The herpes simplex virus affects one out of every five people in the United States and is the cause of the sexually transmitted infection, genital herpes. There are two types of the virus; one that causes oral herpes and the other causes genital herpes.
Herpes can be a cold sore, fever blister, or small sore/lesion in one's genital area. Some symptoms of genital herpes include:
- Fever and other flu-like symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Sore lymph nodes in the groin
- Vaginal discharge (in women)
- Difficulty urinating
The First Outbreak
The first outbreak symptoms can occur between two to ten days from the first point of exposure, one can experience:
- A full feeling in the abdomen
- Fluid leaking from the vagina (in women)
- Itching and burning sensations around the genitals and/or anus
- Pain in the buttocks, genitals or legs
Passing Herpes on to Your Partner
Even when no symptoms are present, it is possible to spread herpes to a partner. Herpes is contagious even when it is not visible. It is best to continue to use protection when an outbreak is or is not present.
Herpes: Use Protection
The risk is especially prevalent when no protection is used at all. Using protection, like condoms, reduces the risk of passing it to another person. It was discovered that almost 80% of all transmission occurred while someone did not have any signs of symptoms of an outbreak.
Some people have frequent outbreaks, while others have them occasionally or rarely. The occurrence of outbreaks decreases with age and how careful you are. There are several risk factors that can increase the odds of multiple outbreaks. Emotional stress, fatigue, infections such as cold and flu, physical injury and any other conditional that can weaken or impair your immune system are all reasons that an outbreak may be more frequent. All of those factors take a toll on your immune system and you ability to fight off any type of sickness, whether it is a virus or an infection.
Herpes: Protecting Yourself and Your Partner
The best way to safeguard you or your partner from contracting the herpes simplex virus is to not have sexual contact during an outbreak. It is so easily transmitted that each person must be careful in their practices and who they come in contact with. Before you decide to become sexually active with someone, it is a good idea to both get tested. This reduces the occurrence of any surprises in the future and is a deciding factor in whether to become intimate or not.
Herpes and all other sexually transmitted diseases should not be taken lightly. Once contracted, it is always a part of a person's life. There is no cure for herpes, (or many other sexually transmitted diseases) although there are treatments that relieve the symptoms, but it remains a lifelong disease.