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Vaginal herpes

Vaginal herpes (commonly called “genital herpes”) is a sexually transmitted disease caused by specific virus HSV (herpes simplex virus). This virus is able to enter the skin and mucous membranes through tiny microscopic breaks in the skin and mucous membranes. Vaginal herpes could be transmitted by any type of sexual contacts with genital zone. Infected person can transmit and spread the disease even when he/she does not have any visible symptoms of HSV. This infection can be also spread through clothing which had contact with sick skin (with skin ulcers or vaginal herpes).

Herpes simplex virus infection is very common. Unfortunately thousands of infected people are not aware they are HSV positive (passive carrier of the virus). According to health statistics, about 15-16% of general adult reproductive age population (14-49) have been infected with HSV. Unfortunately this viral infection is more common in women than in men. At the same time, the spread from infected men to healthy women is happening faster than from infected women to healthy men. According to health experts, vaginal herpes can be also caused by mouth to genital contact with person who has cold sores or herpes infection of the mouth.

The average incubation period (period of time between contact and development of typical symptoms) is 4 days. But incubation period can vary from 2 days to 12 days depending on strength of immune system and general health status. It was noted that women with weak immune system, women suffering from general chronic diseases and women in stress could get HSV easier and could develop symptoms faster.

Vaginal herpes types

There are two types of herpes simplex virus – HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both types can infect human genitals and/or mouth. Most commonly HSV-1 triggers blisters and ulcers around the mouth (so called “cold sores”) and HSV-2 is responsible for vaginal herpes and genital blistering lesions.

After exposure herpes simplex virus travels through the nerves and resides in nerve tissue within the body.

Vaginal herpes symptoms

Genital herpes symptoms usually develop about four days after exposure to an infected person (between 2-12 days). Many women could have very mild symptoms that can be unrecognized or mistaken for another health conditions. Vaginal herpes symptoms can vary – some women could have severe symptoms just after few days after contacting HSV and some women could experience barely noticeable (almost not recognizable) signs of disease.

Vaginal herpes

Typical symptoms of genital herpes include:

  • Lesions (vaginal/genital sores, vesicles or ulcers) in anywhere in the genital area – these classic lesions often resemble small pimples or blisters that eventually crust over and finally scab like a small cut;
  • Painful blisters and/or ulcers in the genital area;
  • Fever, chills and swollen glands (particularly in the lymph nodes near the groin);
  • Genital itching;
  • Body aches;
  • Burning or tingling sensations in genital skin;
  • Blisters around the anal area;
  • Painful urination (sometimes with burning sensation);
  • Headaches.

Vaginal herpes symptoms come and go over lifetime due to reactivation of the virus (depending on immune system, emotional and physical status of women).

Vaginal herpes usually causes blistering lesions on the vulva and around the vaginal opening that progress to ulcer formation and virus spreads to involve the cervix in most cases, leading to cervical inflammation (cervicitis). Sometimes cervicitis could be the only symptom of disease. Women also can suffer from herpes spreading to urethra causing inflammation and pain during urination.

Vaginal herpes diagnosis

Typical symptoms of genital herpes can be identified by health experts. At the same time, HSV diagnosis can be done in qualified medical laboratories (viral culture and nucleic acid amplification tests). Thanks to immunologic tests, it is also possible to identify antibodies to genital herpes in blood sample.

Vaginal herpes treatment

Modern medicine of XXI century does not know the cure of genital herpes. At the same time, there are several methods (medications) which can treat different symptoms of disease making life easier and bearable. Antiviral medications are used to reduce the severity and frequency of genital herpes.

Some natural remedies can be also used for making symptoms mild and soothe.

Vaginal herpes prevention

In cases of possible sexual transmission condoms can be effective in preventing disease spread during sexual contacts.
In cases of skin-to-skin contacts and mouth-to-skin contacts prevention methods are not known.

Vaginal herpes prognosis

In general, prognosis is not positive because there is no cure and recurrent outbreaks could vary in frequency and severity.

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