Genital herpes

Genital herpes affects one in five women under 50, but most will not know that they have it. 

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by herpes simplex virus 1 or 2. It affects one in five women under 50 years. Most infected people do not know that they carry the herpes virus because they have never experienced any symptoms. So it is possible that your sexual partner has the virus without any knowledge that they do. Without the correct use of condoms and dental dams the virus can be easily passed from one sexual partner to another. 

Herpes can cause painful blisters and ulcers in the genital region. Some people during their first infection will also experience fever and body aches, and difficulty passing urine, requiring admission to hospital (though this is uncommon). Outbreaks can be recurrent, particularly in the first year of infection, but they usually reduce over time. 

Herpes is transmitted during vaginal, anal and oral sex. It is possible to get genital herpes from cold sores after oral sex. Antiviral treatment, usually taken orally, can reduce the frequency and intensity of an outbreak if started within three days of the onset of symptoms. Some people stay on antivirals to suppress recurrences if they are frequent. Herpes cannot be totally cured; however, it is very manageable. Transmission of herpes can be reduced by consistent use of condoms, avoidance of sex during an outbreak, and reducing the number of sexual partners you have. A doctor can diagnose herpes by looking at the sores (if they are typical) or by a swab test from the sore.


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The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.

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