Genital Herpes is a virus that looks like a small, fluid filled blisters in the genital areas or rectal areas.
How do we catch it?
Usually, humans catch this virus through sexual intercourse. Either the male or the female can catch the virus. When a partner is having an outbreak of herpes then it means that the HSV is active. The way that this virus is transferred is through skin contact.
A person that has herpes may not know it at the beginning of the outbreak, so you always need to use protection because you never know what your partner may have.
The virus living in your body
When you have the virus, you may or may not know that you have it. What happens is that once you have the virus, you have an outbreak of herpes, which means that the virus is “active” and then when the virus stops attacking you, it goes into the nerves of the spine and stays there for days, weeks, months, or years. When it is hidden in your spine it is known as “inactive”. Think of this as a volcano being dormant and active. When it erupts it is like when you have an outbreak of herpes, when it is dormant it is like the virus hiding in your spine.
When it comes to having symptoms of genital herpes, it is the same case as genital warts. A person may or may not know that they have the virus because he/she may or may not have symptoms. Some people don’t have symptoms, and others do. If you do have symptoms you will have them from two to ten days after the virus has entered your body.
Your symptoms can go from burning and itching in the genital areas, to pain in your legs, anus, or genitals, to fluids coming from your vagina, and up to a feeling of pressure in the abdomen. Nevertheless, a person MAY NOT have symptoms until the virus becomes active.
Once the virus is active you will have excruciating consequences. You will have sores that will appear on the mouth, on the penis, or on the vagina. Small, red bumps appear first on either of those places, then they become blisters, and then they become extremely painful sores.
Depending on the person’s immune system, people can have different symptoms. They can even be things such as headaches, fevers, muscle pains, etc.
It is up to the virus when it comes to knowing how often you will have the sores. Usually it takes up from two to ten days for a person to have the first sores after the virus has entered the body. All of this depends on the virus. The virus may decide to stay in the nerves of the spine for a year and then come out and start attacking your genitals. Also, the virus may take over days, weeks, months, or years before it attacks again for a second time, third time, fourth time, and so on.
How long should we wait?
How long should you wait before you get tested? You really shouldn’t wait any time at all. Most people that are active in their sex life should have check ups at least once a month for STD’s. For genital herpes, you should go to the doctor as soon as you find out that your partner had them, or as soon as you have the first symptoms. You should not wait for anything; all you need to do is go to the nearest clinic around.
Methods of Prevention
What methods can be used to prevent one from catching the disease? Well there are many common reasons for this question. The most obvious and common one is to use a condom. You should always use a condom when having sexual intercourse. Condoms may not be 100% effective in this case though, because it does not cover all of your genital area. Remember that any skin contact around the genitals can cause you to catch the virus.
You may think that only males can protect themselves from getting the virus, but that is not true. A female can also protect herself by cutting a condom in half, making it a one piece of latex, and covering the walls of her vagina with it.
Another obvious method is to just not have sex at all. Even oral sex should be avoided. When you know that your partner or yourself have the virus, then you should try to avoid all sexual contacts until you have gone under treatment.
There is no long-term cure for genital herpes, but there is some medication available which may help to speed up the healing of sores. If you are going to take tablets, they must be started within 24-48 hours of the blisters’ developing.
There are things that you can do to help with the symptoms. Take paracetamol or another mild painkiller if the pain is too high. A cool shower can help soothe the sores as well. Otherwise, try to wrap ice cubes in a piece of cotton and place them on the sores. Don’t put ice directly on the sores, and do not use the cloth for anything else. Local anaesthetic gels can help the discomfort as well. Wear loose clothing, and leave the sores exposed to the air as much as possible, to help them dry out. Get plenty of rest during and after the attack, eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and try to cut back on cigarettes and alcohol. These are pretty much the only things you can do.
If the disease is not treated as suggested above, then there are some long-term effects. One thing is that if the blisters break, then you will have an irritated skin layer which you will scratch because of the itching and can cause yourself to have a scar on the genital area. Another effect can be that if you irritate your skin too much then your herpes may worsen and will cause them to give you more pain. If you do not wash yourself properly then the virus might attack you more often and you will end up having herpes more often than expected.