What is herpes?
Genital herpes is brought about by the herpes simplex infection (HSV). There are two types, HSV 1 and 2. Both types can infect the genital and anal area (genital herpes), the mouth and nose and fingers and hand (whitlows).
How do I catch herpes?
The infection enters the body through little breaks in the skin or the lining of the mouth, vagina, urethra and under the foreskin.
The herpes virus can be passed on by having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, sharing sex toys, and skin-to-skin contact.
It is possible for a pregnant woman to pass the infection to her infant in the event that she has a flare-up at the time of giving birth.
What are the symptoms of herpes?
When infected with the herpes virus, some people will experience an outbreak of genital herpes.
Symptoms may consist of flu-like symptoms and stinging, tingling or itching in the genital or anal area. Small fluid-filled blisters may appear, which burst to become painful ulcers. It may be very painful to pass urine.
The symptoms normally get better by themselves, and the virus then becomes inactive and remains in the body. In some people the virus can become active again from time to time, and cause further outbreaks of genital herpes – known as recurrent herpes. Some people can catch the herpes virus and never develop any symptoms.