Herpes is an infection caused by the Herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is of 2 types: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 3.7 million people under age 50 have HSV-1, and 490 million people age 15 to 49 have HSV-2 infection. In this article, we will cover more details on Genital Herpes in Women.
Individuals who already have had Herpes simplex virus-1 infection are not at risk of getting it again, but they are still at risk of acquiring Herpes simplex virus-2 genital infection.
In this article, we discuss genital herpes in women, symptoms of herpes, how herpes is transmitted, how can it be cured, how to treat it, how to prevent it and how to get tested.
- What is Herpes?
- Is herpes an STD?
- What it Genital herpes?
- How common is genital herpes?
- What are the Genital herpes symptoms in women?
- How is genital herpes transmitted?
- Is genital herpes deadly?
- What is the treatment for genital herpes?
- Is genital herpes curable?
- How to prevent herpes?
- How to get tested for Herpes?
- Providers location
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a common infection and a long-term condition that stays in your body for Life. It generally causes sores on your genitals or mouth. But it doesn’t lead to any serious health problem. This virus stays in the external genitalia, anal region, mucosal surfaces, and skin in other parts of your body. However, many people do not show any symptoms even though they are carrying the virus. The world health organization is doing additional research to develop more effective prevention methods against HSV infection, such as several candidates HSV vaccines are currently being studied.
Is herpes an STD?
When you go in for a routine STI checkup, you might realize that your doctor doesn’t test you for herpes. According to the world health organization, about 65 percent of all people aged less than 50 have HSV-1. Although, HSV-1 is technically not a Sexually transmitted disease, but you can potentially catch the virus through sex. For instance, if you receive oral sex from a person who is infected with HSV-1, there’s a high risk of their saliva getting into your body. HSV-1 can also be transmitted to your genitals while having sex, that is, it can also be considered an STD if it leads to genital herpes.
What is Genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) which is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Sexual contact is one of the primary ways that the virus spreads into your body. After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in your body for life and it can reactivate several times in a year. There’s no cure for genital herpes, but medications can help to ease the symptoms and reduce the risk of infecting your partner or others. Using condoms can also help to prevent the spread of genital herpes infection.
How common is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is super-common in the United States. More than one out of every six people aged 14-49 years are infected with genital herpes. Most people affected by HSV have not diagnosed and do not show any symptoms. Genital herpes infections are the most contagious form of infection. An individual affected with HSV-2 is most likely to acquire and transmit the HIV infection that causes AIDS. But the good news is that the HSV 1 and 2 infections have been decreasing in the population nowadays.
Herpes infections were declined in the United States in recent years. But, however, about half of teens and adults under age 50 are still infected with the oral herpes virus, and about 1 in 8 have an infection with the genital herpes virus. The new report published by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed information from people in the U.S. ages 14 to 49 that have been infected with herpes, as part of a national survey. The screening involved blood tests that researched for antibodies against two types of herpes viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which most commonly causes oral herpes and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes in women and men.
The results showed that, overall, about 48 percent of people of this age group had HVS-1, and about 12 percent had HSV-2. Infections were also more common among older age groups.
What are the Genital herpes symptoms in women?
Many women do not experience symptoms for months or years after becoming infected by HSV. Those who do have symptoms during the initial period will usually notice them 4 days after exposure, the average range is between 2-12 days.
Most of the women with HSV infection have recurring herpes. When a person is first infected, the recurrences tend to happen frequently. Over time, the remission period gets longer, and each occurrence tends to become less severe. The following are the two kinds of infection symptoms:
Primary infection symptoms
Primary infection is an outbreak of genital herpes that occurs when a person is first infected. The symptoms are quite severe and may include:
- Blisters and ulcer on the external genitalia, vagina or in the cervix
- Vaginal discharge
- Pain and itching
- Tender, enlarged lymph nodes
- Pain when urinating
- High temperature
- Malaise (feeling unwell)
- Red blisters on the skin
In most of the cases, the ulcers will heal, and the individual will not have any lasting scars if diagnosed at an early stage.
Recurrent infection symptoms
Recurrent infection symptoms tend to be less severe and do not last as long as they do in the primary infection. The symptoms of recurrent infection will not last more than 10 days and include:
- Burning or tingling before blisters appear around genitals
- Women will have blisters and ulceration on the cervix
- Cold sores around the mouth
- Red blisters
Eventually, recurrences happen rarely and are much less dangerous.
How is genital herpes transmitted?
Genital herpes in women is most common than are men. The Herpes virus is sexually transmitted more easily from men to women than it is from women to men. When HSV is present on the skin of an infected person, it can easily be passed on to some other person through the moist skin that lines the mouth, anus, and genitals. The virus can also spread to another individual through the other areas of skin, as well as the eyes.
