What is Herpes?
Herpes (also known as the herpes simplex virus) is a common virus that is characterized by sores and blisters around the mouth and/or genitals. Herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, usually occurring during vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex, and kissing. It can also be spread non-sexually by infected areas coming into contact with broken skin, such as cuts, burns, and rashes. Typically, herpes is at its’ most contagious when it comes into contact with open and wet sores, but can also be transmitted from normal-looking skin through ‘shedding’. While herpes is usually not a life-threatening disease, it can be a physically and emotionally painful disease. In addition to the pain of sores and blisters, it carries a social stigma that can affect your social life and psychological health.
Effects of Untreated Herpes
Even though it is one of the common afflictions in the world, herpes is not curable – the virus behaves in a way that makes it difficult to attempt a cure. When the herpes infection is not active, it ‘hides’ in the cells of the nervous system. This behavior makes it practically invisible to both medication and the immune system.
However, even though there is not a cure for herpes yet, it is treatable. When the virus is active, it manifests through recurring outbreaks. If left untreated, these outbreaks may cause physical pain or discomfort, inconvenience, or stress. Sore throat, painful swallowing, swollen glands, and mouth lesions may also make it difficult to eat or drink. If treated, it not only reduces the pain, duration, size of the outbreak, but also of future outbreaks.
Herpes is categorized into two types – Herpes 1 and Herpes 2. Their primary difference is in their ‘site of preference’, or where they appear on the body.
Herpes 1 (HSV-1, or oral herpes) – The more common of the two types of herpes, Herpes 1 affects the mouth and nose area. This strain of the herpes virus can be spread both sexually and non-sexually. Kissing, sharing eating utensils or personal items (such as a toothbrush, makeup, or razors), and receiving oral sex from someone who has Herpes 1 can infect you with the virus.
Herpes 2 (HSV-2, or genital herpes) – Primarily spread through sexual contact, Herpes 2 affects the genital area. Some cases of Herpes 2 is caused by transfer of Herpes 1 from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex.
In rare cases, Herpes 1 can manifest in the eye, causing a condition known as ocular herpes. Ocular herpes can be serious and can even lead to blindness. Herpes 1 can also cause encephalitis, a rare but serious inflammation of the brain.
How Do I Know if I Have Herpes?
Herpes can go undiagnosed and untreated because you may show little to no symptoms. If present, symptoms typically appear 2 to 12 days after the initial infection. Less frequently, an outbreak can possibly occur months or even years after being infected. Herpes can also be (and often is) misdiagnosed due to symptoms overlapping with the flu or other similar illnesses.
Common symptoms shared by both men and women include:
- Cracked, raw, and/or red areas around your genitals
- Blisters that break open, resulting in painful lesions
- Painful urination
- Swollen lymph nodes, particularly in afflicted area
- Pain in the buttocks and backs of the legs
Herpes lesions can take on many forms and appearances. There is no uniform appearance for lesions. As a result, the lesions can be mistaken for something else. Most commonly, those afflicted by herpes say their lesions can resemble:
- ingrown hairs
- insect bites
- razor burn
- ‘red spots’
Don’t Wait for Symptoms – Get Tested Now
You should get an STD test even if you are not showing any symptoms. Many avoid getting tested because they are not exhibiting any symptoms or because their symptom overlap with/are mistaken for other existing illnesses. This can lead to spreading the STD, and if left untreated, can result in severe health risks or even death. A untreated STD can never just go away on their own – only with proper treatment. If you are unsure as to whether your symptoms are the result of an STD, please visit Symptoms for more information.
Why You Should Get Tested
Sexually transmitted diseases are one of the most overwhelming yet under-recognized health problems in the United States. Even though it is recommended to get tested every three months when you’re sexually active, the stigma surrounding STD testing makes it a sensitive subject instead of a common check-up.
Per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year and approximately 25% of Americans have some form of an incurable STD. To make matters worse, most STDs won’t display symptoms at first or will even display symptoms that can be mistaken for another illness, such as a yeast infection or the flu. Instead, those that are infected will remain completely unaware of their status, leading to them spreading the infection to others and not getting treatment until it is too late.
It’s no wonder that for Herpes alone, 85% of people who are infected don’t even know they have it. Chlamydia, one of the most common and curable STDs, will often not display symptoms until it is too late. As a result, 1 in 5 infected women will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), resulting in reproductive issues and even infertility. Despite being the deadliest STD of all, 1 in 7 people who are infected with HIV do not realize that they are infected – their initial symptoms are usually shrugged off as the flu. Only until it is too late, when HIV turns into AIDS, do they realize that they are infected.
Long story short, not getting tested for STDs can be extremely dangerous as some STDs can have some life-threatening symptoms if they go untreated. STDs are usually stereotyped as a big joke – a mere annoyance, like an itch or burning sensation that just won’t go away. The truth is that untreated STDs can ruin more than just your physical health – it can ruin all of your life’s plans. Everything in your life can become tainted by an STD – having children, your relationships, even your life expectancy. The best cure is prevention, and the best way to prevent STDs is to get regularly checked.
At Private STD Screen, we believe in making STD testing readily accessible, striving for the utmost discretion, and delivering quick results. Our convenient checkout process makes buying a test a breeze. Just buy your test, go to a testing location near you, give your sample, and receive your results within a few days through our secure portal. No confusing paperwork, no long waits, and very discreet. Know your status today!