What is genital herpes?
With genital herpes there is a virus, one of the herpes viruses, that infects the genitals. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). An infection with herpes isn't dangerous, but can't be cured. Because it's a virus antibiotics aren't effective and a cure hasn't been found. With herpes there are recurrent attacks, because the virus stays in the body, even after the attack, enabling it to cause new attacks later on.
What are symptoms of genital herpes?
- The first attack of genital herpes is usually more severe than the ones after that
- Stress, the flu or menstruation can cause new attacks
- Itching, pain and/or irritation of the genitals
- Red spots and a tingling feeling in and around the genitals
- After a few days the red spots change to soars or vesicles, filled with a clear liquid
- The vesicles can be on and around the genitals and/or anus
- Vesicles are usually very painful
- The soars burst open after some time and disappear within 3 weeks and don't leave any scars
- The first herpes attack can be quite severe:
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the groin
- Pain during urination
- Sore muscles
- Vaginal discharge
- Itching of the genitals
- Recurring attacks are usually less severe than the first
- Frequency of recurring attacks range from once a month to almost never
Is genital herpes serious and should I see a doctor?
Genital herpes can't be cured, but the symptoms can be treated to shorten the attack or alleviate the pain
Contact a doctor when:
- When you have genital herpes and you're pregnant, contact your gynacologist
- When you have your first herpes attack when you're pregnant
- Partners don't need to be treated or examined, only when they have symptoms
What can I do about genital herpes myself?
- Even if you don't have any symptoms you can infect others
- You can infect others or yourself in different places of your body by touching the soars and then touching another bodypart
- The medication for cold sores doesn't work for genital herpes
- Don't touch the soars and wash your hands when you do touch it by accident
- When you have few symptoms it can help to apply some zinc oil to the soars
- You can use paracetamol or Tylenol to alleviate the pain
- With vaginal, oral (with the mouth) and anal (with the anus) sexual contact you can catch an STD!
- Condoms are the only protection against STDs
- Contraceptives (the pill, IUDs, etc.) don't protect against STDs
- When you're in a relationship and want to start having unprotected sex, always either discuss this with your doctor or get tested for STDs
- When you've had unprotected sexual contact either discuss this with your doctor or get tested for STDs
- Safe sex has nothing to do with trust, don't let yourself get pressured into unsafe sex
How does genital herpes affect my body?
Infection with genital herpes can occur through the skin and through the genitals. The first attacks are usually more severe than the recurring attacks. Recurring attacks are most frequent in situations in which the immune system is a bit weaker, like when you have the flu, right before menstruation or in stressful situations. Because genital herpes is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren't effective, as they're only affective with bacteria or parasites.