Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is developed from contracting the virus herpes simplex-2. Genital Herpes is a serious problem in the United States and could personally impact your life if you are sexually active and do not take certain precautions.
How common is Genital Herpes in the United States?
Genital herpes is so common in the US that some statistics estimate that one in six people aged 14 to 49 years old has genital herpes. It is one of the most common sexual transmitted diseases (STD’s) that can be contracted, and is most common in sexually active individuals, particularly those with multiple partners, and individuals who do not use safe sex methods.
How does it spread?
The condition of genital herpes is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone else who has the virus. The fluids found in herpes sores are what cause the virus. Coming into any contact with these fluids could put you at risk of getting infected. Unfortunately, the sores do not have to be visible for the virus to spread. Individuals who are not aware they have herpes often spread it to their partner without their knowledge and without sight of any concerning sores or blemishes.
How can you lower your risk of contracting Genital Herpes?
The only way to avoid genital herpes having any chance of impacting your life altogether is to abstain from vaginal, anal, and oral sex. If you choose not to be sexually abstinent, there are certain ways you can be sexually active without putting yourself in as great of a risk as if you didn’t take certain precautions. One possible option is staying in a long term, monogamous relationship. Using latex condoms also helps, but keep in mind that having sex with someone who has herpes with a condom does not guarantee that you will not contract the virus. Condoms help, but as the infection may occur in places not covered by the condom, this is in no way a foolproof option to avoid contracting the virus.
How do you know if you have Genital Herpes?
Part of the reason genital herpes is so common and affects so many people is the fact that many individuals with the disease are asymptomatic. Others may only experience symptoms that are mild, and may mistake them for something else that is less serious, like a common skin condition.
Genital herpes outbreaks generally result in one or more blisters in the genital area, rectum, or mouth. When the blisters break, they leave behind painful sores. During a first outbreak, some individuals experience flu like symptoms.
The outbreaks shortly following contracting the virus are generally more severe than those that follow in later years. Severity in the outbreaks and frequency of occurrence will typically decrease as time goes by. This is another reason why many people do not know they have the condition, especially if the initial outbreak is not severe or noticeable.
The best way to find out if you have genital herpes, like any other sexually transmitted disease (STD), is to be professionally tested for the condition. Most STD tests will test for this condition as a standard, along with several others.
Is there a cure for Herpes?
Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for herpes. Individuals who experience severe or frequent outbreaks can take medications to lower the severity or frequency of the symptoms. Some medications are taken daily to help avoid spreading the condition to a sexual partner.
Do I have to get treated?
Getting treated is not required, but may be recommended if you commonly experience severe outbreaks, or have a sexual partner who does not have the virus and you wish to avoid the risk of transmitting it. Certain considerations also should be made by women with herpes who become pregnant. It is possible to have a child without passing on the virus.
Sex Life Concerns
Many individuals who contract herpes have serious concerns about how it will impact their sex life and their sense of well being. While it is important to take necessary precautions to manage your condition, and inform all of your partners regarding your condition and risk factors, contracting herpes does not mean you cannot continually experience a healthy, fulfilling sex life. However, it is important to address all necessary concerns associated with the virus.
Many concerns and questions you might have regarding the virus can be resolved and explained by a health care professional. Not only can you be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), but you can be prescribed medications if you test positive, as well as given necessary information on how to live and manage your condition. This doesn’t just include the physical changes to your body themselves, but also dealing with emotional pressure often associated with having an STD.
While genital herpes is a serious condition affecting many people, it doesn’t have to be a reason to stop living your life if you have it, nor is it a fear worthy of making you skip getting tested to avoid possibly hearing bad news. Practicing safe sex is not only beneficial to your health and well being, but shows respect and compassion for your potential sex partners by keeping yourself healthy so you can avoid spreading anything to anyone else.