Herpes in Women

Genital herpes is a chronic STD (sexually transmitted disease). It is caused by the herpes simplex virus and can cause lesions on the genital organs, rectum, and adjacent areas such as buttocks and thighs. Men and women can carry this disease differently, so we will focus on herpes in women.


Cause of Herpes in Women

The cause of genital herpes is contagion by the herpes simplex virus that is transmitted through sexual intercourse, causing lesions on the skin and mucous membranes of the genitals. There are two types of herpes simplex virus:

  • The herpes simplex virus1 or HSV-1 is the one that affects the mouth and lips, causing vesicles and ulcers. It can be spread from mouth to the genitals through oral sex.
  • The herpes simplex virus 2 or HIV-2 is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. It can be transmitted orally or genitally through contact with the skin or secretions from the mucous membranes of the genitals and mouth.


Symptoms

Genital health - herpes in women symptoms concept

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. Even so, herpes can be spread to sexual partners, so preventive measures are necessary.

However, the most common is that genital herpes, with symptoms that appears shortly after infection or infection. It usually takes from 2 days to 2 weeks after infection. Local signs or general symptoms may occur, and in turn, the symptoms of genital herpes may appear in outbreaks of greater or lesser intensity and with greater or lesser frequency.


Local Symptoms

The local signs and symptoms of herpes in women can be located in the rectum, genital lips, lips of the mouth, anus, etc. Small vesicles or blisters appear on the genitals, with pain and a straw-colored or light liquid content (similar to those that appear in chickenpox).

Before the vesicles or blisters appear, as in the case of herpes zoster, a burning or burning sensation, pain, burning, and stinging may appear in the place where the vesicles finally appear.

Later, the vesicles or blisters rupture, leaving superficial herpetic ulcers with intense pain and burning. The following days they dry up and give way to scabs or scabs, and the lesions slowly heal over a week or two. Other local symptoms of herpes in women are urogenital and consist of:

  • Acute retention of urine with the inability to urinate and empty the bladder.
  • Dysuria or painful urination caused by irritation of urine in herpes lesions.
  • Excessive and abnormal vaginal discharge.


The general symptoms that usually occur with the first outbreak can be severe and last longer, while successive outbreaks tend to be less severe, of shorter duration, and less frequent over time.


General symptoms

Sypmtoms of genital herpes in women

The most common general symptoms of genital herpes are similar, in part, to those of the flu:

  • Swelling and pain in the groin glands called adenitis
  • Breakdown of the general state
  • Muscle aches or myalgias more accentuated in the lumbar muscles, thighs, and buttocks
  • A febrile symptomatic picture with objectified fever
  • Loss or decrease of appetite


Diagnosis

Herpes simplex HSV tests or analysis can be performed to diagnose a current infection or also to detect if there are antibodies to herpes in women due to a previous or remote infection caused by the herpes simplex virus.

The herpes simplex test is performed by collecting blood in a vein or directly by taking a sample from a gallbladder or ulcer present in the suspected lesion with a swab. This sample is used to culture the virus and analyze the abnormal cells in the herpetic lesion.


Treatment and Prevention

Different treatments for herpes

Treatment for genital herpes in women is instituted to improve the clinical course of the disease and the intensity and number of its outbreaks. The treatment alleviates this disease but does not cure it.

Medications to treat genital herpes contain antiviral drugs. There are many different types of treatment for genital herpes.

  • A local or topical treatment that consists of creams for genital herpes with an antiviral product that is applied to the affected area, normally the cream is applied every three hours
  • Oral treatment using tablets that contain an antiviral medicine that passes into the blood and fights or attenuates the effects of the herpes simplex virus
  • Intravenous treatment in very severe cases of herpes simplex virus infection or when medication cannot be given by mouth

A special condition for treatment is herpes in women during pregnancy and herpes during childbirth. It is very important to take steps to avoid infecting the child. Antiviral medication can be administered orally during the last month of pregnancy to prevent an outbreak of genital herpes during delivery. If, despite this prevention, an outbreak of genital herpes occurs in the vicinity of delivery, a cesarean section will be performed to prevent the child from being infected in a normal vaginal delivery. Medications used to treat herpes in women, even during pregnancy, are usually very well tolerated and have few side effects.

In relation to the prevention of herpes, always using a condom is the best method of preventing herpes in women since, although it is not 100% safe, contagion is very rare with it.


Can it be Cured?

Genital herpes is an incurable viral disease. No treatment can cure it completely. However, the symptoms and severity of herpetic lesions can be attenuated or reduced. With proper treatment, lesions and symptoms improve, and the intensity and number of outbreaks also decrease over time.

Taking into account that genital herpes cannot be cured, the best strategy to avoid it is adequate prevention and avoiding the risk of contagion in your sexual relations.


Contagion

Man with herpes lesions making it more contagious

Genital herpes can be spread by having vaginal, oral, and anal sex with a partner who is infected with this virus.

Sometimes your partner can present active genital herpes lesions, and then the risk of contagion is greater; These lesions consist of vesicles, ulcers, or reddish spots on the genitals, in the mouth, or the anus.

Other times your partner is a carrier of the herpes virus and yet does not have symptoms of genital herpes; that is, they remain asymptomatic, and yet they can give you herpes.


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