Learn what symptoms to look out for, and how to recognize genital herpes and its breakouts.
Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), genital herpes is one of the most commonly seen sexually transmitted conditions in the United States. There are two types of herpes viruses that cause different symptoms when contracted. In most cases, HSV-1 causes oral herpes, while HSV-2 causes genital herpes. Statistics show that one in three people actually have herpes. It is possible that you may have herpes, and not even know about it because there may be no visible manifestations of symptoms of the condition. On the other hand, if you see cold sores around your mouth or think there is something funny going on around your genital area, it is only logical to wonder whether you have herpes.
What happens in a herpes infection?
The transfer of the herpes virus takes place through sexual contact between an infected person and his/her partner. Many people have misconceptions about this transfer process, and assume you can only infect a person when there is a virus flare-up and the symptoms are visible. This is not true. You can infect someone even if the virus in your body is not showing any outward symptoms or signs of its infectious presence.
Upon first contact, the HSV enters through your skin, and makes its way along the nerve paths. Once it is safely ensconced in your nerve paths, the virus enters a dormant or inactive stage. During this stage, the virus just remains there without activating, and this process has no predefined time limit. However, from time to time, the HSV is likely to become active, and travel back up the nerve paths and up to the surface of your skin. At this juncture, the virus creates additional viruses in a process called shedding. Even when the virus is active, it may or may not manifest in the form of a symptom outbreak. However, the active virus is highly infectious, and can pass on from person to person through sexual contact. Wearing a condom does not ensure that you will not pass on the infection, because the virus may also be present on the areas of the skin that are uncovered.
Do I Have Herpes?
Statistics show that approximately 80 percent of people who have the condition have absolutely no knowledge that they are infected. This makes them a danger to themselves and their sexual partners. They may unknowingly pass on the condition, and because they do not know that they have herpes, they cannot access effective treatment options.
Symptoms may become noticeable within a few days or weeks from the first contact with the virus. However, there are plenty of cases wherein the initial outbreak does not happen for years after contact. If your herpes symptoms are mild, then it possible that they may be attributed to some other malady. Have a look at these herpes symptoms to determine whether or not you are suffering from this sexually transmitted disease.
Of course, genital herpes is not the only illness that can cause these specific symptoms. In fact, more often than not, it is mistaken for vaginal yeast infections in women, bacterial or bladder infections in both genders, etc. The only way to determine whether or not you have herpes for sure is by getting yourself checked by your doctor. In order to diagnose genital herpes, your healthcare provider will conduct a physical exam, and a swab or blood test. If you see these symptoms and are worried about having the infection, talk to your doctor today.
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