Genital herpes: What is it ? What are Its Causes and symptoms ?

Genital herpes is a highly contagious and sexually transmitted viral disease. After the first infection, the virus settles in the organism and “falls asleep”. It then manifests itself, during flare-up, by small blisters evolving into wounds, located on or near the sexual organs.

Genital herpes: A sexually transmitted viral INFECTION.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection, viral and recurrent: it may resurface several times in the same person.

For example ,In France, genital herpes affects 20% of the sexually active population and especially those aged 25 to 35 years.

The most serious risk is the transmission of the virus to the newborn when the pregnant woman is infected. But this situation is rare (about 3 cases for 100 000, or 20 cases a year in France).

Two viruses can be the cause of herpes:

  • Type 1 (or HSV1), responsible for herpes infections of the upper part of the body. The infection can reach the mouth, the cornea of the eye and the upper lip (cold sores or “cold sore”);
  • Type 2 (or HSV2), which causes infections of the lower part of the body, especially genital herpes.

However, more and more genital infections are due to HSV1 (10 to 30% of cases). They are favored by oral sexual practices.

The first contact with the genital herpes virus: primary infection herpetic.

Primary infection herpetic corresponds to the first contact between the virus and the organism. Apart from the case of mother-to-child transmission, it occurs during sexual intercourse, with or without penetration. It generates more or less strong symptoms.

Depending on the case, the partner who transmits the virus:

  • has herpes lesions on the sex, buttocks or thighs;
  • carries the virus on its mucous membranes, without symptoms.

In case of a cold sore, the HSV1 virus is present on the lips. Sexual intercourse involving the mouth with sex may be the cause of a transmission of the virus to the sexual parts of the partner.

Genital herpes virus settles permanently
Once contracted, the herpes virus pathways into the sensory nerves corresponding to the infected territory and lodges in a nervous ganglion where it remains “asleep.” It becomes latent for a period ranging from a few weeks to several years, or even definitively. But most often, the virus reappears periodically in the area where it was contracted: these are the outbreaks of herpes or recurrences or recurrences. In fact, under various influences, the virus multiplies and, along the nerves, returns to colonize the territory of the skin or mucous membranes initially infected by causing lesions much less extensive but willingly recurrent.

Some factors promote genital herpes flare-up:

  • Stress
  • fatigue;
  • Another infection;
  • A decrease in immune defenses;
  • A hormonal change (for example, during the rules).
  • Recurrences (or herpes recurrences) are more frequent in the year following primary infection.

Symptoms of genital herpes

No symptoms
Genital herpes can go completely unnoticed. Some people, men or women, may have been in contact with the virus and never develop symptoms of herpes. However, the virus can be present on their mucous membranes intermittently without any visible signs. They are thus likely to transmit the virus to a partner.

Genital herpes: Primary infection
The first infection with the virus (or primary infection) often goes unnoticed. But it can be manifested by:

  • Minimal or moderate lesions of herpes in the eruption zone. Small blisters appear, grouped in “bouquet”. They resemble small bubbles filled with a transparent liquid rapidly evolving into ulceration. They cause irritation, itching, stinging, burning, discomfort or pain;
  • More important and painful genital or surrounding lesions:
    -Inflammation of the vulva and vagina (called vulva-vaginitis),
    -Inflammation of the anus and rectum (or Ano-rectity),
    -Painful ulcers coated with a whitish coating,
    -Sensitivity disorders (stinging, tingling of the genital area…)
    -Fever, aches, headaches, stomach aches, pains in urination can accompany these lesions.

The scarring of the lesions can be long and sometimes require several weeks.

The impulses of genital herpes or recurrences or recurrences
In women
Recurrences of genital herpes are manifested by:

  • Warning signs: stinging, burning sensation in the eruption zone;
  • Redness in the vulva or vagina, followed by the appearance of small blisters, loaded with viruses. These will rupture and evolve into small, sometimes very painful, wounds. These symptoms may be accompanied by vaginal discharge;
  • Herpes lesions that may appear near the sexual organs: thighs, anus, buttocks…;
  • Sometimes lesions located deep in the vagina and even on the cervix. There are no apparent symptoms, which makes the diagnosis difficult because the signs are not visible to the naked eye.

Healing is achieved in 7 to 10 days.

In men
Recurrences of genital herpes are manifested by:

  • Warning signs of the outbreak of herpes comparable to those of women
  • Symptoms (redness, blisters, crusts) often less painful than in women;
  • Lesions usually present on the penis, the foreskin, or the area that separates them. Herpes is particularly annoying and long to heal when the pimples are on the testicles;
  • Herpes lesions on the thighs, anus or buttocks.

Healing is achieved in 7 to 10 days.


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