What You Should Know About Herpes

Aug 01, 2022
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What You Should Know About Herpes

Genital herpes affects one out of every six adults in the United States. When you’re symptomatic, it shows up as painful and itchy sores in your genital area. Most cases of herpes present no symptoms even though you may be contagious. 

The virus spreads through sexual contact, including oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse. Once you’re infected, there’s no cure. The virus lays dormant in your body and can reactivate when triggered. 

At St. Michael’s Elite Hospital, located in Sugar Land, Texas, we see patients with genital herpes. We can help you reduce outbreaks and learn how to change your behaviors to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

Here’s what we want you to know about this common STD. 

When should I suspect I have herpes?

In most cases, you won’t even realize you have genital herpes because your symptoms are nonexistent or incredibly mild. 

If you do have signs, they usually show up 2-12 days after infection. You may experience:

  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Scabs as ulcers heal
  • Small red bumps or tiny white blisters

The first time you’re infected you might also experience fever, body aches, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes.

The sores may appear on your buttocks, thighs, anus, mouth, or urethra. Women can have these blisters on the external genitalia, the vaginal area, or the cervix while men have sores on their penis and scrotum. 

The sores, pain, and itching recur off and on for years. You may experience multiple outbreaks each year, but with time, these outbreaks are less frequent. The recurrences are usually less severe than the initial outbreak. 

How do you get herpes?

Genital herpes is spread through sexual contact. That includes oral sex. Someone with an active oral herpes infection can spread herpes to the genitalia through their saliva.

You need to come into direct contact with a herpes sore or saliva or genital fluids of a partner with an active oral herpes infection. It is possible to contract herpes from someone who does not have a visible sore. 

Herpes does not spread through toilet seats, swimming pools, towels, or bedding. 

How do I avoid getting herpes or spreading the infection?

The best way to avoid contracting herpes or other STDs is to maintain a mutually monogamous relationship in which both partners have been previously tested and treated for any infections. 

We offer testing for STDs. It’s smart to get tested yearly if you’re sexually active with multiple partners.

Sexually active individuals should also use a latex condom during all sexual contact. If one partner has an outbreak of herpes, avoid sexual intercourse.

How is herpes treated?

If you have genital herpes, you have it for life. We can offer prescription antiviral medications to reduce the frequency of outbreaks and lessen their severity. Antivirals can also help your sores heal faster and reduce the risk that you’ll transmit the virus to your partner. 

Be open and honest with your partner, too. Know that the herpes virus can lay dormant in your body for several years, so it’s difficult to know when you initially became infected. 

To schedule your STD test, contact St. Michael's Elite Hospital in Sugar Land, Texas, today. Call or use the website to set up your appointment.