10 FAQs About Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is transmitted from an infected person to another person during sex. This viral infection affects the genitals and is very contagious. Genital herpes affects both men and women by causing open sores or blisters on the genital area. Symptoms of genital herpes often include itching and pain. Sometimes genital herpes do not have any symptoms, but can still be spread to someone else. Genital herpes does not have a cure, but it can be treated to help ease symptoms of outbreaks and decrease the times of future outbreaks. Here, the genital herpes FAQs help to provide answers to common questions about this disease.

10 FAQs About Genital Herpes

1. What Causes Genital Herpes?

There are two different types of herpes simplex germs that cause the genital herpes virus.

  • HSV-1 herpes simplex virus commonly causes blisters or cold sores around the mouth. It can also be passed along to the genitals when engaging in oral sex. Although recurrences can take place because of HSV-1, they are less common.
  • HSV-2 herpes simplex virus is usually the type responsible for causing genital herpes. It is very contagious and can be passed along through both skin on skin and sexual contact, even when no open sores are present.

You may wonder whether shingles can cause genital herpes or not. Well, it cannot, since the types of viruses listed above do not cause shingles.

2. What Are Signs That I Might Have Genital Herpes?

After being in contact with someone infected with genital herpes, you may begin to experience symptoms after 3-7 days, a period before herpes shows up. Symptoms may include broken skin areas or blisters on the genitals that are grouped together and these blisters are usually about 1-3 mm, or 1/32 to 1/8 of an inch in size. In most cases, you will notice blisters first, which then transform into sores. You may experience pain or the infection may be just painless.

3. Can I Have Genital Herpes and Still Not Know?

Some people do not develop blisters when infected with genital herpes, or have only mild symptoms that are not worrisome and go undiagnosed, so you can have genital herpes but still don't know about it.

4. Should I Tell My Partner If I Have Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes are highly contagious, so it is important to avoid having sexual contact with anyone, especially when the disease is active. During this time, even the use of a condom will not keep the disease from spreading since some sores will not be covered. So if you have genital herpes, tell your partner for early diagnosis.

5. If My Partner Has Genital Herpes, How Likely Is It That I Have Been Infected by It?

Whether or not you are likely to become infected depends on how long the intimate relationship has happened, and whether condoms have been used. Although you could be infected after only one sexual encounter, fewer times with that partner along with the use of a condom will minimize the risk.

Keep in mind that the sores do not have to be present on your partner’s genitals in order for you to become infected. Genital herpes symptoms can resemble other issues such as hemorrhoids, bug bites, razor burn or pimples and can be contagious even when free of symptoms.

6. How Do I Find Out If I Have Genital Herpes or Not?

You can find out whether or not you have genital herpes by going to your doctor and getting tested. If you have sores on your genitals, the doctor can take a sample to have it tested.

You can also be tested for genital herpes by having a blood test. If you have been infected with the herpes virus, your body would have made an antibody, which can be detected in the blood. If your blood carries an antibody for the HSV-2 virus, you most likely have been infected with genital herpes since this type of the virus nearly always affects the genitals. If your blood tests show that you carry an antibody for the HSV-1 virus, you may have oral or genital herpes. The HSV-1 virus can infect the genitals while engaging in oral sex.

7. If I Have Genital Herpes, Can I Still Have Sex?

It is important to avoid sex if you have active symptoms, because you can easily spread the virus to your partner. If you are not experiencing symptoms, you can have sex but be sure to use a condom to reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your partner. Genital herpes is contagious even when no symptoms are being experienced. Remember that even with the use of a condom, you can still infect someone else with genital herpes.

8. Is There Any Way to Cure Genital Herpes?

Once you have been infected with genital herpes you will always have it and will be at risk for new outbreaks. Although there is no cure, there are treatments that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, such as antiviral medications, which help with genital herpes symptoms. There are also remedies that you can do at home to reduce symptoms of genital herpes.

9. How Can I Protect Myself from Genital Herpes?

The best ways to protect yourself from becoming infected with genital herpes or any other sexually transmitted disease is to either avoid sexual activity altogether, or to limit your sexual activities to one partner who is not infected with the virus.

Other ways to limit your risk of becoming infected include using a latex condom every time you have sex and avoiding sex if you or your partner has symptoms of genital herpes.

10. Will Genital Herpes Kill Me?

Genital herpes itself is not a life threatening infections, but the sores can make it easier to contact the HIV virus, which will cause AIDS. If someone has both genital herpes and HIV, both infections can become worse. It is also possible for a woman with genital herpes who becomes pregnant to pass the infection along to her unborn baby.