Genital Herpes: What You Need to Know
Thinking you may have contracted genital herpes can be a nerve-racking experience, and maybe even a bit scary. The good news is, herpes is a manageable condition, and it won’t ruin your life. It’s also fairly common in the U.S., with about one out of every six people ages 14 to 49 having it, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Now that we’ve established you’re not alone, here’s the information about genital herpes you need to know.
What exactly is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is an STD caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of the virus, type 1 and type 2. Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the usual culprit when the virus shows up genitally, because that’s the “environment” where it prefers to live.
As for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), it infects most people orally, and shows up as cold sores around the mouth. The CDC states that more than half of people in the U.S. have HSV-1, and it’s typically contracted during childhood in a non-sexual way.
So, how did I get herpes?
Both herpes type 1 and 2 can be spread by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who’s infected. Using latex condoms does help reduce the chance of getting herpes, but since the virus often shows up in areas of the body not covered by a condom, it isn’t foolproof.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
Sores appearing as one or more blisters on/around the genitals or rectum typically signify herpes. These blisters may take weeks to heal after breaking open into sores, and this can be pretty painful. The first outbreak you experience is typically the worst, and the severity and length of outbreaks decreases from there on.
Most people have no or very mild symptoms, which is why a lot of people with genital herpes don’t even know they have it.
How is genital herpes treated then?
Antiviral medications are the best treatment for herpes currently. These meds can prevent or shorten outbreaks while you’re taking them. There’s also daily medication that can be taken to reduce the chance of transmitting herpes to others.
Because herpes is a virus, there is no cure, and it stays with you for life. The number of outbreaks you’ll experience decreases over the years though.
Where can I get tested for genital herpes or get more info?
In the Jamaica, NY area, we’ve got you covered. Herpes is generally diagnosed by looking at the symptoms, but a sample taken from a sore during an outbreak can also be tested. This is helpful in determining if you have HSV-1 or HSV-2.
An STD clinic or healthcare provider like Choices Women’s Medical can also give you further info on genital herpes, as well as answer any questions you may have. While it’s normal to feel embarrassed or ashamed, we don’t judge. We’re here to support you and your health.
Give us a call at 718-786-5000 to book an appointment, and we’ll help you get through this.