Genital herpes is an STD or sexually transmitted disease which affects a large number of people in the US. Infection and transmission of genital herpes in women can be prevented by abstinence and protected sex through the use of condoms.
Genital herpes leads to redness and painful blisters in the genital region and occurs when someone comes in touch with mucous walls in the vagina of someone with herpes. The virus, herpes simplex, traverses to the nerve base of the vertebral column and stays there always.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes in Women
Women develop severe symptoms of herpes than men, with their primary eruption being characterized with flu-like conditions. Inflammation in the urethra and vaginal discharge are common.
Others include flu-like and fever symptoms with general burning, itching and discomfort, swelling in the lymph nodes, abdominal pressure. These symptoms are common before the outbreak of bumps and blisters.
The painful lesions in the skin occur on the cervix and when these occur, women may experience pain while urination, muscular aches and a burning sensation in the genitals, thighs and butts.
The lesions may occur near or on the labia, clitoris, buttocks, anus or vulva. Usually, genital herpes in women occurs in the external genitalia and in the region which is covered by pubic hair. Initially, the symptoms may not be recognizable by either partner. If there is pain and watery discharge during urination, it may require thorough examination.
For instance, during delivery, you may need to examine the discharge with a flashlight. While the experience may vary among the sufferers to a considerable extent, the outbreaks in the genitals may look like cold sores. An outbreak may appear like a chafing, paper cut or yeast infection.
Women are more likely to contract HSV-2 in their genitals than men. Without condoms or anti viral preparations, the chances of women contracting genital herpes are around 8% to 10% because of enhanced exposure of mucosal tissue to the prospective sites of infection.
Women commonly encounter swollen lymph nodes in their groin, generalized muscular ache, headache and slight fever. The initial outbreak may last between 3 and 6 weeks.
Screening of Genital Herpes in Women During Pregnancy
Pregnant women having genital herpes may pass it to babies. While the risk is less, newborns may be infected with the herpes simplex germ during their delivery on passing through the birth passage. Transmission may be prevented with a caesarean section.
There is no established evidence that screening a woman for identifying risky pregnancy may cause a decrease of neonatal herpes. Pregnant women with genital herpes in the later stages of pregnancy may pass on the virus to their babies. Here are a few quick facts:
- Pregnant women who are first infected with HSV-2 in the last trimester of pregnancy have a lesser chance of passing on the virus to their children. Infection of HSV-2 may lead to a serious disease which is known as neonatal herpes.
- Passing on the virus to the baby is not a high possibility is the genital herpes is long established in the mother.
- The consequences of active genital herpes in women passing on to the baby during delivery may be lessened by a caesarean section to reduce chances of neonatal herpes.
Treatment for Genital Herpes in Women
To understand if the symptoms of female herpes you have experienced are viral in nature, you may go for a couple of blood tests for the herpes viruses – for Herpes I and Herpes II. This helps determine whether herpes exists and if it is active. While genital herpes may not be cured, treatment options are available.
You may look for topical applications to put on the lesions as well as opt for oral medications for cases that are more severe. As herpes can be easily spread to different regions of the body, it is suggested that you do not lay a hand on your eyes or lips after handling the blisters. You should wash your hands meticulously and frequently during outbreaks.
There are many reasons why genital herpes in women is a common occurrence. The genital region of women has an increased surface area of cells that are moist with body fluids than men. Moreover, the hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle may influence the immune system, making it easier for the virus to cause infection.