Genital herpes: causes, consequences, remedies
Not always easy to recognize genital herpes! This infection, still taboo, nevertheless affects 20% of French people.
It can appear at any time in the cycle, even during your period. It is therefore recommended to use a soft external protection such as period panties .
How to recognize it and what are the consequences? We tell you everything about genital herpes...
What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which is manifested by the presence of small blisters in the genitals, pelvic floor and anal area. It affects both men and women.
Genital herpes is caused by two types of Herpes simplex virus:
- type 1 (HSV1) which is also responsible for oral herpes. In this case, herpes is contracted by oral-genital relationship or even by self-contamination.
- type 2 (HSV2) which is responsible for most genital herpes. Once contracted, it stays in the body and lodges in a nerve ganglion near the spine. There is therefore a risk of recurrence.
You can very well be a carrier of the virus without showing symptoms and without knowing it.
How to recognize genital herpes?
Between fungal infections , irritations or even vaginitis, it is sometimes difficult to know what is going on in our panties! While genital herpes can easily be mistaken for inflammation, there are some symptoms that may give you a heads up.
In women, the attack usually begins with vulvar oedema, that is to say a slight swelling of the vulva which is accompanied by itching and a burning sensation. 24 to 48 hours later, small blisters filled with a transparent liquid appear. They are easily recognized because they look like small bubbles that pop up in groups. When these vesicles burst, they give way to generally very painful oozing lesions. They then turn into scabs, marking the end of the crisis.
Other symptoms, such as fever or malaise, can occur during a herpes outbreak.
What causes genital herpes?
Contrary to popular belief, genital herpes is not caused by poor hygiene and cannot be caught in the toilet or swimming pool. The virus only survives 2 hours outside the human body. It is still not recommended to use the towel of a person in the middle of a crisis.
Herpes is mainly contracted during sexual intercourse with a partner with active lesions. Simple caresses with the hand are enough to transmit it. A person with oral herpes can also self-infect. We can never repeat it enough: wash your hands and protect yourself.
What are the consequences of genital herpes?
If genital herpes can be difficult to live with on a daily basis, especially during crises, the infection does not have serious consequences on health. People carrying the virus must especially be vigilant during sexual intercourse. In addition to the risks of contamination of the partner, herpes is a factor of HIV infection. So we do not skip the condom!
On the other hand, pregnant women with genital herpes can infect their baby during delivery. If this is your case, it is important to talk about it with your doctor, because the virus can have serious consequences on newborns. But do not panic, cases of contamination from mother to child remain rare.
How to treat genital herpes?
Unfortunately, the genital herpes virus cannot be cured. Once contracted, it remains in the body for life. That said, there are treatments to reduce the frequency of seizures as well as the pain. Your doctor may in particular prescribe creams to be applied locally or preventive tablets if you have recurrences at least six times a year.
In case of doubt or unprotected sex, consult a doctor to get tested. This is the only way to know if you have contracted the virus or if it is just inflammation.
What are the risks of recurrence?
Rest assured: 50% to 70% of those affected do not have a recurrence after the first attack of genital herpes. For others, it usually happens following a triggering factor such as flu, stress or even menstruation.
During a recurrence, the virus leaves the nerve ganglion in which it was lodged and follows the nerves to go into the skin. It thus causes the appearance of small vesicles in the vulva, buttocks, cervix and sometimes even the legs.
If it can be restrictive, over time, recurrences of herpes are less and less frequent...