Herpes

Treatment

Genital herpes is a widespread sexually transmitted disease transferred between sexual partners who have unprotected intercourse, including oral sex. The herpes virus can be transferred by genital-to-genital, genital-to-oral, or oral-to-oral contact. Although oral-to-oral contact typically results in oral herpes.

The condition is caused by the herpes simplex virus, which can remain dormant in your body for years and cause random herpes outbreaks over time.Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is responsible for most oral transmission, while herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is dominant in genital transmission.

Serious complications, although extremely rare, may include:

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Higher chance of getting and passing HIV

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Ongoing, frequent and painful outbreaks

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Eye herpes

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Brain infection and inflammation (encephalitis or meningitis)

Herpes symptoms in men, especially when associated with genital herpes caused by HSV-2, can vary in their presentation and severity. The initial outbreak of genital herpes can sometimes be confused with another disease for many, as it results in flu-like symptoms alongside the typical physical manifestations of the infection. Other herpes symptoms in men include:

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Burning or pain during urination

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Genital sores or blisters

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Penile discharge

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Swollen glands in your pelvic region

More common in women than in men, herpes symptoms in women often vary in severity and appearance. Often being accompanied by flu-like symptoms during the first outbreak, the disease most often comes with physical blemishes at the site of the infection and can additionally include: 

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Burning or pain during urination

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Genital sores or blisters

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Painful sex

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Vaginal discharge

Genital herpes is primarily caused by the herpes simplex virus, specifically HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2), although it can also be caused by HSV-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1). The virus is typically transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person. After the initial infection, the virus remains in the body, often in a dormant state, and can periodically reactivate, leading to recurrent outbreaks of genital sores and other symptoms.

When not exhibiting physical symptoms in the form of blisters, doctors can take a blood test, culture, Polymerase Chain Reaction test, or other laboratory test to determine if HSV is the culprit. However, normally doctors only require a visual examination and confirmation of the condition during an outbreak for a herpes diagnosis. 

While both oral and vaginal herpes cannot be treated, the condition can be managed down through treatment with antiviral medications. The medications used work by inhibiting the replication of the herpes virus, reducing the severity and duration of outbreaks. Depending on the individual's situation, they can be taken either during an active outbreak or as a daily suppressive therapy to minimize the frequency and intensity of recurrent outbreaks. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to alleviate discomfort associated with herpes sores, and self-care measures, such as maintaining hygiene and avoiding irritation of the affected area, can help in the healing process.

NOTE: Lab testing is NOT required prior to treatment if you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.


CallonDoc offers both at-home test kits and in-person lab testing. After treatment we recommend a test of cure 2-3 weeks after completing treatment to confirm clearing the infection.

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Acyclovir

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Valacyclovir

Ongoing management of herpes, alongside antiviral medications, involves a combination of strategies to minimize the impact of the condition on one's life and reduce the risk of transmission. For those with frequent outbreaks, daily suppressive therapy using antiviral medications may be recommended to decrease the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Practicing safe sex, including the consistent use of condoms and dental dams, is crucial to prevent transmission to sexual partners, especially during active outbreaks. Education and awareness about the virus, its triggers, and recognizing the prodromal symptoms (early warning signs of an impending outbreak) can help individuals take timely action. Maintaining good personal hygiene, avoiding irritants, and keeping the affected area clean and dry can also promote healing and comfort. 

Preventing herpes primarily involves practicing safe sex to reduce the risk of transmission. This includes consistently using condoms and dental dams during sexual activity and avoiding sex when there is an active outbreak or when sores are present. Open and honest communication about herpes status with sexual partners is essential to make informed decisions. It's important to recognize the prodromal symptoms (early warning signs) of an impending outbreak to take precautionary measures. Overall, education, awareness, and responsible sexual behavior are key to preventing the spread of herpes.

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FAQ

Genital herpes is one of the world’s most common STDs, transmitted during unprotected sex. However, some forms of herpes, including oral herpes, can be transferred through skin-to-skin contact or kissing. Genital herpes causes painful blisters to form around your genitalia and may be accompanied by several uncomfortable symptoms related to the blisters.
Most people only get diagnosed with genital herpes years after they