Facts about Herpes: What is Herpes?

Herpes is a disease, which is easily transmitted by direct contact with the body fluid or the cut of an infected individual.

Transmission of herpes may also occur through skin-to-skin contact during the no symptoms period. Essentially, there are two types of herpes: Herpes type 1 (HSV -1 or oral herpes) and herpes type 2 (HSV -2 or genital herpes). A herpes cycle lasts from the active period – wherein blisters appear, containing infectious virus till the last period – to the remission period.

Causes of Herpes

Oral and genital herpes are caused by an infection of the herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 and genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2.

Herpes viruses are passed from one person to another during sexual contact that involves touching of the mouth or genitals, or vaginal or anal sex. Oral sex can spread genital herpes to the mouth or transmit oral herpes to the genitals. Oral herpes can also multiply by kissing and other activities in which you are exposed to the mucous membranes or saliva of a person with oral herpes

Any person who takes in sexual activity can obtain and pass on a herpes infection. This includes heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual men and women. The more one night stands you have or had in the past, the greater are the risk of catching a herpes infection. It’s important to know that herpes can be spread between people even when no blisters or symptoms are present.

The herpes virus can also be passed from an infected mother to her newborn during vaginal delivery. Hence, the pregnant women with genital herpes should consult her doctor to prevent transmission of the herpes.

Risk factors for Herpes

Besides acquiring herpes through skin-to-skin contact and direct contact with the bodily fluids of the infected person, there are certain factors which increases the risk of transmitting the herpes infection. They are as follows…

Born to a mother with active genital herpes during pregnancy or delivery

Low immune system because of some medications or treatment or due to some diseases like HIV/AIDS or lupus.

Direct exposure to the saliva or any other bodily fluids of a person with oral herpes

Past history of any sexually transmitted disease (STD)

Unprotected sex, including vaginal, oral or anal sex

Symptoms of Herpes

Symptoms of herpes vary from person to person. Both men and women with herpes may have vague or mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Quite a few people with herpes may have recurring outbreaks of symptoms. This recurrence can go on for days, months or even years. Recurrences are generally milder in nature and do not last as long as the initial outbreak.

Symptoms of oral herpes include:

Fever

Itching, discomfort or pain in the areas of the blisters and sores

Small blisters filled with clear yellowish fluid.

Sore throat

Swollen neck lymph nodes

After a period of time, blisters, sores or cuts can reappear due to reactivation of the herpes virus due to some illness or stress.

Symptoms of genital herpes

Early symptoms of genital herpes occur two to six days after exposure and can include:

Primary symptoms

Decreased appetite

Fever

General feeling of malaise or not feeling well

Headache

Muscle aches

Pain, sensitivity or itching near or on the penis, vulva or rectum.

Secondary symptoms

Appearance of groups of blisters on areas, such as the genitals, vagina, cervix, thighs, buttocks or anus
Blisters that break open and develop into painful lesions or sores that last about two weeks
Chills
Fatigue
Fever
Swollen lymph glands
Unusual vaginal discharge

Treatment for Herpes

Although there is no complete cure for herpes available in the market, there are numerous medicines available to reduce the pain and symptoms of herpes. These medicines delay the onset of serious herpes related health complications and lowers the possibility of spreading herpes to others.

Besides the normal medicines and ointments, apply sun block or lip balm to lips when outdoors, apply cold packs to the affected areas, avoid touching affected areas, prefer cesarean delivery if you have genital herpes, keep the area clean and dry, don’t share your personal items like toothbrush etc and lastly wash the affected area thoroughly after using the bathroom.

Read more Personal Health, Diet Fitness stories on www.healthmeup.com

Gonorrhoea is the most popular STD, but Get Yourself Tested can help

According to recently published figures it appears that Gonorrhoea is now the most widespread STD, eclipsing the numbers associated with Chlamydia. The CDC has stated that around 700,000 people are infected with Gonorrhoea every year in the USA, as opposed to Chlamydia which falls just short of 70,000 per annum. Of those 700,000 around only half of those cases are reported to the CDC which means there’s a lot of dirty genitals wandering about out there spreading their filthy gossip.

The CDC also indicated that the highest percentage of newly acquired cases fall into the 15-24 year old bracket in both males and females.

Get it for free. The test, not Gonorrhoea.

