What is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is a common STD and caused by herpes virus. Most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it.
You can get genital herpes even if your partner shows no signs of the infection.
If you have any symptoms (like a sore on your genitals, especially one that periodically recurs) laboratory tests can help determine if you have genital herpes.
If symptoms do occur, they will usually appear 2 to 7 days after exposure and last 2 to 4 weeks. Both men and women may have one or more symptoms, including:
- Itching or tingling sensations in the genital or anal area
- Small fluid-filled blisters that burst leaving small painful sores
- Flu-like symptoms, including swollen glands or fever.
Outbreaks in people, who have had the virus for some time but have previously been asymptomatic, usually occur during periods of stress or illness when the immune system is functioning less efficiently than normal.
How is Genital Herpes tested?
A herpes test will usually involve the following examinations, which are carried out by a doctor or nurse.
A clinical examination will be done of a patient’s genital area.
A sample will be taken, using a cotton swab, from any visible sores and sent to the laboratory.
Women may be given an internal pelvic examination similar to a pap smear test.
A blood test could be done if the patient’s symptoms have already disappeared, or if there were no symptoms to begin with.
The herpes test works by searching for antibodies that the immune system produces to fight the virus, as the body can take up to 3 months to produce an immune response.
How is Genital Herpes treated?
There is no cure for herpes, but treatment is available to reduce symptoms and decrease the risk of transmission to a partner.
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus and treatment is not essential, as an outbreak of genital herpes will usually clear up by itself. A doctor may however prescribe a course of antiviral tablets to reduce the severity of an outbreak. The antiviral tablets work by preventing the herpes simplex virus from multiplying.