Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex viruses’ type 1 or type 2. Most people infected with genital herpes experience no symptoms or have very minor symptoms that go unnoticed, due to the symptoms being mistaken for another skin condition. The misdiagnosed/lack of symptoms, causes most people that are infected with genital herpes to be unaware of their infection. When symptoms do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters can break and leave painful sores that may take two to four weeks to heal. Experiencing these symptoms is sometimes referred to as having an “outbreak.” The first time someone has an outbreak, they may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, body aches and swollen glands.
During year one of infection, repeat outbreaks of genital herpes are common. The symptoms of repeat outbreaks are normally shorter in duration and less severe than the symptoms experienced during the first outbreak. Although the infection stays in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over time.
At this time, there is no treatment that can cure genital herpes. There is however different forms of medication that can shorten the length of an outbreak and reduce the pain experienced. Although these medications will decrease healing time, the herpes virus will never leave the body.
To prevent the infection of genital herpes, one should abstain from sexual activity all together or only have sexual contact with one person who has been tested and is infection free. Other ways to help prevent infection are to properly and consistently use a condom, limit the number of sex partners, and avoid intercourse with any partner during an outbreak.