What is Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)?
Genital Herpes is a viral sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is spread through skin to skin contact with a person already living with the virus. There are two kinds of herpes viruses that can cause genital herpes: Herpes Simplex 1 and Herpes Simplex 2.
Herpes Simplex 1 is the common cold sore that is often found around your mouth, but it can be spread to the genitals through oral sex. Herpes Simplex 2 is more commonly found on the genitals, but it can be spread to the mouth through oral sex. The virus can also be passed from parent to baby during childbirth, especially if you have an outbreak during the time of delivery.
Symptoms of genital herpes include sores on or around the vulva, penis, scrotum, anus or boxer short area (area where a pair of boxer shorts would cover). With a first outbreak you may feel like you are getting the flu. Herpes can sometimes be spread to other parts of your body.
Testing for genital herpes is most often done by taking a swab of the sore(s). Blood tests can also detect the presence of the virus. If you have a lump, bump or sore that looks out of place, have it looked at by your physician or health care provider.
Transmission and Treatment
The most risky time for sexual transmission of herpes is when sores are present. The sores heal, but new outbreaks of sores can occur. Herpes can be passed to other people even when sores are not present. Medications can help reduce the incidence of herpes sores, but herpes cannot be cured. Outbreaks tend to be farther apart over time and cover a smaller area of skin.