Home Health & Living Causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

Causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

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Causes and how to treat genital herpes in women show the danger of catching an incurable infectious disease through oral or sexual intercourse

What is genital herpes? It is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV. However, HSV-1 is commonly linked with blistering lesions around your mouth known as cold sores. HSV-2 is linked with blistering lesions in genital areas that are exposed during sexual contact. But, both types of HSV can infect your mouth or the genital areas.

After the initial herpes outbreak, the virus travels through your nerves and resides in nerve tissue within your body. Reactivations, or repeat occurrences of the blisters, can occur throughout your lifetime.

Causes of genital herpes

causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

The herpes viruses enter your skin or mucous membrane through tiny, even microscopic, breaks in the tissue. If you are infected, you may transmit the disease even when you do not have signs or symptoms of herpes. So, avoiding sexual contact with someone with active blisters does not guarantee protection against the infection.

Besides, individual herpes outbreaks vary among affected people in frequency and severity. Furthermore, outbreaks can be related to the function of the immune system and are typically worse in cases in which the immune system is suppressed. Hence, for example, during physical or emotional stress, illness, or when taking certain medications.

How genital herpes is transmitted

HSV infection is transmitted by direct person-to-person contact. For instance, genital herpes can be 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’s cold sores or a herpes infection of the mouth.

Transmission from an infected male to a female partner is more likely than infection from an infected woman to a male partner.

Signs and symptoms

causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

In women, genital herpes usually causes blistering lesions on the vulva and around the vaginal opening that progress to ulcer formation. The infection spreads to involve the cervix, leading to cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix). In some women, cervicitis may be the only sign of genital herpes infection. Also, infection and inflammation of the urethra accompany genital herpes in some women, leading to pain in urination.

After the initial infection, you typically have outbreaks later in life.


In most cases where the characteristic signs and symptoms are present, they are sufficient to establish a diagnosis of genital herpes infection. However, some evidence exists that missed clinical diagnoses can be high because of atypical presentations.

In addition, there are laboratory tests, such as viral culture and nucleic acid amplification, to detect the virus’s genetic material.

Immunologic tests to identify antibodies to genital herpes are other possible tests to establish whether infection has occurred.

Can genital herpes be cured?

causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

There is no cure for genital herpes, and once you are infected with genital herpes, the infection persists throughout your life, with the potential for recurrent outbreaks. However, some medications can reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks and treatments to manage your symptoms.


causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

Antiviral medications can help you manage the severity and duration of outbreaks. That is if taken immediately before or within 24 hours of an outbreak. Antiviral medications normally used are acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), or valacyclovir (Valtrex). These are normally taken orally.

In severe cases of viral infection, antiviral medications may be given intravenously. But this is not typically done for genital herpes. Topical medications applied directly to the sores are also available, but these are less effective than oral medications and are not generally applied.

These medications may also be given as suppressive therapy to decrease the number of outbreaks in people with frequent outbreaks (more than six outbreaks per year).  Also, home care such as warm baths, keeping the blisters dry after washing, and wearing loose-fitting, cotton underwear may help with symptom relief.

Managing genital herpes in pregnancy

Oral antiviral medications mentioned above may be used during pregnancy. One serious concern with genital herpes in pregnancy is the transmission of the infection to your baby during delivery. In an infant, genital herpes infection can spread through the bloodstream and have serious consequences. Thus, cesarean delivery is performed for women who go into labor during an active outbreak of genital herpes. This is to prevent infection of the baby during birth. Therefore, obstetricians and gynecologists recommend that pregnant women with recurrent genital herpes be offered oral antiviral medication at or beyond 36 weeks until delivery. This is to increase the chances of being able to deliver vaginally.


causes and how to treat genital herpes in women

Herpes infection can be spread both during an outbreak and by infected people even when there is no herpes outbreak. Hence prevention can be difficult. Likewise, while condoms may help prevent the spread of genital herpes during sexual activity, the infection can also be spread from skin contact in areas not covered by a condom. Or during oral-to-genital contact.

So, if you are a woman concerned about a herpes outbreak, the Causes and How to Prevent Genital Herpes in Women advises thorough hand washing. And, besides not sharing clothing that has touched the skin ulcers can also help prevent you from transmitting the virus to others.


Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Abiola is the founder of Indulge™ group of companies, a healthy-living focused group. A passionate believer in a healthy lifestyle, living in the United Kingdom made it easy for her to pursue a health and fitness regime. She is the Managing Director/CEO of Indulge Nigeria Limited and Indulge Cares Nigeria Limited, both companies promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of illnesses and diseases. Abiola is available on https://www.indulgeinhealthyliving.com/

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