Genital Herpes: Can You Have It and Not Know It?
ONE IN SIX.
The Centers for Disease Control state that one in six Americans from age 14 to 49 have genital herpes — a sobering statistic, particularly when it may show no symptoms. In fact, most people with herpes have only mild outbreaks that can easily be mistaken for something else. Following are five important indicators that you may have genital herpes — -even if you don’t show any signs.
1. RASH OR SKIN IRRITATION ON OR NEAR YOUR GENITALS.
It’s easy to mistake these for another condition such as ingrown hairs or pimples. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine the difference:
- Do the blisters break and leave painful sores?
- Do you have any flu-like symptoms such as fever or body aches? Ingrown hairs or acne will not cause these problems.
- Do the sores itch or tingle?
2. YOUR PARTNER HAS GENITAL HERPES.
If one of your previous sexual partners has had genital herpes, then you should get tested as soon as possible. Remember, it’s very possible that your partner didn’t know he or she had herpes when you were together. If you find that you do have herpes, it is vital that you contact every sexual partner you have had, since you may have inadvertently spread it to them.
3. PAINFUL URINATION
Herpes ulcers can also make it difficult to urinate. However, because several other diseases –including urinary tract infections — can present similar symptoms, it’s important to speak with your doctor.
4. PAIN IN YOUR BUTTOCKS AND LEGS
While genital herpes may be different for each person, it typically appears in the area where it entered the body. In addition, it can cause pain in the legs or buttocks.
5. THE RASH SUBSIDES THEN REAPPEARS
Herpes recurs off and on, although the amount of time between outbreaks varies from person to person. Sometimes, outbreaks may appear several times year, while for others, it becomes less frequent as time passes.
Women are more likely to get herpes because the virus is more easily transmitted from men to women than vice-versa. Furthermore, each additional sex partner you have raises your risk.
HERPES AND PREGNANCY
Herpes can be passed to the unborn child, so it is vital to receive extensive and thorough prenatal care visits. Neonatal herpes is a potentially deadly infection. It can also cause miscarriages and premature birth. If you are pregnant and have herpes, your doctor will evaluate whether or not it’s appropriate to offer medicine at the end of your pregnancy.
HOW TO AVOID HERPES
There is only one 100 percent way to avoid herpes: abstinence. If this is not an option, consider a monogamous relationship with a partner who is disease-free. Latex condoms can reduce your chances of getting the virus, but you must be sure they are used properly.
Remember, there is no cure for genital herpes. However, certain medications can help sores heal sooner, reduce the frequency of outbreaks, and reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to a sexual partner. If there’s any question or concern that you may have herpes, don’t wait! Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to determine the cause of your problems.
For more than 40 years, Raleigh Medical Group has served as Raleigh, Cary, and Durham’s premier internal medicine providers comprised of three distinct practices: Raleigh Medical Group, Raleigh Adult Medicine, and Cary Medical Group. We tailor our treatments to provide you with the finest personalized health care available for each stage of your adult life. Contact us to schedule an appointment.