What is Genital Herpes?
This is the same virus that causes cold sores. It can cause painful ulcers (breaks in the skin) to appear. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection. In some people they may only get one episode of herpes, in others it can cause repeat episodes of genital ulcers.
How do I know I’ve got it?
- You may feel uncomfortable in your genital area
- You may see small painful blisters or ulcers
- You may feel generally unwell with a temperature, muscle aches and you may feel enlarged lymph glands (in your groin)
- Other things can cause breaks in the skin so it is important that you see a doctor to help confirm the diagnosis
How do you get it?
- From oral sex or genital to genital contact with someone who carries the Herpes simplex virus, they may not know they carry the virus
- You can get herpes without having penetrative sex
- You can get herpes even if you use condoms, as a condom does not cover the whole genital area
- Herpes simplex can be passed at birth from mother to baby
Where can I get tested?
If you think you may have herpes you can see your GP or contact your local Sexual Health clinic for advice.
What is the treatment?
- Antiviral tablets will help get rid of the ulcers. Your doctor will discuss with you how best to use these
- Taking painkillers to ease the pain will help
- If it is painful to pass urine it may be helpful to pass urine in the bath or shower. Drink lots of fluid to keep the urine dilute
- If you get repeat attacks, keep a record of when and how often you get them. This will be helpful for your doctor to decide what the best treatment is
How do I reduce the chance of passing herpes on to a partner?
- Always use a condom. The Herpes virus cannot pass through a condom, however a condom does not cover all the genital area
- Avoid having sex when the sores are present and are still healing
- Sometimes you can pass on the infection when there are no sores present, this is more likely to happen just before and just after the sores
- Before sores appear you may have an itching or tingling sensation, to reduce the chance of infection being passed on it is recommended to avoid genital contact at this time
- It is recommended that you explain to your partner that you have previously had herpes. The health advisers in the Sexual Health clinic can help you with ways to try to discuss this
How do I avoid getting repeat attacks of genital herpes?
- Avoid ‘triggers’, these are things that you have noticed that can bring on an attack eg: stress, or the use of sunbeds.
- Keep yourself as healthy as possible by eating well, keeping fit and not smoking