Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is usually caused by one of two types of the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 or HSV-2. A person can get this STD through oral, vaginal or anal sex with a person who has the STD. In the US, one out of every six people, within the age range of 14-49 has genital herpes. You can’t get herpes by touching objects like towels, soap, toilet seat or bedding. 
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Written by Dr Helen Okoye, MD
Information last reviewed 06/21/19
Genital herpes is an STD that is transmitted from one person to another via the herpes simplex virus. After a person has been infected, the infection might show up in the form of blisters instantly, or it may remain dormant in the person’s body and reactivate multiple times a year. In many cases, genital herpes leads to pain, sores, itching, and discomfort in the genital area. In some cases, you might be infected, and not show any symptoms. Medications and the use of condoms can help prevent this disease from spreading, although it is important to note that condoms may not cover all the sores and you can still get infected from skin to skin contact with an affected area. 
The key cause of genital herpes is HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus-2). A person may be infected with HSV-2, but not show any symptoms. Approximately 30-50% of people infected with HSV-2 may be asymptomatic. Even if someone does not show any symptoms, they can pass on the infection . This includes people who have a known herpes infection, but who currently do not show any symptoms. It is recommended that you use condoms to protect yourself from genital herpes, but you should also be aware that a condom may not cover all the sores, and contact with any sores can result in becoming infected.
HSV-2 is quite common in the USA. About one or two million infections and 600,000-800,000 clinical cases are reported in a year. About 40-60 million people are infected with it. 
The symptoms of genital herpes may take a few days to appear after you are exposed to the virus. Some of the common symptoms of genital herpes are:
Itching or pain
You might feel tenderness or pain in your genital area until the infection goes away.
Some studies have shown that from one-half to two-thirds of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. But, if they appear, local symptoms may be seen two to twelve days after exposure. 
The diagnosis of genital herpes can be done by a healthcare professional by looking at visible sores. In many cases, the healthcare professional will use a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from a visible sore in order to get it tested in a lab. If the diagnosis cannot be done by visual examination, it is highly likely that the doctor will opt for a blood test. 
According to research, teenagers are at a higher risk of genital herpes as they often don’t have enough immune system antibodies to offer protection against the virus. Teenagers who were exposed to herpes in childhood are more vulnerable.  Others who are immunocompromised are also at risk.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for genital herpes, but it can be controlled by self-care and medications. Some self-care tips that can help with genital herpes are:
To treat genital herpes, a doctor may prescribe the following antiviral medications:
All these antiviral medications should work well for most patients. Any of these medications can be taken daily, especially if you have six or more outbreaks in a year. Many people are advised to take the prescribed medicine for at least a year and then request the doctor to re-evaluate after the year is up. 
Our doctors will decide which medication suits you best. These medications are often recommended for pregnant women who have the first trimester of pregnancy as they don’t lead to problems like congenital disabilities. 
The infection doesn’t kill adults or cause any serious health problems. Many people do feel dirty when they have this disease. 
Yes, the incidents of genital herpes are increasing every year 
A few common triggers of genital herpes are injury, fatigue, menstruation, Genital irritation and stress. 
The success rate of Valacyclovir is quite high. Clinically symptomatic HSV-2 infection developed in only 4 of 743 susceptible partners who had Valacyclovir. In contrast, 16 of 741 developed clinically symptomatic HSV-2 infection in susceptible partners who had a placebo. 
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