What is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but unlike Chlamydia or Gonorrhoea, it can’t be treated with antibiotics. This is because herpes is a viral infection, caused by the HSV virus. The HSV1 virus is what everyone knows as cold sores, passed through kissing and sharing objects like toothbrushes or razors.
Although, it’s actually the HSV2 virus that causes genital herpes, which can show itself as painful sores on the surface of the skin, that blister and then heal again. However, a lot of people experience no symptoms at all and live a perfectly normal life without even realising they have the infection.
The condition is passed from person to person through unprotected sexual intercourse (including oral sex) and so it’s advised to always use condoms to avoid contracting the infection.
What Causes Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is caused by the HSV2 virus and is passed on through sexual intercourse or other skin-to-skin contact. The infection can remain inactive for large amounts of time, however it’s still highly infectious and so even people without visible sores and blisters could still have (and pass on) genital herpes. Because it’s the same virus, you can also catch genital herpes by receiving oral sex from someone with a cold sore (oral herpes).
If you have contracted the condition, you will notice that it’s generally cyclic, and sufferers can experience outbreaks that typically last for up to 3 weeks, before the virus lies dormant again. The initial outbreak can often be more severe, with symptoms lessening on the recurring occasions. You should be able to notice certain triggers such as a weakened immune system, a poor diet and feeling stressed or anxious.
How can I treat Genital Herpes?
Currently, there is no known cure for herpes (genital or otherwise) and so if you catch the disease, it will be a case of managing it, rather than clearing it completely. Cloud Pharmacy have treatments available to help you with the symptoms and to help keep the infection under control.
As well as medication, you will need to consider your lifestyle and in particular, your sex life. While you have active sores, you should steer clear of sex completely until the outbreak has cleared again. After that, any sex you do have should be protected and your partner should be aware that herpes could still be passed on, whether or not you currently have sores or blisters. You also need to be extra careful if you are pregnant, as herpes can be passed on to your baby and make it seriously ill.
Standard STI tests don’t look for herpes, so you will need to be specifically tested for it in order to be diagnosed. Once you know you have genital herpes, you will be able to keep an eye out for triggers and work to manage the condition. Unlike other STI’s, herpes does not carry an increased risk of infertility or cervical cancer, so it’s just a case of controlling the symptoms.