An individual will not get HSV infected from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels that has been touched by an infected person. HSV Infection can occur in the following ways:
- Having unprotected vaginal or anal sex
- Having oral sex with a person who has cold sores
- If your partner has oral herpes, the infection may transmit through saliva
- Sharing sex toys
- Having genital contact with an infected person
- A herpes sore
The virus is passed on to another person just before the blister appears when it is visible, and until the blister is completely healed. HSV can still be transmitted to another person when there are no signs of an outbreak, although the chances are less in this case.
During birth, if a mother with genital herpes has sores, it is possible that the infection will be passed on to the baby.
What is the treatment for genital herpes?
Your Physician may first prescribe antiviral at an early stage when a person starts showing symptoms. No drug can get rid of the herpes virus infection. Doctors may prescribe an antiviral, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, the most recommended medications for the people infected with HSV. Antiviral medications will help the outbreak to clear up faster and also helps to reduce the severity of symptoms, but cannot cure the infection. Do not take these antivirals without consulting your physician. It’s always better to consult your physician before consuming any antiviral. Some people believe that using ice packs can help. Never apply ice directly to the skin, always make sure to wrap it in a cloth or towel first.
Episodic treatment is for those people who have less than six recurrences in a year. Your physician may prescribe a 5-day course of antiviral each time only when the symptoms appear.
If a person experiences more than six recurrences in a year, then your physician may prescribe suppressive treatment. In a few cases, your physician may recommend to you to take daily antiviral treatment indefinitely. The main aim is to prevent further recurrences. Although suppressive treatment significantly reduces the risk of passing HSV to your partner, there is still a high risk. So we highly recommend you to get tested if you start showing any minor symptoms in and around genitals.
Is genital herpes deadly?
For most people, genital herpes isn’t deadly and doesn’t cause any serious health problem. Aside from the discomfort, herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection is more of a psychological stressor. In some cases, though, the complications from genital herpes can be serious, even life-threatening. While HSV can be annoying and Painful, the first stage is usually the worse. For many people, the outbreak occurs less over time and will eventually stop completely. You will not be developing sores all the time even though the virus hangs around your body for life.
Is genital herpes curable?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes. However, there are medications that can prevent or shorten outbreaks of HSV. Anti-herpes medicines can be taken daily So that you don’t pass the infection on to your sex partner. If you touch your sores or the fluids that come from your sores, there is a risk you may transfer herpes to another part of your body, such as your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids of the sores to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading your infection to other parts or to some other person.
How to prevent herpes?
Some people find that stress, being tired, friction against the skin, or sunbathing may trigger recurrences of symptoms in their bodies. But identifying and avoiding these triggers may help reduce the risk of recurrences. The suggestions for preventing genital herpes in women are as same as those for preventing other sexually transmitted infections (STI). The following are the measures to be taken to reduce the risk of developing or passing on genital herpes:
- Use or have your partner use a latex condom during every sexual contact
- Avoid intercourse if either partner has an outbreak of herpes in the genital areas or anywhere else (genital, anal, or skin-to-skin)
- Do not kiss when there is a cold sore around your mouth
Genital herpes in women: Pregnancy precautions
If you’re pregnant and know you have genital herpes, inform your physician immediately and ask to be tested for it.
Your physician may recommend you to start taking herpes antiviral medications late in your pregnancy to try to prevent an outbreak around the time of delivery. In a worst-case scenario, if you’re having an outbreak during your labor, the physician will probably suggest a cesarean section to reduce the risk of passing the virus to your baby.
How to get tested for Herpes?
Your physician usually can test genital herpes based on a physical exam and from the results of certain laboratory tests:
- Viral culture – This test involves taking a tissue sample and/or scraping the sores for examination in the laboratory
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test – PCR is used to copy your DNA from a sample of your blood, tissue from sore or from the spinal fluid. The DNA is then being tested to establish the presence of HSV and determine which type of HSV you are infected with.
- Blood test – This test helps in analyzing a sample of your blood for the presence of HSV antibodies to detect past herpes infection.
Herpes is a very common infection among the youth. We highly recommend you to get tested for Herpes if you experience any of the above symptoms before the infection gets severe.
The following table shows the Herpes test cost at 3 of our partner laboratories (CLIA – Certified) network located across the U.S.A
Name of our Partner Labs
(Home Test Kit)
Is there any preparation required before the test?
The herpes test requires only a blood sample or a sample collected using the swab from the sore. No fasting or any other special preparation is required before the herpes test.
Herpes STD testing can be done in any of the following locations across the U.S. either by visiting the lab or by shopping the herpes STD home test kit.
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover my testing cost?
No, insurance will not be covered in the billing. However, they will provide you a receipt for insurance reimbursement purposes.
How should I book my appointment?
You can choose the most suitable provider from above and make an appointment by following the instructions mentioned by them.
Can I cancel my lab test order?
Yes, you can cancel your lab test order anytime before your testing. A refund will be initiated after deducting the cancellation fee. However, cancellation is at the discretion of the provider.
Do the providers offer result interpretations?
Yes, a few providers may provide doctor consultation who will take you through the results and provide clarification if needed.
How do I receive my report?
To ensure your privacy, the test report will be mailed to you by the provider.
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