Long-Term Effects of Genital Herpes


The symptoms of the initial outbreaks of genital herpes are normally the most severe. People with genital herpes infections generally experience more mild symptoms and fewer outbreaks over time. However, some people do experience chronic outbreaks, for which preventive treatment is often helpful. Genital herpes infections can also rarely lead to infections in other parts of the body.

Frequent Outbreaks

  • One of the most frequent long-term effects of genital-herpes infection is frequently occurring outbreaks. Although most people who do experience symptoms of genital herpes actually have fewer outbreaks over time, outbreaks for some people can occur as often as once every two or three weeks, according to Microbiology and Immunology Online.

Daily Suppressive Therapy

  • Daily suppressive therapy is available to help reduce the number of outbreaks a genital-herpes sufferer experiences. This involves taking an antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir or famciclovir, every day, according to the Mayo Clinic. In addition to cutting one's chances of recurring outbreaks, daily suppressive therapy may cut the chances of spreading genital herpes to sexual partners, although transmission, even with the use of condoms, is still possible.

HSV Proctitis

  • Genital herpes can lead to HSV, or herpes simplex virus, proctitis, a condition in which the anus and/or rectum swell, according to Microbiology and Immunology Online. HSV proctitis can lead to painful ulceration, bloody stool or stool with mucous and pus, trouble urinating and constipation, and may severely impact people who are also HIV-positive. HSV proctitis is treated with the same drugs used to manage other genital herpes cases.

HSV Encephalitis

  • Infection with herpes simplex viruses can lead to encephalitis. This causes fever and possible brain damage and may involve symptoms such as seizures. However, most cases of HSV encephalitis are caused by HSV-1, the virus that causes oral herpes, and not HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. This is a rare complication of infection with HSV-2.

HSV Meningitis

  • Infection with genital herpes can also lead to meningitis, a swelling of the meninges, or protective layers on the spinal cord and brain. Meningitis can lead to severe fever and headache, stiffness in the neck, light sensitivity, extreme tiredness, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of HSV meningitis generally clear up on their own, Microbiology and Immunology Online notes.


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