Are You At Risk Of Genital Herpes?

February 06, 2009

How safe is your sex life?

Simplex virus (HSV) that is transmitted through intimate contact with the mucous-covered linings of the mouth, the vagina or the genital skin is the main cause behind genital herpes. It is a shocking revelation that around 50 million people in the United States are infected with genital HSV. The most dangerous thing about HSV is that once it gets into the body it settles in the nerve roots near the spinal cord forever. And it is feared that at least 60% of sexually active adults carry this virus.

People infected with HSV remain unaware of their infection for a long time without any symptoms. Unfortunately, women are the most affected lot because of their body anatomy. Women have moist cells on a large area and have hormonal changes which lowers their body’s natural defenses allowing herpes virus to enter the body. Also the herpes sores of women go unseen as they may occur inside the vagina or on the cervix. The symptoms of herpes are further misunderstood as yeast infection, urinary tract infection and the like due to their wide range of symptoms which go away on their own. Women have to be specifically screened for herpes to be aptly diagnosed.

Women who contract the infection show less or hardly any symptoms. And it is through them that herpes spread like an epidemic. How is it herpes spread?

•    Through direct contact with the virus infection.
•    Sexual contact be it vaginal, anal or oral
•    Kissing or caressing the infected area
•    Sharing the same spoon, glass or cigarette can spread mouth herpes.

The virus is incapable on existing outside the body and it is unlikely that a person gets infected through objects like soap, towel or toilet sheets. People with the first sign of herpes to the last healing ulcer are considered to be infected.
Women who use contraceptives have low natural defenses and are at a higher risk of infection. Herpes viruses are fatal as they can make people more susceptible to HIV infection.

Make no mistake about it. Genital herpes does not cause a permanent ban on your sex life.

It is better to avoid close contact with your partner when symptoms are present to prevent herpes from spreading to him. Using condoms are said to be effective in preventing asymptomatic viral shedding, i.e., the surfacing of the virus during its active or contagious times. Having herpes also does not prevent you from conceiving and delivering a healthy and happy baby.

-Aparna K V

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