Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that affects the mouth and genital regions. It is an incurable disease, but medication can lessen the chance of recurrent outbreaks. Herpes can be especially dangerous because many people won't experience symptoms and may put their partners at risk unknowingly.
The herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV, is the virus that causes herpes. Genital herpes is less common in men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 4 women and 1 out of 8 men have herpes in the United States.
Many men who have herpes are unaware that they have contracted the disease because they are asymptomatic. However, if symptoms do arise, the man will probably notice sores on the penis, buttocks, scrotum, thighs, anus or inside the urethra. It may be difficult or painful for males to urinate, especially if there are sores in the urethra. Other symptoms that may appear include muscle aches, fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes in the groin area. The first outbreak is usually the worst, with recurrent outbreaks being less severe.
There are 2 types of the herpes simplex virus, both with different causes. HSV-1 causes oral sores, better known as fever blisters. HSV-1 can be caused by kissing and also through oral sex. It usually affects the mouth, but can affect the genital area if oral sex was involved. HSV-2 is spread by skin-to-skin contact and by sexual contact. It is possible for the eyes to become infected if someone touches a herpes lesion and then rubs their eyes before washing their hands. This type of infection is especially dangerous, as it can cause blindness.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes. However, maintenance medications such as Famvir, Zovirax and Valtrex can lessen your chance of an outbreak. If you do get an outbreak while on medication, your sores should heal faster, your symptoms will be less severe and you will have less chance of spreading the disease to your partner.
The best way to avoid becoming infected is by not having sex, or having sex with only one person that you know isn't infected with the herpes virus. If you're already involved in a relationship and she has herpes, wear a condom to protect yourself. If you don't want to wear a condom, make sure that you avoid having sex while she has an outbreak, as the chances of you contracting the virus are very high during those times. It is very important that she is aware of her body and can warn you when she feels symptoms coming on.