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People can transmit herpes from the first sign of pain or itching until the scabs fall off.
Genital herpes is a viral infection and NOT curable, but it can be treated to control symptoms. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by either of the two herpes simplex viruses (HSV). The symptoms of a first outbreak of genital herpes usually appear 2 to 10 days after exposure to herpes and last an average of 2 to 3 weeks. Blisters or other sores on the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, buttocks, or (rarely) elsewhere on the body.
Periodically, herpes becomes active once again, leading either to a recurrent outbreak or to subclinical shedding of the virus.
In most people with genital herpes, the virus reactivates from time to time and causes symptoms. Recurrent episodes usually are milder than those of the first episode and typically last about 1-2 weeks. Some people experience red bumps that become blisters then open sores as for the first episode of genital herpes.
Many recurrences are very mild; they may cause only a minor itch, irritation or a small painless sore. Genital herpes can reactivate without causing noticeable bumps, blisters, or sores, or other symptoms. Oral herpes (cold sores) probably are acquired mostly by kissing or other kinds of by nonsexual personal contact. If you have genital herpes, you are very infectious whenever you are having an outbreak (either initial or recurrent). Sexual intercourse and oral sex are the only ways genital herpes is transmitted; it is not transmitted by sitting on contaminated toilet seats, by hot tubs or swimming pools, or through other kinds of non-intimate contact. Abstinence from sex is the surest way to avoid getting genital herpes–not having any anal, oral or vaginal sex. The next surest way is to limit sex to one uninfected partner who only has sex with you–mutual monogamy. If you have a partner with genital herpes, do not have sex—even with a condom— when he or she is having a herpes outbreak (from prodrome until the blisters are completely healed).
Similarly, if your partner has oral herpes, he or she should not perform oral sex on you during outbreaks. Between outbreaks, condoms used correctly and consistently (every time you have sex) can reduce the risk of transmission.
Please Note: Condoms are not as effective at preventing herpes transmission as they are at preventing the transmission of some other STDs. You should tell your partners that you have herpes before you have sex with them—even if you aren’t having an outbreak and intend to use a condom.
Be aware of very mild symptoms that might be due to herpes and avoid sex during those times. Between outbreaks, condoms should be used correctly and consistently to minimize transmission.
At least one of the antiviral drugs used to treat herpes can help prevent transmission to sex partners. There is no cure for genital herpes infection, but certain antiviral medications (valacyclovir, famciclovir, or acyclovir) are very effective in speeding healing and in helping prevent recurrent outbreaks. The first episode of genital herpes is almost always treated with an antiviral drug, which markedly speeds healing.
Some people with recurrent genital herpes take antiviral medication during each recurrent outbreak to speed healing.

