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Genital Herpes in Women

👤by MedicineNet.com 0 comments 🕔Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV. HSV-1 is most commonly associated with blistering lesions around the mouth known as cold sores. HSV-2 is associated with blistering lesions in genital areas that are exposed during sexual contact. However, both types of HSV can infect the mouth or the genital areas. After the initial outbreak of herpes, the virus travels through the nerves and resides in nerve tissue within the body. Reactivations, or repeat occurrences of the blisters, can occur throughout an individual's lifetime. Up to 50 million people in the U.S. are likely to have a genital herpes infection. Among people aged 14 to 49, an estimated 1 out of every 6 people have the infection.

What causes genital herpes?

The herpes viruses enter the skin or mucous membrane through tiny, even microscopic, breaks in the tissue. Because an infected person may transmit the disease even when he or she does not have signs or symptoms of herpes, avoiding sexual contact with someone with active blisters does not guarantee protection against the infection.

Individual outbreaks of herpes vary among affected people in terms of their frequency and severity. Outbreaks can be related to the function of the immune system and are typically worse in cases in which the immune system is suppressed; for example, at times of physical or emotional stress, during illness, or when you are taking certain medications.

How is genital herpes transmitted?

HSV infection is transmitted by direct person-to-person contact. Genital herpes is acquired through sexual contact of any type that involves contact with the genital areas. Genital herpes can also be caused by mouth to genital contact with a person who has cold sores or herpes infection of the mouth. Transmission from an infected male to a female partner is more likely than transmission from an infected woman to a male partner.

Reviewed by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD on 10/15/2013

Genital Herpes in Women Overview Index

Patient Comments Viewers share their comments

Genital Herpes - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment are you using for genital herpes?

Genital Herpes - Symptoms Question: What symptoms of genital herpes did you have with your first outbreak?

Genital Herpes - Pregnancy Question: How did you manage your genital herpes during pregnancy?

Medical Author:

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medical Editor:

Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Test your knowledge of genital herpes infection and genital herpes symptoms by taking this quiz.

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