Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases.

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It causes painful blisters and sores in and around the genital area. Around 20,000 cases are diagnosed in genitourinary medicine clinics in the UK alone every year, a lot more worldwide and more cases are seen in general practice and gynaecology clinics.

Genital herpes is best prevented by using condoms with new sexual partners or with any partner who has a previous history of genital herpes. Avoid sexual contact with a partner with active genital infection, or oral sex if cold sores are active round the partner’s mouth.

Within a week of contact with an infected person, a red, painful rash appears on the genitals or nearby. The rash soon blisters, and the blisters burst, releasing fluid. This is full of new virus particles, so this is the infectious stage of the illness, when it can be passed to another person. There is a risk of passing it on from when the rash appears through to when the last blister has burst, scabbed and dried.

During this active infection phase, the person usually feels feverish, unwell and exhausted. Lymph glands in the groin enlarge and become sore.

Symptoms of getting herpes:

  • painful, fluid filled blisters or sores which will burst in 10-21 days to give small, painful ulcers.
  • Lymph nodes in the groin area will get enlarged.
  • painful urination, especially in women.
  • burning, tingling or itching in the genital area.
  • discharge from genitals of males and females.
  • fever and body aches.

Sometimes, you will get cold sores around the mouth.

Other sources of information for these topics.

Genital Herpes, NIAID Fact Sheet
... Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV, and both can cause genital herpes. ...

An Acclaimed Herpes Information Resource, www.herpes.com ...
Herpes - The most comprehensive educational site for Herpes. Oral herpes, an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, is estimated to be present in 50 ...

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