Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it’s probably best known for causing sores and blisters.
KidsHealth.org has written that genital herpes is caused by the virus, herpes simplex (HSV). There are two different types that cause genital herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most forms of genital herpes are HSV-2.
ACOG said that the sores appear in the site where the virus entered the body. It passes through that break in the skin during anal, oral or vaginal sex and enters the membranes of the penis, vagina, urinary opening, cervix or anus.
Once inside the body, it infects healthy cells. When the body's defense system begins to fight back, this causes swelling, sores and blisters.
Besides the sex organs, genital herpes can affect the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, and other body parts, said ACOG. Herpes can be passed from a cold sore around the mouth to a partner's genital area or vice versa.
Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from genital herpes. WomensHealth.gov lists the early symptoms to include itching or burning in the genital or anal area; flu-like symptoms, including fever; swollen glands; pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area; vaginal discharge; and a feeling of pressure in the area below the stomach. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) added that others may include decreased appetite and painful urination.
ACOG went on to say symptoms usually appear about 2 to 10 days after the herpes virus enters the body and may last two to four weeks. During this time, the lesions break open and “weep.” Over a short period, the sores become crusted and heal without leaving scars.
The bad news, said KidsHealth.org, is after the sores and blisters disappear, the herpes virus hasn’t actually gone away. It’s just in hiding and can reactivate itself. WomensHealth.gov said yhat the next outbreak is almost always less severe and shorter than the first.
Women who are pregnant during their first outbreak are more likely to pass the virus onto the baby.