Genital Herpes FAQs

What causes herpes?

  • Herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus. Genital herpes is usually caused by herpes simplex virus type 2, and oral herpes is usually caused by herpes simplex virus type 1.

What does herpes look like?

  • Generally, herpes causes red sores or lumps. These may become blisters or painful open sores. Symptoms vary from person to person and from outbreak to outbreak.

How is herpes spread?

  • Herpes is spread through contact with infected skin. It is not spread through blood or bodily fluids that have not come into contact with infected skin.

Can I spread herpes when I'm not having an outbreak?

  • Yes, it is possible to spread herpes even if you are not having an outbreak.

How common is herpes?

  • Herpes is very common. One in five people over the age of 12 have herpes. It is slightly more common in women; one in four women over the age of 12 have herpes.

Will herpes make me sterile?

  • No, herpes will not make you sterile. There are other sexually transmitted diseases that may make cause sterility. If you are newly infected with herpes, you should be checked for other STDs too.

Will herpes make me more susceptible to other infections?

  • Not usually. Sometimes the open sores provide a site for bacteria to enter the body, which may result in cellulitis. Cellulitis causes a red rash, tenderness, and fever. This can be treated with antibiotics.

Will condoms protect me from herpes?

  • Condoms provide some protection against herpes, but since they do not cover the entire genital area, there is still a chance that the infection can be transmitted.

Can herpes be cured?

  • No. There is no cure for herpes. There are, however, certain medications that can reduce the frequency and severity of your outbreaks. There are also many herbal and natural remedies for herpes.

How can I be sure I have herpes?

  • Your doctor can perform tests to confirm that your sores are, in fact, herpes. The most common tests are blood tests and viral cultures.

Can I infect my baby with herpes during my pregnancy?

  • Yes, it is possible to infect your baby with herpes during pregnancy or birth.
  • Babies born with herpes may be premature, have brain or eye damage, or rashes. In some cases, herpes is fatal to infants.
  • If you have your first outbreak during pregnancy, it is much more likely to be transmitted to your baby than if it is your second or third outbreak.
  • If you have an active outbreak when you are due to give birth, your doctor will probably advise a caesarean section to minimize the chances of transmission.

Will my herpes decrease in severity as time passes?

  • Yes, generally as time passes, the frequency and severity of outbreaks will lessen. This can be enhanced by using antiviral drugs or natural products.

What should I do if I find out I have herpes?

  • See your health practitioner to get tested. It can be difficult to diagnose herpes just from looking at it, so you will need to get some tests.
  • Avoid having sexual relations during a herpes outbreak.
  • Inform your past sexual partners so they can be tested, too.
  • Talk to your health practitioner about managing your herpes. There is no cure for herpes, but there are measures you can take to reduce the chance of transmitting it.


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