Genital Herpes

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    AHealthwise answered

    There is no need for surgical treatment for genital herpes. But if you are pregnant and genital herpes is diagnosed or suspected at the time of labor and delivery, a cesarean section (surgical) delivery may be recommended to protect the baby from getting a herpes simplex infection, which can cause serious health problems. A mother can pass the herpes simplex virus (HSV) to her baby if she has a sore or blister present during a vaginal delivery.

    The biggest risk occurs during a first-time (primary) outbreak of genital herpes. Usually in these cases the woman either does not have symptoms or is unaware of symptoms. Experts disagree about the use of cesarean section delivery in women with recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes.

    Cesarean section may be recommended if a woman has symptoms such as tingling or pain (prodromal symptoms) that signal an impending outbreak. For these women, acyclovir (Zovirax) used in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy may reduce the need for delivery by cesarean section by reducing the risk of a recurrent outbreak at the time of delivery.

    A cesarean section is usually not done if a woman with recurrent genital herpes has blisters or sores only on her thighs, buttocks or another area that is not close to the vagina.

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  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Antiviral medicines are the recommended treatment for genital herpes. They can relieve the pain and discomfort of blisters and sores and speed healing.

    These medicines also decrease the number of days you can spread the virus (are contagious).

    Medicine choices

    • Antiviral medicines, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex), are recommended for treating primary genital herpes outbreaks. This medicine can be taken when an outbreak occurs. It can also be taken every day to help prevent outbreaks.
    • Nonprescription medicines, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), may reduce the pain and fever from genital herpes.

    Taking antiviral medicines

    Antiviral medicines work best when they are taken as soon as symptoms are noticed. For that reason, people with herpes should keep a supply of the medicine on hand.

    If you have 6 or more outbreaks a year or have severe outbreaks, you may benefit from taking antiviral medicine every day. It may reduce the number of outbreaks by about 1 or 2 episodes a year.

    If you take antiviral medicine every day, you may want to talk to your doctor about not taking the medicine for a short period each year. This can show whether your outbreaks are starting to occur less frequently. Then you can decide whether to keep taking the medicine.

    People with impaired immune systems may be more likely to:

    • Need daily antiviral medicine to prevent recurrent outbreaks.
    • Develop a resistance to some antiviral medicines. For these people, other medicines are available, but they must be given through a vein (intravenously, or IV) and can have dangerous side effects.

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  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    If you haven't been diagnosed with genital herpes, call your doctor if you have any of the following:

    • Painful blisters or sores in the genital or pelvic area.
    • Burning or pain while urinating, or you are unable to urinate.
    • Abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis.
    • Reason to think you've been exposed to genital herpes.

    If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes, call your doctor if you are having frequent outbreaks.

    If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, or if you think you have genital herpes, tell your doctor.

    Watchful waiting

    If you have only occasional outbreaks of genital herpes and are comfortable with home treatment, watchful waiting may be all you need.

    Who to see

    Health professionals who can diagnose genital herpes include:

    • Nurse practitioners.
    • Physician assistants.
    • Family medicine physicians.
    • Internists.
    • Gynecologists.

    Treatment may require a referral to a specialist, such as:

    • A gynecologist.
    • A urologist.
    • A dermatologist.
    • An infectious disease specialist.

    To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

      © Healthwise, Incorporated.

    • 1 Answer
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      AJill Grimes, MD, Family Medicine, answered
      Daily valacyclovir (suppressive treatment) can reduce viral shedding and therefore reduce transmission of herpes. Abstinence during outbreaks paired with condom use in between outbreaks reduces the transmission of herpes to an uninfected partner.
    • 1 Answer
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      AJill Grimes, MD, Family Medicine, answered
      Abstinence from sexual intimacy (direct genital contact; oral, vaginal, and/or anal sex) is the only 100% effective prevention. Condom use decreases transmission but is not totally effective because virus can be shed outside of the area that condoms cover. Use new condoms for each partner with any shared sex toys, or preferably, do not share sex toys.
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      AGood In Bed answered
      Many worry about the future of their love life after a genital herpes diagnosis.  They wonder how they’ll share the information with new partners. Or they worry about passing herpes on to a partner.

      The fact is, everyone has past complication that’s going to come up with a new partner. Dating and mating with genital herpes simply requires a little more planning and a lot more education --for both partners. It’s important for someone with herpes to learn about how to minimize the chance of passing herpes to a partner and put these practices to work in his or her sex life. And there’s no reason to talk with a new partner about herpes until you think you may be heading for a sexual relationship.

      Some are open-minded about dating someone with herpes, while others are not.  Herpes simply becomes one more bit of information evaluated for compatibility and a shared willingness to move forward with the relationship. If you simply feel too uncomfortable with the thought of discussing herpes with an unaffected partner, consider online support groups where those with herpes meet each other, both for friendship and dating. These sites can be a good way to ease back into the world of dating.
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      AGood In Bed answered
      Many single people with genital herpes struggle with when and how to tell a new partner that they have this common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Some worry that they will lead a partner on by not being honest from the start, while others all but assume they will be rejected if a partner learns they have herpes and, as a result, may avoid the issue for some time. Perhaps unfairly, those with oral herpes do not struggle with the same concerns, even though there is little difference between the two forms of herpes except for location.

      For many, the right time to talk about genital herpes with a new partner is when you both feel ready to start a sexual relationship, or earlier if you are more comfortable bringing up the conversation well before you may begin a sexual relationship. In most cases, however, there’s no reason to share you have genital herpes, or any other particularly sensitive issue, too early in a relationship before you have had a chance to get to know each other and develop trust; it may be a moot point if a relationship doesn’t develop.

      When you do decide to bring up herpes, keep the conversation relatively brief, offer to answer any questions, and say you’re willing to provide more information or go on the Web together to read about it. Reassure a partner that there are easy ways to reduce the chances of passing genital herpes to him or her -- with medication, safer sex practices, and abstinence before and during outbreaks.

      Also, it’s important for those with genital herpes to take care of themselves, too. Make sure you feel safe and comfortable with someone, before you share that you have genital herpes and consider beginning a sexual relationship.
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      The virus that causes genital herpes, herpes simplex type 2, can sometimes infect other areas of the body. Although uncommon, the herpes simplex virus can enter the skin through a cut in the fingers and cause pain and swelling. A genital  infection might move up into your colon, causing difficulties in your gastrointestinal tract. The virus can also infect the brain, which can lead to seizures, disorientation, and even death. People with the skin condition eczema should avoid anyone with a herpes outbreak because it can lead to a serious skin infection.

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      People with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS, may experience more severe symptoms during a genital herpes outbreak. Sores may be more painful or take a longer time to heal. Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system and genital herpes.

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      Although there is no way to get rid of the virus that causes genital herpes, antiviral medications can help you manage your symptoms. As soon as you feel an outbreak coming on, use an antiviral medication to help ease pain and irritation and to reduce the duration of the outbreak. Talk to your doctor about possible antiviral treatments.