What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the
herpes simplex viruses (HSV) type 1 and type 2. Most genital herpes
is caused by HSV type 2.
Most people have no or minimal symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2
infection. When symptoms do occur, they usually appear as one or
more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters
break, leaving ulcers or tender sores that may take up to four
weeks to heal. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or
Although the infection can stay in the body forever, the number
of outbreaks usually decreases over a period of years. You can pass
genital herpes to someone else even when you experience no
How common is genital herpes?
About 45 million Americans, age 12 and older have genital
herpes. Its estimated that up to one million people become
infected each year. Genital Herpes (HSV-2) is more common in women
How can I get genital herpes?
Herpes is a virus that can be...
Understanding Herpes Testing
The most important fact to know in terms of Herpes testing is that
blood testing with an IgG test is the BEST test for diagnosing the disease.
first see the doctor for a suspicious genital ulcer, your health care provider
may ask a lot of really personal and embarrassing questions. Know
that having an accurate sexual history as well as a description of your
symptoms is very important as your health care provider evaluates you. Be honest.
medical history and physical examination alone can not diagnose herpes.
I've seen a
lot of genital herpes, but it's easy to be fooled. I've had patients who had lesions in unusual
places or didn't have a typical story that I mistook for abscesses - only after
they failed antibiotics did I do the culture and verify that it was
On the other hand, I've seen some very typical appearing ulcers on the genitals
that turned out NOT to be herpes.
Having HSV-1 or HSV-2 increases the risk of having a miscarriage during pregnancy, having premature labor and it also increases the possibility that your baby could have serious complications if exposed the virus. Between 20 and 25% of all pregnant women may have herpes, but of those, only about 0.01% will experience complications dring the pregnancy itself.
If you get herpes during the first trimester of pregnancy, it's unlikely you will have any serious problems. Your body will produce antibodies to the HSV-2 and those antibodies will get passed on to the baby and provide some protection. If you already have HSV2, then as soon as you get pregnant you would also hand off antibodies to your as yet unborn child. If you have HSV-1, the antibodies are not thought to offer as much protection.
If you get herpes in the last trimester or very late in pregnancy then you and the baby will have the highest risk of complications mostly because there i...
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