Genital Herpes in Women Overview (cont.)
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.
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.
In this Article
- Genital herpes in women facts
- What is genital herpes?
- What causes genital herpes?
- How is genital herpes transmitted?
- What are the signs and symptoms of genital herpes?
- How is genital herpes diagnosed?
- Can genital herpes be cured?
- What is the treatment for genital herpes?
- Are home remedies or natural treatments effective for genital herpes?
- How is genital herpes managed in pregnancy?
- What is the prognosis for genital herpes?
- Can genital herpes be prevented?
- Genital Herpes FAQs
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
In most cases where the characteristic signs and symptoms are present, they are sufficient to establish a diagnosis of genital herpes infection, although some evidence exists that because of atypical presentations, missed clinical diagnoses can be high. Laboratory tests, such as viral culture and nucleic acid amplification tests to detect the genetic material of the virus, are also available. Immunologic tests to identify antibodies to genital herpes are other possible tests to establish whether infection has occurred.
Can genital herpes be cured?
There is no cure for genital herpes, and once a person is infected with genital herpes, the infection persists throughout the individual's life, with the potential for recurrent outbreaks. However, there are medications that can reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks and treatments to manage the symptoms.
What is the treatment for genital herpes?
Antiviral medications are available that can help manage the severity and duration of outbreaks, if taken immediately prior to (when there are tingling or unusual skin sensations but no blisters) or within 24 hours of an outbreak. The medications typically used are
- acyclovir (Zovirax),
- famciclovir (Famvir), or
- valacyclovir (Valtrex).
These are all typically 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 that are applied directly to the sores are also available, but these are less effective than oral medications and are not generally used.
All of these medications may also be given as suppressive therapy to decrease the number of outbreaks in people who have frequent outbreaks (more than six outbreaks per year).
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