The herpes simplex virus is a particularly virulent sexually transmitted disease. It infects an estimated 1 in 6 people in the US, with at least 25 percent of those not even being aware of it. Herpes symptoms in women are fairly similar to those of men. With the exception of the blisters, can also be misdiagnosed for completely unrelated things.
There are two main types of herpes, HSV-1 and HSV-2. The virus is part of the strain that includes shingles and chickenpox. HSV-1 is oral herpes, which mainly results on cold sores. HSV-2 is the sexually transmitted variant with mainly affects the genitals.
Symptoms of Herpes in Women
It is entirely possible to be infected with herpes and not display any symptoms. It is this asymptomatic nature that helps the infection spread so much. The estimate 25 percent who have the infection that don’t know aren’t going to necessarily play safe to protect themselves, which is how the disease has become so widespread.
Herpes symptoms in women include:
- Itching in the genital or anal region
- Small fluid-filled blisters that burst leaving painful sores
- Pain when passing urine over the open sores
- Flu-like symptoms
As already mentioned, with the exception of the blisters that turn into sores, the rest of the symptoms can be easily mistaken for something else. Herpes symptoms in women often go unreported as they can be caused by so many other things.
If herpes symptoms in women are going to appear, it will be within a couple of days, and a week. They may last between 2 and 7 weeks, and can be quite severe. As always, the particular severity and herpes symptoms in women differ between people so there is no hard and fast rule.
Once the initial outbreak has passed, it is possible for herpes symptoms in women to reappear periodically throughout the first year. An outbreak may be signaled by a prodrome. A prodrome is a sign of an outbreak, and can include itching skin, pain, or an abnormal tingling sensation at the site of infection.
These further outbreaks will lessen in severity and frequency, the probably disappear altogether.
If the infected person is stressed, run-down, drinks a lot of alcohol, does drugs or is otherwise less than healthy, recurrences of outbreaks of herpes symptoms in women is more common. An otherwise healthy lifestyle lowers the chances of such an outbreak significantly.
The transmission of herpes is through skin contact. As herpes symptoms in women aren’t always correctly identified, the infection can be passed very easily. As the infection predominantly affects the genital areas and mouth, sexual contact is the most prevalent way of passing on the infection.
Herpes is most infectious when the symptoms are visible. When the sores are appearing on the skin is the most dangerous time for infection. That said, the virus can also be readily transmitted when there are absolutely no herpes symptoms in women visible.
Testing for herpes involves a medical examination of the genitals, a sample and probably, a pelvic examination. There are now tests that can pick up herpes through urine, so a sample may be taken at the time.
Blood tests are also available, but as like HIV, there is a waiting period of 3 months for the infection to be able to be detected. The body can take that time to develop antibodies to combat the infection, which these tests look for.
There is no cure for herpes. Treatment mainly involves treating the herpes symptoms in women, and suppressing its ability to infect others. An outbreak clears up by itself, and the virus then goes into a dormant state. It can still be infectious, but the symptoms and associated inconvenience abates.
A doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs which can help a herpes outbreak clear up faster, and reduce the severity of the herpes symptoms in women. It’s probable that sufferers will need this the first time they have the infection. These will be prescribed within five days of getting genital herpes or while new blisters are forming.
Women who have regular outbreaks of genital herpes, may wish to ask their doctor about suppressive treatment. This is where they are prescribed antiviral drugs over a longer period of time to stop the infection recurring.
There is also a suppressive drug therapy to reduce the transmission of herpes. This is a course of drugs that has to be maintained to prevent transmission of the virus.
The main complication with herpes is that it is currently incurable. That means the person with the virus will have to practice safe sex for the rest of their life. It also means recurrences of the infection and the herpes symptoms in women being prominent at certain times.
Even when there are no herpes symptoms in women, the virus is still infectious.
Prevention is always better than the cure, but with a virus like herpes, that isn’t always possible. The asymptomatic nature of it makes it very difficult indeed to prevent.
When herpes symptoms in women are present, it is easy to identify once the blisters appear. Knowing that herpes cannot be cured should lead those who know to take preventive measures and seek treatment from that point on. As it cannot be cured, safe sex is necessary from that point on.
Main Preventive Measures of Herpes
- Do not have skin to skin contact while infected, or with an infected person
- Use condoms at all times
- Don’t kiss or have unprotected oral sex while cold sores are present
- Use safe sex practices on sex toys too. Keep them clean if shared, and preferably use a condom with them.
- Use suppressant drugs if applicable
As herpes symptoms in women aren’t always obvious, it’s difficult to prevent the disease spreading. That’s why a permanent practice of safe sex is so important. While condoms don’t prevent all instances of herpes from spreading, it’s a very effective barrier method to herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases.