Genital Herpes (HSVII)
In the United States, 45 million people are infected, with an additional one million people becoming infected each year. More women than men are infected. Although there is no cure for genital herpes, doctors continue to search for the best medicine for the treatment of symptoms and ways to slow the disease.
Causes and Risk Factors
Herpes is spread via sexual contact. It is transmitted if one's skin, mouth, vagina, or penis comes into contact with someone who has already been infected. The odds of being infected increase if you or your partner are engaging in physical activities when herpes sores, blisters, or a rash is present. However, even if no physical symptoms are visible, the virus can still spread. During those times it is especially easy for the virus to spread because people might not even realize that they are infected.
There are a number of symptoms that range of severity and frequency from person to person. For instance, many people with genital herpes never experience sores, or the symptoms are so mild that they are mistaken for insect bites or a different skin condition.
During the first outbreak, which occurs between two days and two weeks after first contraction, symptoms tend to be more pronounced and serious than later on. General symptoms include:
- Muscle aches in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, and knees
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the groin
- Decreased appetite
- Painful urination
- Vaginal discharge
- Genital blisters that are small, painful, and filled with clear or yellow fluid
In men, the genital blisters are placed on the penis, scrotum, around the anus, thighs, and buttocks. Both men and women may have blisters on the tongue, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, mouth, and other parts of the body. The area of skin infected by blisters may tingle, burn, itch, or be painful before the blisters appear.
The second outbreak may occur anywhere from a few days to weeks after the initial outbreak. Symptoms may also vary in severity but tend to be less serious.
Prevention is the best form of treatment. Practice safe, smart sex. Before entering physical relations with a new partner, make sure that you are both tested. Many health clinics offer such tests for free or at very low rates.
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