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Health Information For Teens
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). There’s no cure for genital herpes, but medicines can help control the infection.
STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are infections that spread through sex (vaginal, oral, or anal) or close sexual contact.
Most people with genital herpes don’t have any symptoms. They may not even know they are infected.
Some people with genital herpes can have “outbreaks” of sores in the genital and anal area. (Genitals are the sexual or reproductive organs that are on the outside of the body.) The sores heal within a few weeks. Outbreaks can be brought on by stress, illness, being overly tired, or being in sunlight. Girls can have outbreaks when they get their periods.
The first outbreak often is the most severe. Outbreaks usually become less severe over time.
Two viruses cause genital herpes:
HSV-1 is the
that causes cold sores around the mouth. It can cause genital herpes when it spreads through oral sex. But most of the time, genital herpes is caused by HSV-2.
People can get infected with genital herpes when:
Genital herpes can spread even if there are no sores because the virus is still in the body. The virus sometimes “sheds” in the skin near the genitals. When the virus is shedding, it can infect another person.
To find out if someone has genital herpes, health care providers do tests on:
People with genital herpes need to tell recent, current, and future sex partners about their infection. Because someone may never have symptoms or may not have symptoms for months to years after infection, a current partner may not be the source of the infection.
There is no cure for genital herpes. But health care providers can prescribe medicine to help:
The only way to prevent genital herpes and other STDs is abstinence. This means not having sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). If someone decides to have sex, using a latex condom every time can prevent most STDs.
But condoms can’t always prevent the spread of genital herpes. This is because the virus may be in the skin near the genitals (and not covered by a condom).
Genital herpes is a lifelong condition, but there are ways to manage it. If you have genital herpes:
Teens who are sexually active should get tested for STDs every year or more often if recommended by their health care provider.
Some people – even those who are having sex – are embarrassed by the topic of condoms. Here are some tips for talking about condoms with your partner.
You’ve probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.
You know you should talk about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before the action starts. But what if the thought of having “the talk” makes you nervous? These tips can help.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.
People who have STDs might feel apprehensive about discussing their disease with a partner. Here are some tips on talking to a partner when you have an STD.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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