Genital herpes is a STD caused by two types of viruses. The viruses are called herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2.
- Genital herpes is common in the United States. In the United States, about one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.
- You can get herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease.
- Fluids found in a herpes sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection.
- You can get herpes from an infected sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected because the virus can be released through your skin and spread the infection to your sex partner(s).
- The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results;
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
- Herpes symptoms can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered by a latex condom. However, outbreaks can also occur in areas that are not covered by a condom so condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
- Most people who have herpes have no, or very mild symptoms. You may not notice mild symptoms or you may mistake them for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people who have herpes do not know it.
- Genital herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take weeks to heal. These symptoms are sometimes called "having an outbreak." The first time someone has an outbreak they may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or swollen glands.
- You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD, such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or, for women specifically, bleeding between periods.
- Often times, your healthcare provider can diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore(s) and test it.
- Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for herpes or other STDs.
- There is no cure for herpes. However, there are medicines that can prevent or shorten outbreaks. One of these herpes medicines can be taken daily, and makes it less likely that you will pass the infection on to your sex partner(s).
For more information on genital herpes, click here