Do I have Genital Herpes Simplex?

Genital herpes can be difficult to diagnose because herpes is a complicated virus. Sometimes herpes looks like a different condition or has strange symptoms.

  • The most common symptoms of a herpes outbreak are red lesions or sores in the genital area.
  • These sores may itch, burn, or hurt, or they may not cause you any discomfort at all.
  • They are usually found on the penis or vulva but can be found in the groin area or on the buttocks as well.
  • If you think you might have herpes, you should see your health practitioner immediately. Your health practitioner will perform laboratory testing to confirm the diagnosis of herpes.

If You Have Herpes

If you get a positive herpes test, you should keep the following in mind:

  • One in four women and one in five men have herpes. It is extremely common.
  • Many people are asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms even though they are infected. This means that the person who gave you herpes could have herpes without knowing it. You should contact all of your previous sexual partners to notify them so that they can get tested as well.
  • There are many treatments available to help with your herpes.

What is Herpes?

  • Herpes is a virus.
  • It is contracted through skin-to-skin contact, not through bodily fluids, so using a condom does not provide 100% protection from herpes.
  • Herpes cannot be cured. The virus will always remain in your spinal nerve cells.
  • When your immune system becomes depressed, you may experience an outbreak.

Living with Herpes

  • Most people only experience herpes symptoms occasionally.
  • However, it is possible to shed the virus even when no lesions are present. You are always contagious.
  • Herpes is not fatal and it does not cause infertility.

What Causes Herpes Outbreaks?

Many things can cause herpes outbreaks. Usually, a depressed immune system is the culprit, although some people report that stress can cause them to have an outbreak.

Keeping Your Immune System Healthy

The best way to prevent an outbreak is to keep your immune system in top shape. Do this by:

  • Eating a healthy diet. Get plenty of antioxidants from fresh fruit, veggies, and fish. Choose whole grains and low-fat foods. Avoid junk foods. Take a daily multivitamin to be sure you are getting all the nutrients you need.
  • Exercising regularly. It is a proven fact that exercise keeps you healthy and prevents disease. 30 minutes of exercise, 3 days per week is the recommended minimum.
  • Getting plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause your immune system to become stressed out and less effective.
  • Be sure to wash your hands frequently. This helps keep bacteria and other viruses away. Staying healthy will keep your immune system working properly.

Herpes Treatments

There are many prescription treatments available on the market for herpes treatment. However, some may cause side effects. You should speak with your health practitioner about possible benefits and side effects before trying any prescription medications.


Photo Credit: Jo Hubris

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