- Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2.
- It is a very common virus; it is estimated that one in 5 adults is infected, although 80% of these are generally asymptomatic.
- In most cases, genital herpes is an irritating but not life-threatening condition.
- The most common physical symptoms of herpes are itchy or painful sores in the genital area.
- Psychological effects of herpes include fear of rejection, depression, feelings of isolation, and sexual inhibition.
In very rare cases, genital herpes can cause more severe complications.
Herpes and Pregnancy
Herpes in pregnant women can be extremely dangerous to her newborn. Pregnant women with herpes have a higher incidence of:
- Premature labor
- Delayed fetal growth
The baby can be infected with herpes in utero or during birth. Complications of infection in newborns are severe and include:
- Painful lesions on the body
Infection of the central nervous system. Symptoms of this include:
- Poor appetite
- Disseminated herpes, in which herpes attacks the baby's internal organs.
- Babies that develop herpes can die or suffer brain damage.
- If you are experiencing an outbreak of herpes when you go into labor, your doctor will probably advise a caesarean section. This is intended to minimize contact between the baby and the herpes virus.
Herpes can transfer to the eye. This is more common in people who have oral herpes, but it is possible to transfer the virus from the infected area to the eye via the hands. Always make sure to wash your hands with soap if you touch an open herpes sore. Ocular herpes can result in the following complications:
- Corneal scars
- Loss of vision
In approximately four to eight percent of cases, genital herpes causes a condition known as herpes meningitis. Women are more likely to develop this condition that men. Symptoms of herpes meningitis are:
- Stiff neck
- Light sensitivity
Usually herpes meningitis lasts between 2 and 7 days. Neurological damage rarely results, although it is possible.
There are many other conditions that are associated with herpes.
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal inflammation
- Pain disorders
- Coronary artery disease
Increased Risks of Developing Other Diseases
Herpes has been shown to increase a person's risk of contracting other diseases, like sexually transmitted hepatitis and HIV.
Herpes and the Immune System
Your best defense against herpes complications is a healthy immune system. The immune system is what keeps the herpes virus at bay, so it is important to boost your immune system in any way possible. Suggestions for a healthy immune system:
- Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to weaken immunity.
- Eat a healthy diet. Make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
- Exercise regularly. Studies have shown that a fit, active body is more immune to disease.
- Take an immune booster. All natural supplements have been shown to boost immunity without side effects.