Private part herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Sexual contact is the primary way that the virus spreads. After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in your body and can reactivate several times a year.
There’s no cure for private part herpes, but medications can ease symptoms and reduce the risk of infecting others. Condoms also can help prevent transmission of the virus.
The majority of people who’ve been infected with HSV never know they have the disease, because they have no signs or symptoms. The signs and symptoms of HSV can be so mild that they go unnoticed.
When present, the initial symptom of private part herpes usually is pain or itching, beginning within a few weeks after exposure to an infected sexual partner. After several days, small red bumps or tiny white blisters may appear. They then rupture, becoming ulcers that ooze or bleed. Eventually, scabs form and the ulcers heal.
In women, sores can erupt in the vaginal area, external private parts, buttocks, anus or cervix. In men, sores can appear on the man-hood, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs or inside the urethra, the channel inside the man-hood leading to the bladder.
While you have ulcers, it may be painful to urinate. You may also experience pain and tenderness in your private part area until the infection clears. During an initial outbreak, you may have flu-like signs and symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches and fever, as well as swollen lymph nodes in your groin.
Two types of herpes simplex virus infections can cause private part herpes:
HSV-1. This is the type that usually causes cold sores or fever blisters around your mouth, though it can be spread to your private part area during oral sex.
HSV-2. This is the type that commonly causes private part herpes. The virus spreads through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is very common and highly contagious, whether or not you have an open sore.
Because the virus dies quickly outside of the body, it’s nearly impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels or other objects used by an infected person.
Treatments & Drugs
There’s no cure for private part herpes. Treatment with prescription antiviral medications may:
1. Help sores heal sooner during an initial outbreak.
2. Lessen the severity and duration of symptoms in recurrent outbreaks.
3. Reduce the frequency of recurrence.
4. Minimize the chance of transmitting the herpes virus to another.
Antiviral medications used for private part herpes include:
1. Acyclovir (Zovirax);
2. Famciclovir (Famvir);
3. Valacyclovir (Valtrex).
Your doctor may recommend that you take the medicine only when you’re experiencing symptoms of an outbreak. Or your doctor may recommend that you take a medicine daily, even when you’re not experiencing any signs of an outbreak, to minimize your chances of recurrent outbreaks.
People who are experiencing severe complications may need to be hospitalized, so they can receive antiviral medication intravenously.
The suggestions for preventing private part herpes are the same as those for preventing other sexually transmitted infections. The key is to avoid being infected with HSV, which is highly contagious while lesions are present. The best way to prevent infection is to abstain from sexual activity or to limit sexual contact to only one person who is infection-free. Short of that, you can:
1. Use, or have your partner use, a latex condom during each sexual contact;
2. Limit the number of sex partners;
3. Avoid intercourse if either partner has an outbreak of herpes in the private part area or anywhere else.
If you’re pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor that you have private part herpes or, if you’re unsure, ask to be tested for it. Your doctor may recommend that you start taking herpes antiviral medications late in pregnancy to try to prevent an outbreak from occurring around the time of delivery. If you’re having an outbreak when you go into labour, your doctor will probably suggest a caesarean section to reduce the risk of passing the virus to your baby.