Herpes Transmission

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) typically caused by type 2 of the herpes virus.

Genital herpes is one of the most common STDs in the world. It is a viral infection that is spread by close contact with somebody who has herpes simplex virus, or HSV. Any sexually active person may contract genital herpes.

While it is not a life-threatening STD, it is incurable. Symptoms of genital herpes may include: genital itching, small breaks or red patches in the skin around the genitals, thighs or buttocks. It is also possible for you to have no symptoms, but still have the virus.

The initial outbreak, if symptoms occur, consists of flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, and general joint and muscle aches, and possibly genital discomfort. These symptoms may linger for days, during or after which they will notice reddened areas on the genitals which may turn into painful blisters, which eventually burst, crust over and generally to leave sores that will heal with no scarring left behind. The intensity of the initial outbreak varies between individuals, but for some it may be severe and last for up to three weeks if not treated. These symptoms generally quickly clear up with medication.

Genital herpes is spread through direct skin-to-skin, genital-to-genital or mouth-to genital contact. It is usually spread during intimate sexual contact. The virus is more likely to be passed if sex occurs during an active herpes outbreak. Since many people don't notice the genital herpes signs and symptoms, it is not always possible to detect an active outbreak. It is also possible to spread genital herpes even when no symptoms are present – in an instance known as asymptomatic shedding.

Chance of transmission is greater if there are any breaks in the skin.

Sores in other areas – like the buttocks and thighs – can be just as contagious as those in the genital area, and should be avoided.

During times when there is no outbreak, there is still a slight chance of transmission, even when signs of an outbreak are absent. If you or your partner has a fever blister, it is a good idea to abstain from oral sex because the virus may be passed to the genital area.

Contrary to popular belief, sharing cups, towels or bath water, and toilet seats are not ways genital herpes can be transmitted. Only skin to skin contact with the infected area can pass the virus. Normal activities like cuddling, sharing a bed, or kissing are safe.

A genital herpes diagnosis does not mean that you have to abstain from sex. It does mean, however, that you and your partner should take proper measures to reduce risk of transmitting the virus.

The chance of contracting genital herpes is reduced if latex condoms are used during sexual intercourse. Couples should abstain from sex during herpes outbreaks, because chance of transmission is increased. Engaging in sex during an outbreak actually irritates outbreaks and makes them last longer. In some cases, if both partners have genital herpes, they may agree that condom use is not necessary.

If you or your partner's outbreaks are frequent or severe, or if the recurrent outbreaks cause increased stress, then treatments that prevent or reduce the frequency of recurrences, should be considered.

Herbal treatments are worth looking into because they consist of compounds found in nature that have been proven to significantly reduce herpes outbreaks.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) typically caused by type 2 of the herpes virus.

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