The herpes simplex virus, for the most part, exists in an infected person without showing any outward signs of its presence. Doctors use the word “asymptomatic” to describe conditions like this. The fact that this sexually transmitted disease does not usually reveal an infection with outward signs means that it is very hard to keep it from spreading.
The infected person may or may not know of their infection, and it is possible for infected people to hide the infection from their partners. Having people educated with accurate genital herpes information is therefore important in the effort to keep this sexually transmitted disease from spreading.
Basic Genital Herpes Information
The herpes simplex virus is usually abbreviated to HSV, and there are two types of the disease. These are usually referred to as HSV 1 and HSV 2. The HSV 1 type is usually the kind that occurs on the lips and mouth otherwise called oral herpes. Genital herpes is usually HSV 2. “Usually” is not the same as “always”, however.
While both types are mostly restricted to different areas of the body, the cases where HSV 1 occurs on the genitals is rising. About a sixth of all cases of genital herpes are now HSV 1. Genital herpes can also infect another person orally via mouth-to-genital contact.
When it does present with symptoms, genital herpes will do so in the form of blisters or lesions on or around the genital area. In women the blisters are usually to be found on the labia, but the they may also be on the inner thighs, buttocks or around the anus.
One piece of genital herpes information that it is important for women to note is that they are somewhat more likely to be infected with the virus than men. In men the blisters can occur on the glans or shaft of the penis, on the scrotum, inner thigh, buttocks, or the anus.
The lesions may be itchy, or give a burning sensation, in addition to this there may be a discharge from the genitals. Some particularly unpleasant genital herpes information: a less common form of the virus, found mostly in people who have anal sex, is the herpetic inflammation of the rectum. This herpes of the rectum is called herpetic proctitis.
There are certain things that can trigger an outbreak of this sexually transmitted disease. Among these things are fatigue and anxiety. Having another medical condition that in any way blocks or cripples the immune system can also trigger an outbreak.
As the body has not yet had sufficient time to manufacture antibodies, the first outbreak of herpes is usually the worst. The body’s immune system will keep the subsequent outbreaks of the STD in check since it has had time to adapt to the disease’s presence.
Transmission of Herpes STD
For the most part, the herpes virus is dormant. It lives in a mass of nerve cells at the base of the spine. This mass of nerve cells is called a ganglion. An outbreak occurs when the herpes virus travels from the nerve cells up to the surface of the skin (this includes the mucus membrane). This movement to the surface is also called “shedding”. It is at this point that it is possible for an infected person to pass the disease on to someone else. As is implied by the label of sexually transmitted disease, genital herpes is most commonly spread by sex, either vaginal, anal or oral.
As with genital warts caused by the human papilloma virus, another viral STD, condoms may not provide adequate protection. HSV is an atypical sexually transmitted disease in that the method of transmission is not body fluids but rather contact with skin. An area of infected skin may be left uncovered by the condom thus allowing the STD to be passed on. Though women are more vulnerable to this STD infection than men, condom use is more effective in preventing transmission from male to female than female to male.
Genital Herpes Treatment
The most unfortunate bit of genital herpes information is this: There is no cure available. Once the STD takes up residence in the nerve cells of the body, it is there to stay. There are, however, effective treatments for herpes. There is a group of drugs classed as “antivirals”. These drugs lower the length of time that shedding outbreaks last, which is when transmission of the virus is most likely to occur.
If taken in the right dosage and on the right schedule, these drugs can suppress the signs of an HSV outbreak. Shortening the time of the outbreak lessens the likelihood of it being transmitted. Infected people with immune systems that are not fully functional will need to take the medication more often than those with fully function immune systems.
There is a lot of genital herpes information available, both on the Internet and from physicians, people with this sexually transmitted disease would be wise to become very educated on the subject.