Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease for which there is no cure. The herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 usually infects the mouth area, although it can affect the genitals as well, and it may be noticeable as blisters or cold sores. HSV 2 most often infects the genital and anal area. When symptoms occur, they are called outbreaks. When a person becomes infected with this virus, the first symptoms will typically appear within two weeks.
Someone who has contracted genital herpes may have a variety of symptoms, including sores where the virus has entered the body. These usually appear on the rectal, genital or mouth area. Some people also notice very small, red bumps that can become itchy and turn into blisters, but they may also disappear.
The sores may also appear elsewhere on the body, such as on broken skin where the virus may have entered the body. They can also appear inside an infected woman's vagina or on the cervix, and they may also appear in the urinary passage of both men and women. With the first outbreak, the patient may experience difficulty urinating, muscle pains, fever, vaginal discharge, and swollen glands in the genital area. These symptoms may not appear during later outbreaks.
The symptoms of genital herpes are different in different people. Some infected people have very mild outbreaks, while others have no symptoms at all. Nevertheless, once infected, a person with the virus can pass on the disease very easily, through either sexual intercourse or oral sex. It can also be passed on through skin-on-skin contact with broken skin.
It should be stressed that herpes is not a life threatening infection, and it is a very common sexually transmitted disease. Research has shown that one out of five teenagers and adults in America are infected with genital herpes, including one in four women. In the last 30 years, infection in young adults and teenagers has risen by 30%.
Although herpes is an incurable disease, there are medicines available to help with outbreaks, treat the symptoms, and decrease the risk of passing on the virus. There are also counseling services available in order to help patients talk through any anxieties they may have after contracting the infection.