What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that travels from the skin to the nervous system where it stays in the body. There are two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Some people do not have any symptoms, some do not recognize symptoms and some have symptoms anywhere below the waist or above the thigh. Symptoms might include tingling, itching, sores, blisters, splits, cuts, bumps, pimples, redness, aches and pains in the genital area, or flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can reappear (called “a recurrence”) weeks, months, or years later. Anything that could weaken your immune system (such as illness, poor diet or sleep, emotional or physical stress) could allow a recurrent outbreak. Symptoms usually heal within two to 12 days, but can last longer.
How did I get genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread from skin-to-skin contact in one of two ways: by receiving oral sex from someone who has oral HSV infection or by having genital-to-genital or genital-to-anal contact with someone who has genital herpes. Although genital herpes can be spread by an infected person who has symptoms (“an outbreak”), it can be spread between outbreaks or when there are no symptoms (called “asymptomatic viral shedding”). In most cases, it is difficult to know how long you have had genital herpes, who gave it to you, and how long they may have had it.