Genital Herpes - STI

Genital Herpes - STI

Is this your symptom?

  • Genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease (STD)

Some Basics...

  • Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2).
  • It is the most common STI. Close to 50 million people in the United States have it.
  • It can be spread by vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Even if they have no signs of the STI, people with genital herpes can spread it.
  • There is no cure for genital herpes. There are medicines that can help with the severity and duration of the symptoms.

Prevention

There are only two 100% effective means of avoiding STIs:

  • Not having sex or oral sex (abstinence)
  • Having only one, long-term sexual partner who does not have any STIs
  • Condoms can help reduce the transmission of STIs during sex. Condoms can also be used during oral and anal sex to prevent STIs.

Symptoms

  • Painful, fluid-filled blisters that most often are grouped. They can be found anywhere near the opening of the vagina or on the penis. Blisters dry out, crust over, and heal in 7-10 days.
  • The symptoms are worse the first time people have herpes.
  • Genital herpes can come back. It is often less painful and does not last as long when it comes back.
  • People can get herpes and have no signs at all.

When to Call for Genital Herpes - STI

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • You feel weak or very sick

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Possible first episode of herpes with symptoms of:
    • Painful, fluid-filled blisters that most often are grouped, and
    • Are found near the penis or opening of the vagina
  • You think you need to be seen

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • You are worried you might have an STI
  • Pregnant and you had sex with someone who has oral or genital herpes
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • No symptoms
  • Questions about genital herpes

Care Advice

Genital Herpes

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2).
    • It is the most common STI. Close to 50 million people in the United States have it.
    • There is no cure for genital herpes. Antiviral drugs can shorten your symptoms.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. How Is It Spread?
    • Genital herpes is spread by vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It is also spread through contact with the genitals of a person with active herpes.
    • Many people do not know that they have genital herpes. A person can have no signs and still spread the virus. It can be spread without either partner knowing.
    • Oral herpes (fever blisters) can also be spread during oral sex.
    • There are only two 100% effective means of avoiding STIs:
      • Not having sex or oral sex (abstinence)
      • Having only one, long-term sexual partner who does not have any STIs
    • Condoms can help reduce the transmission of STIs during sex.
  3. How Long Does It Take For Symptoms To Appear Once A Person Is Exposed?
    • They most often appear within 2 days to 2 weeks.
  4. Testing:
    • Genital herpes can be tested with a sample taken from a blister. It can also be tested using a blood sample.
  5. Treatment:
    • First episode: There are antiviral drugs that can be used for genital herpes. These will not cure it. They can shorten how long you will have symptoms. Talk to your doctor about these drugs.
    • Recurrent episodes: Antiviral drugs can shorten how long you will have symptoms. Talk to your doctor about these drugs.
  6. If I Have Genital Herpes, How Can I Protect My Partner From Getting It?
    • Tell your partner that you have herpes.
    • Do not have sex with partners when you have sores or feel them coming.
    • You can spread herpes even when you have no signs of it.
    • A latex condom can reduce the chance of spreading herpes. Use the condom to cover the sores.
  7. Pregnancy Test, When in Doubt:
    • If there is a chance that you might be pregnant, use a urine pregnancy test.
    • You can buy a pregnancy test at the drugstore.
    • It works best first thing in the morning.
    • Follow all package instructions.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Pregnancy test is positive or you have trouble with the at-home test
    • Discharge from penis or vagina is not normal
    • You think you need to be seen
    • You get worse

Hotlines and Internet Resources

  1. United States - STI Hotline:
    • American Social Health Association STI Hotline provides information on STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV/genital warts, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. It can provide referrals to local clinics.
    • Toll-free number (English): (800) 227-8922
    • Toll-free number (Spanish): (800) 344-7432
    • Their website is at: www.ashasexualhealth.org
  2. Internet Resources:
    • American Social Health Association: This website has answers to your questions about sexual health and STIs. It can be found at http://www.iwannaknow.org
    • STD Treatment Guidelines 2015, Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC): This can be found at STD Treatment Guidelines, 2015

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.


Last Reviewed: 7/16/2018 1:00:28 AM
Last Updated: 3/31/2018 1:00:51 AM

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