Across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 11.9% of people ages 14 to 49 have herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), more commonly known as genital herpes. Despite the fact that infection rates have dropped by at least 6% since 2000, that still leaves about 1 in 6 Americans infected with HSV-2.
The social stigma of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) often keeps people from talking openly about living with genital herpes, which is a treatable but lifelong condition. In this blog, FunLove.com answers all your need-to-know questions about HSV, including which prescription treatment options for genital herpes are available online from FascinationsRx.
What Is Genital Herpes? How Is it Different Than Oral Herpes?
Genital herpes and oral herpes are both common forms of the herpes simplex virus. Genital herpes is mostly caused by the HSV-2 virus, which is spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Genital herpes often (but not always) results in intermittent episodes of one or more lesions on the genitals which may or may not be noticeable to the person who has them. While itching, stinging, or pain is associated with genital herpes outbreaks, some people report no discomfort at all. Others still can test positive for HSV-2 antibodies without ever having an outbreak.
Oral herpes is usually caused by the HSV-1 virus, which affects 48.1% of Americans between the ages of 14 and 49. HSV-1 causes lesions, often called cold sores, around the mouth and lips. Like HSV-2, the symptoms of oral herpes may come and go (or remain dormant), but the virus never truly leaves the body. Oral herpes is easily spread through kissing and sharing objects like toothbrushes, eating utensils, or drinking cups. Most people acquire oral herpes when they are children, although you can get the virus at any time.
What Are The Symptoms of Genital Herpes?
According to the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), as many as 90% of people are unaware that they even have the herpes virus. Many people may have mild symptoms they mistake for something else, while others may not notice any symptoms at all.
There is also significant variance in how soon someone displays signs or symptoms of genital herpes. Some people may notice something is off within days, while others may not experience symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. Because symptoms (or lack thereof) vary from person to person, anyone who suspects they may be experiencing HSV-2 symptoms should contact a doctor to rule out other possible causes, confirm the diagnosis, and talk about STD treatment options.
The following is a list of common classic signs and symptoms some people may experience during the first episode of a genital herpes outbreak:
- A sore or sores resembling a blister or pimple on the genitals. The lesion will likely crust or scab over, healing fully within two to four weeks. They may be itchy or painful.
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever or headache.
- Swollen lymph nodes near the groin.
- Painful urination.
Others may exhibit much more subtle signs of HSV-2 which can be mistaken for other conditions, including (but not limited to) insect bites, yeast infections, genital abrasions, and jock itch. Genital herpes sores may also simply look like a red spot, ingrown hair, razor burn, or hemorrhoids.
In addition, people with genital herpes may have sores on different parts of the body, including not only the penis and vulva, but also around the anus, buttocks, and thighs. Following the initial outbreak, genital herpes outbreaks tend to diminish over time, meaning the first episode is often (but not always) the most severe symptom-wise.
Genital herpes can look and feel different on different bodies. It’s crucial to remember the graphic photos you find when you Google “What does genital herpes look like?” are not representative of how all herpes sores may appear.
How Does Genital Herpes Spread?
You can be infected with genital herpes after engaging in vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has genital herpes, whether they have any active lesions or not.
It is also possible to get genital herpes from someone who has oral herpes if you receive oral sex from that person. As such, it is possible to acquire genital herpes through type 1 of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), even though it is normally associated with oral herpes. You are much more likely to acquire genital herpes from oral sex if the infected person has an active cold sore or lesion.
The opposite is also true—someone who is giving oral sex can contract oral herpes from someone who already has genital herpes, especially if they have had a recent outbreak. Thus, it is possible to have oral herpes caused by type 2 of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-2).
Contrary to popular urban myths, there have been no documented cases of a person contracting either HSV-1 or HSV-2 from objects like a public toilet seat, towel, or bathtub. That being said, sharing sex toys with a partner can spread genital herpes (yet another reason to stay away from porous toys and always clean your sex toys after use).
How Do You Treat Genital Herpes?
While there are several effective treatment options for genital herpes, there is no cure or vaccine to prevent HSV-1 or HSV-2 in the first place. A physical exam, lesion culture, or blood test can confirm your diagnosis, and certain prescribed medications can help manage symptoms and reduce your risk of spreading genital herpes to sexual partners.
ValtrexValtrex is a prescription antiviral drug used to treat and suppress the shingles virus, oral herpes, and genital herpes. The drug works by effectively slowing down the virus to give the body more time to fight it off. If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and have suffered from frequent recurring outbreaks, taking Valtrex twice daily may help reduce the severity and length of your outbreaks.
Valacyclovir is an antiviral drug that can stop the growth of certain kinds of viruses. It is the generic form of the drug Valtrex and offers all the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
Acyclovir is an antiviral drug intended to treat shingles, chickenpox, cold sores caused by HSV-1, and genital herpes caused by HSV-2. It is the generic form of the drug Zovirax. Acyclovir for genital herpes is intended for episodic treatment once a breakout has already started to occur and is taken two to five times daily as directed by a doctor.
In addition, Acyclovir works best for those with few or mild breakouts by reducing pain and itching, keeping new sores from forming, and helping existing lesions heal faster. For those with weakened immune systems, acyclovir can also prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of the body and causing a more serious infection.
Where Can I Find Treatment Options for Genital Herpes?
FascinationsRx is a new venture by Fascinations, a leading retailer of sensual products for the past 30 years. This new service makes it easy to order medication online for conditions related to erectile dysfunction, STDs, and hair loss, including the medications listed above.
The process is simple, convenient, and discreet. When you order through FascinationsRx, just locate the medication type you’re looking for, create your online member account, complete an online medical questionnaire, and you’ll be connected to a licensed physician in your state who will review your medical history and decide if prescription medication is necessary.
There’s no co-pay, no office visits, and no need to drive to the pharmacy, since your medication will be shipped directly to your home. Find out more about treatment options for genital herpes and how to set up easy refills from Fascinations Rx.