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Genital herpes refers to a common sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It affects the mucous membranes of the genitals and other areas and spreads through any form of sexual activity including kissing and oral sex. Transmission of genital herpes can occur if your skin, penis, vagina or mouth comes into contact with that of an infected person. Touching the skin of a person who has herpes sores, blisters or rashes can also cause infection. More worrisome is the fact that the virus can spread even if the infected person has no blisters, sores or other symptoms. Instances of the person being unaware of their condition are also very common. The only way to virtually negate the risk of getting genital herpes is to abstain from all sexual activity, impractical advice indeed for most of us! There are several other steps one can take to minimize the risk of infection. The best way is to be in a long term monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for genital herpes. This too may seem like an uphill task for many.
If you are just getting into a relationship then you should practice safe sex by either wearing a condom or insisting that your partner use one. While condoms are no guarantee against getting infected with or transmitting the virus, they can minimize the risk. This is because a condom may not cover all the areas where the virus is present. If either you or your partner has been infected with the herpes simplex virus in the past, then you need to abstain from sexual contact if any symptoms such as blisters, sores or rashes are present. These signify the outbreak of genital herpes and the chances of infecting your partner are higher even with the use of a condom.
While there is no cure for genital herpes, certain drugs are available that decrease the frequency and duration of outbreaks. For those with a healthy immune system, genital herpes continues to be a restricted infection and a nuisance without any major consequences. However, complications may occur which need to be safeguarded against. These include transmission of the infection from a pregnant woman to her baby which may result in a premature birth. Such babies may be prone to brain infections, developmental delays and even premature death. Other complications include the spread of the virus to other parts of the body including brain, lungs, spine or liver. It also increases the likelihood of HIV infection.
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