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What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a virus infection that causes painful blisters or open sores on the genital area. Symptoms will disappear within a few weeks, but the virus remains in the body for life. Samples from the blisters or sores are used for diagnosis. There is no cure for genital herpes. Antiviral drugs/creams are used to decrease the severity of the symptoms. Suppressive antiviral therapy is used to prevent occurrences and perhaps transmission.

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Dr. Angela Lowery, DNP
Family Practitioner

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2. Most genital herpes is caused by type 2. Most people will have no signs or symptoms from type 1 or type 2. When symptoms are present they occur in the form of one or more blisters on or around the genital or rectum.

Although signs and symptoms are not present and infected person can spread the disease.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by two types of viruses, herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2. People get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the disease. The sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals as well as the rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take weeks to heal. People may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches or swollen glands. Though there is no cure, there are antiviral medications that reduce the number of outbreaks and help them heal faster. People with type 2 herpes may have recurrent outbreaks four to six times per year. People with type 1 herpes in the genitals typically have outbreaks less than once yearly. People who have genital herpes, can ask their healthcare provider to do a blood test to find out which type they have.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. HSV-1 can cause genital herpes. But it more commonly causes infections of the mouth and lips, called "fever blisters."

Most people have no or few symptoms from herpes infection. When symptoms do occur, they usually appear as 1 or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender sores that may take up to 4 weeks to heal. Another outbreak can appear weeks or months later. But it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak.

Although the infection can stay in the body forever, the outbreaks tend to become less severe and occur less often over time. You can pass genital herpes to someone else even when you have no symptoms.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Genital herpes is an infection triggered by the herpes virus, which comes from the same family as cold sores, chicken pox, shingles, and perhaps even cancer.

Type I herpes causes cold sores around the mouth. Type II is transmitted through intercourse, but it can infect the mouth during oral sex. While herpes is not deadly, it is chronic. This means that once you get the virus, it stays with you and continues to break out from time to time.
 
After you are infected with genital herpes, you may feel vague, flu-like symptoms, along with swollen glands, pain in the legs and abdomen, sores on the genitals and mouth, and fever. These sores contain the virus. When the sores break out, the infection is gone. Interestingly, genital herpes can be transmitted even when no symptoms are present.

There is no cure for genital herpes. It is a viral infection, and antibiotics do not work.

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Both genital herpes and oral herpes are the result of a virus, the herpes simplex virus. Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes oral herpes, or cold sores, while herpes simplex virus type 2 causes genital herpes. In the case of genital herpes, small blisters or sores develop in the genital area, including the genitals, inner thighs, and buttocks. Genital herpes is almost always the result of sexual contact.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.