against herpes work by inhibiting the reproduction of the Herpes virus and therefore only work during the period when the virus is multiplying, which is only during the very first initial phase of an outbreak. When the blisters stop to appear, the virus does not multiply anymore. It is very important to start the treatment immediately otherwise there will be no effect. The medicine also has a number of reported side effects, so you have to think about it and weigh the pros and cons before starting a treatment.

There are a variety of over-the-counter products that effectively help prevent, alleviate and treat herpes outbreaks. Some in the form of gel or cream against herpes on the lips and on the genitals. These are milder than the prescription drugs but just as effective, and can be obtained over the counter, just as our products on this page.

How long does genital herpes last?

Herpes on the genitals is contagious all the time. As mentioned, the risk is much greater when herpes is in an outbreak, and here the increased risk of infection will last as long as the virus is in an outbreak. Especially for HSV-2, there is a greater risk of infection all the time, and therefore it is good to choose a medical treatment. The doctors prescribe sexual abstinence when you have herpes in outbreak, this is the very best way of not spreading the contagious disease. Some uses a condom if they are not certain that they do not have herpes and it is very important that you treat your sexual partner with respect and that you are honest and talk about the situation.

Because herpes genitalis occurs in the vagina or on the external genitals, the risk of infection is severe. It is not possible to avoid being exposed to infection if your partner does not know or does not tell you.

What does genital herpes feel like?

It depends on how severe the outbreaks are and whether it is the primary infection or secondary outbreaks.

With the primary infection, you will experience the strongest symptoms of herpes on the genitals. The genitals will be red, swollen and sore, and there will be a lot of small blisters on the genitals that can be very painful. The blisters will become sores when they burst and then covered with scabs. Many people experience a number of symptoms that resemble a common flu. It can be headache, muscle pain or fever. A burning sensation may also be experienced when urinating, and this is especially true if it is herpes in the vagina or herpes in and on the penis.

If HSV-2 flares up again, the symptoms will often be milder. The small blisters will reappear and the affected area will be tender and swollen. However, the number of blisters and sores will be reduced, and far fewer will experience fever or other flu symptoms during secondary outbreaks.