So how does this disease get around? Same as most other STD’s; by contact with an infected penis, vagina, mouth or anus and the symptoms are as follows.

For men who display symptoms:

  • A burning irritation while urinating
  • A mucus-like discharge (usually white, yellow or green) from the penis
  • Pain and/or swelling in the testicles.

For women who display symptoms:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Excessive vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding outside of menstrual cycle

Although the anus and mouth can become infected they also quite often show no symptoms, but an oral infection can lead to a sore throat, inflammation and a ‘cracking’ of the tongue. If you think you might have picked the disease up and aren’t sure, “get yourself tested”. Here’s how:

[adsense]‘Get Yourself Tested’ is a nationwide drive by Planned Parenthood and as such they are offering free tests on a ‘walk-in’ basis throughout April.

The tests are done quickly and no blood samples are taken, just swabs or perhaps a urine sample. HIV test results are returned within 20 minutes and only require an oral swab.

The CDC recommend regular testing for STD’s although individuals should take it upon themselves to reduce the risk of infection by using condoms or being more selective about their sexual partners. In other words, don’t be such a slut, and if you really must, at least rubber-up first.

MTV are helping to promote GYT and you can find out more by visiting the website at http://www.itsyoursexlife.com/gyt/.

Please share your thoughts on Get Yourself Tested and Gonorrhoea by leaving a comment.

Read about Gonorrhoea in more depth; Genital Herpes; Facebook may cause increase in STD’s; Candida in women and men and Chlamydia.

Images: midtown.wmctv.com; sciencephoto.com

 

Sexually Transmitted Disease: Scabies

Scabies is caused by a tiny ‘itch’ mite called Sarcoptes scabiei and results in a highly contagious and extremely itchy skin condition. The mites infest their human hosts by burrowing beneath the derma where they feed.

The mites are very small eight-legged parasites, not to be confused with their larger insect brethren who only have six legs, and measure about 1/3 millimetre in length. When burrowed down inside the skin they produce incessant itching which is generally worse at night.

Only female mites infest humans and can be seen with under a magnifying glass or microscope. Although the mites can crawl they are unable to jump or fly.

At temperatures below 20 C they become immobile but may still live for some considerable time in that state.

How do you get scabies?

Scabies is actually very common with cases reported worldwide totalling around 300 million every year. Cases of the human variation (it can affect cats and dogs too but is not cross contagious) go back as far as 2,500 years. In recent times it has been more prevalent in nursing homes, hospitals and among the homeless, although all social groups are susceptible.

The mites are transferred from one host to another via direct skin-to-skin contact. The condition is considered by many as a sexually transmitted disease, and while that is one of the biggest causes of spreading, it is not exclusive to sexual contact.

It is also possible for people hugging to pass mites on, and cases in babies are often a result of the mother contracting the condition first.

The mites can live in fabrics on clothes, furniture and even wallpapers but it is extremely difficult to catch them from anything other than close, personal human contact with a carrier.

The parasites can live in the body for a few months before symptoms begin to show, but during that time the host is able to transmit the mites.

What are the symptoms and how can you get rid of scabies?

[adsense]One of the first symptoms is a blotchy rash which blisters. It appears in bodily ‘creases’ such as the webbing between fingers and toes, the wrists and elbows, naval and groin. They may also appear on the neck and somach.

The itching from scabies eventually becomes unbearable, and unlike eczema it doesn’t subside. After a few months of having scabies the host will be unable to sleep or function normally due to the discomfort.

Getting rid of the condition is quite straight forward and a trip to your doctor is the first step. There you will be prescribed one of several ‘scabicide’ options which include:

  • Permethrin cream, which is applied from the neck down and left overnight  (washed off in the morning)
  • A 200g per KG of body weight Ivermectin which is taken orally
  • Sulphur in petrolatum which is one of the earliest known cures and is safe for use during pregnancy

After a few weeks the relief from itching is dramatically noticeable but if symptoms persist go back to your doctor immediately.

Please let us know if this article was helpful by leaving a comment.

