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STD - Genital Herpes

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Does this describe your symptoms?

 

Definition

  • Seeking information about genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease (STD)

General Information

  • Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2).

  • Genital herpes is the most common STD. Close to 50 million persons in the United States have genital herpes.

  • There is no cure for genital herpes; however, there are medications that can reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms.

Typical Symptoms of Genital Herpes

  • Painful, fluid-filled blisters that usually are grouped in clusters. They occur anywhere around the opening of the vagina or on the penis. Blisters dry out, crust over and heal in 7-10 days.

  • The symptoms are worst during the first episode of genital herpes.

  • Recurrences of genital herpes can occur and often are less painful and of shorter duration.

  • People can have genital herpes and have no symptoms at all (asymptomatic).

Additional Resources

  1. American Social Health Association

  2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2002. MMWR. 2002; 51(RR-6):1-80.

  3. Public Health Agency of Canada

If not, see these topics

  • How to PREVENT a sexually transmitted disease

  • PENIS SYMPTOMS (male genital symptoms)

  • VULVAR SYMPTOMS (female genital symptoms)

  • Questions about CHLAMYDIA, a sexually transmitted disease

  • Questions about GONORRHEA, a sexually transmitted disease

  • Questions about HIV, a sexually transmitted disease

  • Questions about PUBIC LICE, a sexually transmitted disease

  • Questions about TRICHOMONAS, a sexually transmitted disease

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When to Call Your Doctor

call now

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You were forced to have sex (sexual assault or rape)

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think you need to be seen

  • Possible first episode of herpes with symptoms of:

    • Painful, fluid-filled blisters that usually are grouped in clusters, and

    • Occur anywhere around the penis or opening of the vagina

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns

  • You are worried you might have a sexually transmitted disease

  • Possible first episode of herpes with symptoms of:

    • Painful, fluid-filled blisters that usually are grouped in clusters, and

    • Occur anywhere around the penis or opening of the vagina

  • Pregnant and you had sexual intercourse with someone who was diagnosed with oral or genital herpes

home care

Self Care at Home If

  • No symptoms and you don't think you need to be seen

  • Questions about genital herpes

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HOME CARE ADVICE FOR GENITAL HERPES

  1. How is genital herpes transmitted?

    • Genital herpes is spread by sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or any direct contact with the genitals of a person who has an active herpes infection (initial episode or recurrence).

    • Many people do not know that they have genital herpes. A person can have no symptoms and still transmit the virus. As a result, most cases of transmission occur with neither sexual partners knowing that it is occurring.

    • Oral herpes (fever blisters) also can be spread to the partner's genitals during oral sex.

  2. How long does it usually take for symptoms to appear once one is exposed?

    • The incubation period is 2 days to 2 weeks.

  3. How can I get tested for herpes?

    • Genital herpes can be diagnosed with a specimen taken from a blister or by blood testing.

  4. Is there treatment for genital herpes?

    • First episode - There are antiviral medications that can be used for genital herpes. Medication doesn't cure the disease, but can shorten the duration of symptoms. Speak with your physician.

    • Recurrent episodes - Antiviral medications can reduce and shorten the duration of symptoms. Speak with your physician.

  5. I have genital herpes. How can I protect my sexual partner from getting herpes?

    • Inform your sexual partner that you have herpes.

    • Abstain from sexual activity with uninfected sexual partners whenever you have the herpes sores or feel them coming on.

    • Remember that you can transmit herpes even when you have no symptoms.

    • A latex condom can reduce the chance of transmission, if used correctly and if the condom covers the herpes sores.

  6. STD National Hotline

    • The CDC National STD Hotline provides information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV/genital warts, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. Specialists can provide general information, referrals to local clinics, and written materials about STDs and disease prevention.

    • Toll-free number (English): (800) 227-8922

    • Toll-free number (Spanish): (800) 344-7432

    • Their website is at: http://www.ashastd.org

  7. Pregnancy test, when in doubt:

    • If there is any possibility of pregnancy, obtain and use a urine pregnancy test from the local drug store.

    • Follow the instructions included in the package.

  8. Call Your Doctor If:

    • Pregnancy test is positive or if you have difficulties with the home pregnancy test.

    • Discharge from penis or unusual vaginal discharge

    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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