Be Safe.

Herpes

{Hur-peez}

Also Known as:

Genital Hurties

Gaping junk wounds

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is an infection more commonly referred to as just herpes (genital or oral). Type 1 usually has to do with “cold sores” around the mouth and nose and can be spread to the genital area. Type 2 is more closely associated with small blister-like sores in the genital area, but can be spread to the mouth and nose.

After the first outbreak (primary outbreak) Herpes stays in the body and becomes inactive. The virus may become active again and sores can show up in the same general area.

How do I get it?

Herpes can be present on the skin even when sores are not present. This is called “asymptomatic shedding”. Although less likely, the virus can still be passed during these times when no symptoms are present.

Symptoms

  • One or more blisters around the genitals, rectum or mouth.
  • The first outbreak can be quite painful and, in addition to sores, can include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and sore muscles. You may also get swollen lymph nodes.
  • Recurrent infection are usually milder and sores typically resolve more quickly. Some people may have mild or no symptoms and not even know they have genital herpes.

A nurse or doctor can visually diagnose genital herpes. The sores—if present—are swabbed and the specimen is sent to a laboratory for testing. If you think you might have herpes, talk to your nurse or doctor about testing.

Is it curable?

There is no cure but treatment is available which can reduce the length and severity of an outbreak. The antiviral medication can be taken as soon as possible after an outbreak begins. For people with more frequent outbreaks, medication can also be taken daily which can lower the chance of passing the virus to a partner.

 

What happens if I go untreated?

Outbreaks will usually run their course, however, there are medications, both over the counter and prescription-based, that can lessen the severity of an outbreak.

Can I still have sex?

Avoid sex during an outbreak. That said, it’s possible to infect sexual partners when symptoms are not present. For reference, this is called asymptomatic viral shedding. Daily medication, along with condom/dental dam use can help reduce transmission. It’s best to be open with your partner about herpes. While you may have to adjust your sex life, it is far from over.

I’m pregnant, what do I do?

If you or your partner are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy, and if either of you have herpes, it’s important to speak with your doctor. The risk to the baby is small, however, if the mother has an outbreak at the time of delivery, a Cesarean section may be recommended.

How to prevent herpes

There are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of herpes. Not only are you looking after your own health and safety, but the health and safety of your partners and future partners as well:

  • Maintain open and honest communication with your partner(s). It’s never wrong to ask about a partner’s sexual health.
  • Wear a condomand use an oral dam to lower risk of transmission. Even if there’s no flare up, it’s still possible to infect someone.
  • Commit to getting tested every three to six months.
  • Get to know early warning signs of an outbreak which include itching, burning, tingling or discomfort and abstain from any skin to skin or sexual contact.

Other resources

What to expect when
getting tested

Get comfortable with the process.

  • What to bring
    to your
    appointment
  • What will
    you be
    asked?
  • What the
    tests
    involve

What to bring
to your
appointment

Your name and contact details and questions about your sexual history.

  • A form of ID (driver's license, passport)
  • Your health care card

What will
you be
asked?

Questions about your recent sexual history.

When you last had sex, whether it was unprotected, what kind of symptoms you have...

What the
tests
involve

A few different potential tests involve procedures that aren’t a huge deal.

Pelvic exams, swab tests, blood tests and or urine tests

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