What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes refers to an infection on the genital area, which is caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is a commonly sexually transmitted disease (STD) amongst young people. There are two types of HSV - HSV type 1 and type 2.
HSV type 1 is spread through skin-to-skin contact, and often leads to cold sores and blisters in the oral region such as lips and tongue. It can also spread through oral sex, leading to cold sores in the genital region.
HSV type 2 commonly spreads through sexual intercourse via skin-to-skin contact.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
Some infected patients may not even realise they have it as they do not experience any symptoms. For those with symptoms, they usually start two days to two weeks after infection. They may experience pain or itching or notice blisters where the infection occurs, such as the genital or oral region. Patients may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite or sore throat. After some time, even without treatment, the blisters may go away on their own.
Is herpes curable? What are the treatment options available?
Unfortunately, herpes is not curable. However, oral antiviral medications may relieve the symptoms or stop them from getting worse.
What are the chances of recurrence?
We don't know. The chances of recurrence vary per person, but if the blisters were to come back, oral medications may shorten the duration.
How do I prevent herpes?
You are recommended to use barrier protection when having sexual intercourse with partners of unknown status. These include dental dams and condoms.
If your partner has herpes, have an honest and open conversation with him/her/them. Avoid having sexual intercourse with them until the blisters have healed and/or they have completed treatment.
What if I have herpes and am pregnant?
You should discuss with your physician about treatment options. Usually, you will be started on antiviral medication. It is important for herpes to be treated during pregnancy as untreated herpes in the mother may lead to neonatal herpes which has severe health concerns such as birth abnormalities and even death.
For more information, check out: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/genital-herpes/, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/genital-herpes/symptoms-causes/syc-20356161