Herpes infection of the newborn (neonatal herpes) is extremely serious; many babies die and those who survive may have severe, lifelong disabilities.
Women with longstanding recurrent genital herpes are at low risk for transmitting the virus to their babies. Any pregnant woman with genital herpes, or whose partner has either genital or oral herpes, should inform the doctor or other clinician providing care for the pregnancy. Remind your provider to check for herpes lesions when you go into labor, even if you haven’t noticed symptoms.
If you do not have active symptoms during delivery, you will probably be able to give birth vaginally. Ask your provider about whether you should take an antiviral medicine during the last month of pregnancy to prevent an outbreak.
Avoid contracting herpes; specifically, avoid sex with your infected partner during the last 3 months of pregnancy. If your partner has oral herpes, avoid receiving oral sex during the last 3 months of pregnancy. The Adult Men’s Evening Clinic 2421 SW 6th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315 (954) 298-1749 Tue-Wed. We provide a welcoming, safe space - an inclusive home that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBTQ communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida.
Many people who are newly infected with herpes overlook their symptoms either because the symptoms are mild or because they are unaware of the possibility of herpes infection.
Small red bumps usually appear first, then develop into blisters, and then become painful, open sores. Some people report that stress, other illness, or menstruation bring on an outbreak of genital herpes.
Some have pain where lesions will not appear, such as the buttocks, back of legs or even lower back. However, in recurrent outbreaks, there usually are fewer lesions and they don’t last as long as the first outbreak; pain usually lasts for 3 – 5 days and healing usually occurs in 10 – 14 days.
But whether mild or severe, herpes can be very stressful and can be challenging for personal relationships.
Some persons become depressed or anxious because they fear recurrent outbreaks, transmission to sex partners, or difficulties in developing new relationships. However, you can also transmit herpes during periods of subclinical shedding of the virus, when you don’t have any symptoms. Therefore, it is very important for infected persons to recognize even very mild symptoms and avoid sex when they are present. Discuss the possibility of transmission and work out a risk reduction plan with your partner.
But this protection is not complete; even persons on treatment need to use condoms and avoid sex if herpes sores appear. If sores are present, your provider will swab the sores and perform a viral culture test for the virus.
A blood test can detect herpes antibodies 4 – 6 weeks after the first infection; testing before that time will not give an accurate result.
Treatment must be started at the very first sign of an outbreak, preferably during the prodrome (if one is present).
Suppressive therapy can lower the number of outbreaks and, for many persons, prevent them altogether.
After bathing, carefully dry affected areas gently with a soft, clean towel, or use a hair dryer set on low. The highest risk occurs when the mother first catches genital herpes during the last 3 months of pregnancy.

To be safe however, a cesarean section often is done if a woman with recurrent herpes has an outbreak when she goes into labor. In some cases, a type specific herpes blood test of the woman and her partner can help determine the risk and reduce the chance of neonatal herpes. HSV type 1 (HSV-1) is the cause of herpes sores on the lips and in the mouth (often called fever blisters or cold sores), but it also causes up to 30% of genital herpes cases. Studies show that most people with genital herpes do not realize they are infected; they either have never had symptoms or have not recognized their symptoms as herpes. Most persons have several outbreaks a year, but some—especially those with HSV-1 genital infections—may have only 1 or 2 outbreaks a year or none at all.
However, research indicates that these factors, in fact, have little effect; recurrent outbreaks probably occur randomly. Fortunately, proper treatment and knowledge about the true risks—which usually are less than infected persons first fear—can greatly lessen all these effects. Most cases are acquired through vaginal or anal intercourse with a person who has genital HSV-2 infection. This method is not always reliable; if the sores are starting to heal, the test might be negative even if you have herpes.
A positive antibody test means that you are infected with HSV and are contagious from time to time.
Suppressive therapy also reduces (but does not eliminate) subclinical shedding, and recent research shows that one antiviral drug helps reduce sexual transmission of herpes. Therefore, the main way to prevent neonatal herpes is for pregnant women without genital herpes to avoid exposure to HSV near the end of pregnancy. During these times, herpes can be transmitted to an uninfected sex partner even though there are no symptoms. Genital herpes infections almost never cause permanent disability or long-term damage in healthy adults.
Some cases are acquired through oral sex; this probably is the main is the main way persons get genital herpes due to HSV-1.
It does not indicate when you were infected with HSV nor does it indicate which body site is infected (e.g.
Although episodic treatment speeds healing, for most persons outbreaks are shortened only by one or two days. However, prevention is not complete; even if you are taking suppressive therapy, you must inform your partner that you have herpes and continue to take precautions to protect your uninfected sex partner(s).
Subclinical shedding is most frequent in the first year after the initial infection, but it continues on and off for several years. In people who have suppressed immune systems (such as people with HIV) herpes episodes can be long-lasting and unusually severe, but even these usually can be effectively prevented or treated. With proper treatment and open communication, herpes almost never prevents a healthy, rewarding sex life. If you and your health care provider choose episodic therapy, fill your prescription ahead of time and have it ready before an outbreak so you can begin treatment immediately. Contrary to what many people have heard, genital herpes does not cause cervical cancer or of any other kind of cancer. This is because persons with genital sores often avoid sex, but those with subclinical shedding don’t know it.

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