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Genital Herpes



Genital herpes is an infection of the genital region which can affect males and females. It is usually caused by the virus HSV type 2 (herpes simplex virus type 2) rather than HSV type 1, which generally causes similar lesions of the lips and mouth, the common cold sores. Both types of virus can cause genital herpes. The virus can be diagnosed by laboratory tests.

The initial infection may cause no symptoms but from then on the virus lies dormant in the body waiting to be reactivated.

Reactivation can occur with intercourse with a weakening of the body’s immune system due to stress, depression or generalised viral or debilitating illnesses and also with menstruation in the female. The incubation period is usually four to five days but ranges from two to twenty days.

During this period there is a feeling of being unwell with local irritation and sometimes pains down the legs. After about two days little blisters appear on the penis or woman’s vulva. In the woman herpes ulcers can be found also on the wall of the vagina and cervix. In the homosexual, lesions can be found in the ano-rectal region. These burst producing small ulcers which can be intensely painful with associated swelling of glands in the groin.

The first attack is most painful with following attacks producing less pain. In about 60% of cases there will continue to be further attacks following the initial reactivation, with the frequency gradually reducing over the years. Generally the first attack lasts approximately two weeks with recurrent attacks lasting seven days or less.

Multiple partners increase the chances of repeated infections which may also be of a more virulent nature. In pregnancy, a severe first attack of herpes in the first three months of the pregnancy may lead to a spontaneous abortion. However, with repeated attacks, a full term pregnancy is possible and quite common and it is stated that there is very little chance of infecting the baby. Your attending doctor is in a position to determine just how the baby is to be delivered to avoid any contact with the herpes virus.

Over recent years a new drug, acyclovir, has been found to relieve symptoms in the original and subsequent attacks of herpes genitalis. Acyclovir can be given intravenously, taken orally or be applied as a cream or ointment. At present it is very expensive and as the lesions will heal spontaneously its use is restricted to severe symptoms of pain often associated with urinary retention in the female and to severe recurrent attacks of herpes which can lead to psychosexual problems.

In the mild case simple cleaning with soap and water and thorough drying may be all that is necessary. A local anesthetic jelly will help to control the pain and difficulty in passing urine in the female if applied before using the toilet.

During a herpes attack intercourse is usually too painful to contemplate so the chances of passing the virus on at that time is unlikely. However, some herpes carriers can transfer the virus when they are symptom free, so it is a good idea to use condoms which certainly minimise the spread of herpes.

- Ageing - AIDS
- Anorgasmia - Barrier Methods of Contraception
- Frigidity - Genital Herpes
- Impotence - Loss of Libido
- Masturbation - Miscarriage
- Post Natal Depression - Pregnancy
- Premature Ejaculation - Retarded Ejaculation
- Sex and Disability - Sexual Activity during and after Pregnancy
- Smoking and Pregnancy - Stretch Marks in Pregnancy
- Syphilis and Gonorrhoea - Termination (Abortion)
- The I.U.D. (or Intra Uterine Device) - The Pill (Oral Contraceptive Pill or OCP)
- The Rhythm Method of Birth Control
or Natural Family Planning
- Tubal Ligation
- Vasectomy - What is Normal??


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