Genital Herpes: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

What you need to know about genital herpes, a common and highly contagious sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus.

/sites/assets/Assets/Article%20Images/three_condoms.jpg?Width=616&Height=275

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI) affecting both men and women. The virus spreads primarily through sexual contact; it does not spread through contact with objects used by an infected person because the virus dies quickly outside of the body.

Read on to find out more about genital herpes so you can take the necessary steps to prevent it from spreading to you and your sex partner.  

Genital Herpes: Causes

There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections that can cause genital herpes:
HSV type 1 (HSV-1): often spread through skin-to-skin contact, HSV-1 usually causes cold sores or blisters around the mouth and can be spread to the genital area through oral sex 
HSV type 2 (HSV-2): this type commonly causes genital herpes and can be spread through sexual and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is common and highly contagious, and can be spread whether or not the infected person has an open sore

Complications associated with genital herpes include: 
o An increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDs), chlamydia and gonorrhea
o Newborn infection: a mother with open sores can spread the infection to her newborn as the baby passes through the birth passage during childbirth resulting in brain damage, blindness or even death for the newborn

Genital Herpes: Symptoms

Some people infected with HSV may experience mild or no symptoms so they may not be aware that they are infected. However, there are some common symptoms that can help you better deduce if you have genital herpes.

Some symptoms include:
Small, red bumps, blisters, or open sores (ulcers) on your genital, anal and surrounding areas
Pain or itching around the genital area, buttocks or inner thighs
Pain while urinating
Flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, fever and muscle aches 
Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area

For women, sores typically develop on the vaginal area, external genitals, buttocks, anus or cervix. For men, sores can appear on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs. The initial symptom of genital herpes usually presents as pain or itching in the genital area after exposure to an infected sexual partner. Small, red blisters may then appear in the genital area and they may rupture. 

Recurrence of Genital Herpes

Signs and symptoms of genital herpes may recur for years. While some people may experience numerous episodes each year, the outbreaks usually get less frequent as time passes.

Outbreaks of genital herpes may be triggered by:
Stress
Menstruation
Illness
Surgery
A suppressed immune system brought on by medications such as steroids or chemotherapy, or infections caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 

Genital Herpes: Diagnosis Methods

Genital herpes can be diagnosed through the following methods:
A clinical examination
Tissue sampling from blisters or early ulcers
Blood tests to confirm diagnosis

Genital Herpes: Treatment Options

There is currently no cure for genital herpes. However, oral antiviral medications can be prescribed to help heal the sores and reduce the frequency of the infection recurring.

Genital Herpes: Prevention

The best way to prevent an infection is to practise abstinence and limit sexual contact to only one partner who is infection-free.

Other precautions that you can adopt include:
Using a condom when engaging in sexual activity 
Limiting your number of sex partners
Avoiding sexual intercourse if either partner has an outbreak of herpes in the genital or other areas

If you have an active infection:
Avoid sexual intercourse
Keep your sores clean and dry
Avoid touching the sores and wash your hands after contact with any sores
If you are pregnant, see your doctor immediately for further advice
If you think you may have an STI, go for a sexual health screening or HIV screening. You may get yourself tested for STIs or HIV/AIDS at polyclinics, private clinics, and hospitals in Singapore.

MORE A-Z

Peritoneal-Dialysis
Peritoneal Dialysis

What is Peritoneal Dialysis?

Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Depression
Depression

We all feel sad from time to time. But when this sadness never seems to fade away, it might be a symptom of depression. Knowing how to spot depression can help protect you and your loved ones. With early detection, you can beat the blues.

Health Promotion Board
Diabetes management
Diabetes Management: Weight, Diet, Exercise and Medicine

As a person with diabetes, it is very important for you to learn how to manage the condition well. The main goal is to keep your blood glucose at an optimal level — neither too high nor too low.

National Healthcare Group

More A-Z

38
Genital Herpes: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

 Catalog-Item Reuse

Back to Top