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Know Your Status: The Transmission Risks for Genital Herpes

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Genital herpes affects about 417 million people aged 15 to 49 worldwide, according to the 2017 data of the World Health Organization (WHO). Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes. In the US, it affects over one out of every six individuals in the same age group.

Although the infection is common, not many have an idea as to how it spreads and how to minimize risks.

What is Herpes?

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is a long-term condition. Some people are not aware they have acquired or passed it on because of a lack of knowledge about the condition. You can take initial steps to avoid or prevent its spread by taking a fast herpes diagnosis online. Of course, you’ll still need to go to a doctor to get checked and receive treatment.

Another way to avoid or prevent this long-term condition is to differentiate the myth from the fact:

Having multiple sexual partners is the only way to get herpes.

The absence of obvious symptoms, such as small red bumps, pain, white blisters, or itching, would make you think you don’t have herpes. Even when you’re in a monogamous relationship, you’re still at risk of acquiring or transmitting the virus because you may not show symptoms. And without realizing you have the virus, you may pass it on to your partner unknowingly.

You didn’t have an intercourse with someone with genital herpes so you wouldn’t have it.

Intercourse is not the only way to acquire this STD. This infection can spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. You’re likely to acquire herpes through kissing, touching, and other skin contacts.

How is Genital Herpes Transmitted?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains genital herpes spreads through penetrative sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a person who has the infection. You might get the infection after having contact with the herpes virus in sore or genital secretions, as well.

Engaging in oral sex with someone who has oral herpes, another type of infection, increases your risk of acquiring genital herpes. But touching objects around you, such as beddings, toilet seats, or dipping in a swimming pool, won’t give you the disease.

Additionally, women are more likely to have genital herpes than men because of female anatomy. Small tears in vaginal tissue increase the chances of getting genital herpes. One in five women ages 14 to 49 has this infection compared to one in 10 men of the same age group.

If you’re pregnant, it’s vital to inform your doctor you have acquired or have been exposed to genital herpes. This may lead to miscarriage or early delivery. Your unborn child may also get the infection in utero or during delivery.

Your doctor may prescribe anti-herpes medicine during your pregnancy to reduce your risk of having symptoms when giving birth. The doctor has to make sure you don’t have herpes sores before delivery; otherwise, you have to undergo a C-section.

Herpes Diagnosis and Reducing Your Risks

Doctor with patient taking notes

Two to 12 days after exposure to the virus, you’ll see symptoms of genital herpes. These symptoms may include:

  • Pain or itching in your genital area
  • Tiny white blisters or small red bumps
  • Ulcers (they usually form when blisters rupture and ooze or bleed)
  • Scabs (these occur when ulcers heal)

You’re likely to experience flu-like signs and symptoms, including headache, muscle aches, fever, and swollen lymph nodes on your groin, during an initial outbreak. Once you or your partner have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor.

Your doctor would take a sample from the sore and test it. A blood test is also a way to diagnose herpes. Have an honest conversation with your doctor for a more accurate diagnosis.

Staying in a mutually monogamous relationship with someone who doesn’t have an STD helps reduce the risk of genital herpes. You or your partner should also wear protection and always practice safe sex to avoid acquiring such conditions. Have yourself checked regularly, particularly if you’re sexually active.

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