More women than men have herpes. Vaginal herpes is frequently mis-diagnosed, and therefore mis-treated, and there can be complications during childbirth. This article gives an overview of vaginal herpes, and what you can do to find relief and have a relationship with a good sex life.
Women are more susceptible to getting genital herpes than men. This is because their genitals have more areas with cells that are moist with body fluids than men do. This means that if a woman has intercourse with a man who has herpes, she is more likely to get it than a man who has intercourse with a woman who has herpes. For this reason, about 1 in 4 adult women have herpes, whereas for men it is about 1 in 5. Women suffer more with it too. For many women the first blisters are infectious and sore for approximately 3 weeks. For many men it is about a week less.
There are symptoms which occur before any blisters, rashes or sores appear. These symptoms are called prodromal symptoms and can include any or all of the following: Itching in the groin area, tingling or burning in the vagina, labia, anus, upper legs and buttocks, unusual vaginal discharges, swelling of the lymph nodes, feelings of pressure or bloating in the abdomen, urinary pain or difficulty urinating. There can also be flu like symptoms such as headache, nausea, fever, sore limbs, and muscle and joint pain.
After the prodromal symptoms, which can last 1 to 3 days, the actual herpes outbreak begins to appear. The outbreak can include sores or blisters that look like pimples, to larger sores, which burst and scab over as the outbreak continues. They can be alone or in clusters, and they can be on the genitals, anus, buttocks and thighs. Other symptoms can be an itching or burning rash, pain when urinating and vaginal discharge.
At this point most women will of course visit a doctor. Unfortunately vaginal herpes is often mis-diagnosed. For instance herpes blisters inside the vagina or on the cervix may be misdiagnosed as a yeast infection, or an inflammation of the cervix called cervictis. It can also be mis-diagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease. Vaginal herpes can also be mis-diagnosed as a urinary tract infection or bladder infection. Vaginal herpes can produce symptoms on the cervix, but not on the outer vaginal area. This is especially true for outbreaks which come after the initial outbreak.
Herpes for a baby can be devastating and possibly fatal, but it is preventable. It is of course vital to be honest with your doctor about your herpes, even if you are not having an outbreak. Do not take it for granted that you are not having an outbreak. If your doctor knows you have herpes, then you will be monitored during your pregnancy, and checked again before delivery. If the herpes virus is not outbreaking at the time labor begins, a normal delivery is possible. If there is an active outbreak at the time of labor, the baby will be delivered by a caesarean section. This will keep the baby from getting herpes. This is why it is so very important to tell your doctor that you have herpes. It is simply not worth taking a chance. There is no need to feel any shame about telling your doctor. After all, 1 in 4 women have herpes, so you are not alone.
The psychological impact of vaginal herpes can be greater than the physical impact. Having herpes can include shame and depression, with a tendency to isolate. The good news is that herpes can be controlled or reduced, with the use of herbal formulas.