STD Testing: Genital Herpes

Genital herpes, scientifically referred to as herpes genitalis, is very contagious and known to be transmitted sexually. This STD is caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV) strain. Genital herpes is typically characterized by pain, itchiness, and blister-like sores normally located in the genital areas including the penis and scrotum in men and labia and vagina in women. The sores can also be found in the anus, upper thighs, urethra, groin and buttocks in both men and women.

When and how did Genital Herpes First Occur?

The name herpes was derived from the Greek word, herpestes, meaning to creep and was used to refer to the way the genital herpes lesions form on the body. Genital herpes is actually one of the oldest STDs to be discovered. The disease was first documented by Hippocrates between 460 to 370 BCE. He was the first to document the symptoms of genital herpes lacerations.

Causes and Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Anyone can get herpes although studies show that more women suffer from the disease than men. There are however risk factors that increase the chances of getting genital herpes in both genders. The risks are:

  • numerous sexual partners
  • engaging in first sexual activity at an early age
  • other STDs

Not everyone who has genital herpes will have the symptoms. The majority of genital herpes patients will experience a prodromal stage of pain, itchiness, burning/tingling sensation in areas where lesions will form. The prodromal stage can last a few hours, one day or at most two days. Some patients will also experience flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and sometimes fever.

How will I know if I have the virus?

The only way to be sure if you have genital herpes is by getting a genital herpes STD test immediately when you notice signs or symptoms on either yourself or your sexual partner. A genital herpes test is also necessary if you are suffering from any other Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Common Genital Herpes Tests

There are several tests that are used to diagnose genital herpes depending on how the virus presents itself in individuals. The tests include:

IgG and IgM. Blood Test

This test is used to find out whether you antibodies that develop to fight herpes. The IgG and IgM blood test is very helpful when the virus cannot be detected in the blood.

PCR Blood Test

A PRC blood test will tell if you a patient has genital herpes even if they are not showing any symptoms. This test is the most common one used to identify genital herpes as it is very accurate because it looks for the virus’s DNA.

Cell Culture

A health care provider takes a sample of cells from a lesion and uses it to look for the HSV using a microscope.

Treating Genital Herpes

The STD is treated using antiviral tablets but the dosage will be subject to the severity of the symptoms. For severe symptoms, aciclovir antiviral tablets will be very effective. You will be required to take the tablets five times a day over a period of five days.

For patients who have less than six recurrent outbreaks in a year, aciclovir can be taken only when they experience prodromal stage symptoms. If the recurrent outbreaks in a year are more than six and the symptoms are very problematic aciclovir should be taken twice a day over a period of 6 to 12 months.

Talk To Your Doctor

If you do suspect that you have been infected talk to your doctor, probably better if they have a specialty in treating STDs. Genital Herpes has been also known to increase the risk of HIV infections, so if you also suspect that you might have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, talk to your doctor about getting treated with HIV PEP treatment to prevent yourself from being HIV-positive.