Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus that affects one in six people in the Western world. In most cases, it is difficult to diagnose this type of herpes because it does not always manifest itself in the same way. In this article, we are looking a bit deeper into herpes in men.
Herpes is an inflammatory disorder of the mucous membranes or skin that manifests itself as small fluid-filled vesicles that itch and burn. It usually affects the genital organs and lips.
It is a common infection, which remains in the body for life, and is spread by skin-to-skin contact with infected areas. Therefore, it is most commonly spread by kissing and sexual intercourse.
Herpesvirus (HSV) stands out as the main cause of a large number of infections of the orofacial region as well as the genital region. Infection in epithelial mucosal cells results in a series of clinical signs and latent infection at the level of sensory neurons. During the productive phase of infection, multiple viral proteins are expressed, while in latent phases, these proteins are hardly expressed. Reactivation of the virus leads to recurrent infections, triggering cell lysis and multiple pictures with well-defined clinical manifestations.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease - STD or STI. It is an increasingly frequent infection and already affects one in six people. The causes are both herpes simplex virus, type I (HSV-1), and type II (HSV-2).
These viruses have a great predilection for our mucous membranes, such as those of the mouth, anal and genital regions. Genital herpes is a chronic infection, which reactivates periodically; the first infection is called primoinfection. It is considered that one in six people in the western world suffers from genital herpes. Only about 40% are correctly diagnosed.
Genital herpes is always spread by contact with another infected person. It is not transmitted through objects. The first outbreak is usually the most symptomatic, subsequent outbreaks less intense.
There are many cases in which genital herpes in men does not present any symptoms. However, it is common for a first episode of severe genital herpes to occur, especially in people who have an immunosuppressed system. In any case, there are different symptoms of genital herpes in men.
First, there are the general symptoms, which include malaise, headache, fever, and muscle aches. Secondly, there may be local symptoms, which can appear in any area of the genitals in the form of redness, small, clustered blisters, burning, and ulcers, which heal within one to two weeks.
In addition, other symptoms such as urethritis, inflammation of the rectum, nervous system dysfunction, swollen groin nodes, or lymphangitis of the penis may occur.
There are a number of variable and common factors that trigger genital herpes outbreaks. These factors are:
- Sun exposure
- Intense sexual intercourse
- Hormonal changes
- Diseases such as HIV
There is no treatment that cures herpes in men definitively.
Treatment with antiviral drugs has been shown to be very effective
There are basically two other approaches to treatment.
Used when patients have more than 6 outbreaks per year or with outbreaks that have severe symptoms. It is also used when trying to reduce the risk of contact with the patient's sexual partners. In these cases, the medication is taken at low doses but continuously for periods of months. Sometimes this type of treatment is done intermittently.
There is no vaccine against herpes simplex virus type I (HSV-1) and type II (HSV-2), although several studies are underway. Nowadays, the only form of protection is the use of condoms. It should be placed before the penis comes into contact with mucous areas of the sexual partner.
It is important that men who have genital herpes follow the recommendations of specialists:
When the first symptom of herpes in men appears, it is important to start with antivirals.
When suffering from genital herpes in women, the characteristic signs and symptoms of this disease may not appear in the case of asymptomatic genital herpes.
Genital herpes is one of the most contagious and common sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. However, because in most cases there are no symptoms, many people are unaware that they are infected, increasing the likelihood of transmitting the disease. The disease is caused by two types of virus: HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus type 1, which affects the mouth and lips but can be transmitted to the genitals, and HSV-2, the herpes simplex virus type 2, that typically causes genital herpes and is transmitted by skin contact or through oral and genital secretions.