Finding out that you or a partner may have genital herpes can be a very stressful ordeal. There are so many myths on the internet about how transmission of herpes occurs and how the virus will appear. It is important to know the correct information about a herpes infection. For example, despite what you may have read, you can still transmit the herpes virus when no outbreak is present.
Many people are under the impression that herpes infection, also known as HSV, will be obvious to them. The truth about herpes is that signs or symptoms may never present themselves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people with genital herpes do not display physical symptoms but can still spread the virus to their sexual partners.
If symptoms do appear, they can be very subtle or they can be very intense. It is different from person to person. People may suffer from sores that appear as one or more blisters around the genitals, mouth or anus. These sores can sometimes take weeks to heal. The period of time in which these sores appear is known as an outbreak. A person experiencing an outbreak for the first time may also have fever, body aches or swollen glands. It is common to have repeat outbreaks of genital herpes although repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe.
It may surprise you to learn that herpes can be transmitted even without an outbreak. Herpes symptoms can lie dormant for weeks before an outbreak occurs. So, even if your partner looks and feels healthy, they could be infected and pass the herpes virus to you.
Once the herpes virus has entered your system, it is always there. You will carry the virus for the rest of your life. Additionally, condoms do not always offer full protection from HSV. Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact. Any part of the genitals that is exposed during intercourse runs the risk of viral transmission.
If you believe that you may have been exposed to genital herpes or any other STD, you should have STD testing performed. Since symptoms are not always present, this can often be the best way to know for sure whether or not you have been infected by the virus. Only an STD test that screens for herpes can tell you for sure whether you have the virus or not so make sure this test is included in your screening.