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Genital Herpes in Women Overview (cont.)

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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.

What are the signs and symptoms of genital herpes?

Many people infected with genital herpes have mild symptoms or symptoms that are mistaken for another condition. It is also possible to be infected and have no symptoms, so not everyone who is infected may be aware of the infection. When symptoms are present, they consist of typically painful blisters around the genital or rectal area. The blisters break open, form ulcers, and take 2 to 4 weeks to heal. With the first outbreak of genital herpes, a person may also experience flu-like symptoms including fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Immediately prior to an outbreak, there may be an itching, burning, or tingling sensation of the skin.

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 in most cases, leading to cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix). In some women, cervicitis may be the only sign of genital herpes infection. Infection and inflammation of the urethra accompanies the infection in some women, leading to pain on urination.

After the initial infection, a person typically has outbreaks later in life.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/15/2013

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/genital_herpes_in_women_overview/article.htm

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