Read about other STD’s like: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Syphilis and HIV/ AIDS.

images: healthpatio.com, scabiespicturesofrash.com

Casual sex: Natalie Portman is a commitment phobic in No Strings Attached

Natalie Portman has slipped out of her tutu and into the shoes of a career-oriented commitment phobic for her role as Emma,  a doctor slogging out 80 hour weeks and with time for nothing more than emotionless hook-ups. Come along old-time friend Adam, played by Ashton Kutcher, throw genuine emotional and romantic investment out of the bag and replace it with a heady does of passionate, uninhibited casual sex, and for a while their friends with benefits plan is going swimmingly. That is, of course, until one of them starts to yearn for the real thing.

Director Ivan Reitman said in an interview that the movie speaks to the kinds of sexual relationships young people have today: “I’ve noticed from my own kids that with this generation in particular, young people find it easier to have a sexual relationship than an emotional one. That is how the sexes deal with each other today.”

The 1980s flick When Harry Met Sally was considered groundbreaking in its time for raising the question whether men and woman ever just be friends without sex getting in the way.  Now, Reitman suggests, there’s a new dynamic at play: “Is it possible for a man and woman to have a purely sexual relationship without emotions getting in the way?”

Casual sex — be it a one off sexual encounter or, as is in the movie, an agreement to have “no strings attached” sex that stretches over a longer period of time — is sex without commitment. It is sex for the pure pleasure of sex, rather than for emotional satisfaction.

“I’ve done a lot of these kind of movies, but this one is a little bit more grow-up,” Kutcher said of his role. “It looks at whether leaving feelings out of it actually works. For a new breed of woman, career comes first, and that has changed the nature of relationships. We should have just called the movie Clooney. That’s the kind of relationship George Clooney has had for the past 20 years. He seems happy.”

[adsense]Whatever your take on casual sex may be, it goes without saying that the world of sex buddies  — and  hook-ups without hang-ups, shagging without sharing, passion without promise  — can invite a host of undesirables, from pregnancy to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. Due to the nature of casual sex, chances are you won’t know the sexual history of your partner and what STD they could potentially have.

In case you’re still thinking it’s not something that can affect you, read this for a reality check: Each year in the U.S. alone there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs, about half of which occur among youth ages 15-24. Left untreated, STDs can cause a host of problems, including infertility, so safe sex is really your safest bet. And getting yourself tested would be a wise move too, especially when one takes into consideration that the majority of us are not even aware that we have an STD.

Take Chlamydia, for example, also referred to as the “silent infection” or the “quiet love bug”. It is one of the most common STDs affecting women and men, yet around 75% of women and 50% of men are not even aware they have it. This can have dire consequences, as left untreated woman can be left unable to conceive a child and men could find themselves with painfully inflamed testicles and a reduction in fertility.

Read here for more in depth information about how STDs are transmitted, how they can be avoided and what the symptoms are: Genital Herpes,  ChlamydiaGonorrheaCandida Yeast (Thrush).

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Valentine's Day: avoid genital herpes and other STDs from becoming an unwanted gift

In just a few hours, millions of roses and boxes of chocolate will be exchanged on the day where romance takes the front seat. Unfortunately, however, where there is passion and love, or just a bit of fun on the side, there can be some very undesirable consequences in the form of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) if the correct preventative measures aren’t taken.

How fitting then, that Valentine’s Day has also been proclaimed National Condom Day, with public health officials hoping to use the designation to highlight the role condoms can play in potentially limiting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and helping to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Still living in a cloud, thinking it’s not something that can affect you? Then read this for a reality check: Each year in the U.S. there are approximately 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted Diseases, about half of which occur among youth ages 15-24. And according to a CDC federal study, one in four teenage girls has an STD.

Left untreated, STDs can cause a host of problems, including infertility, so safe sex is really your safest bet. And getting yourself tested would be a wise move too, especially when we take into consideration that the majority of us are not even aware that we have an STD. Take Chlamydia, for example, also referred to as the “silent infection” or the “quiet love bug”. It is one of the most common STDs affecting women and men, yet around 75% of women and 50% of men are not even aware they have it. This can have dire consequences, as left untreated woman can be left unable to conceive a child and men could find themselves with painfully inflamed testicles and a reduction in fertility.

So remember to protect yourselves and have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day!

Read here for more in depth information about how STDs are transmitted, how they can be avoided and what the symptoms are: Genital Herpes,  ChlamydiaGonorrhea, Candida Yeast (Thrush).

Candida yeast infection – aka Thrush – in women

Vaginal Thrush

Vaginal thrush is most commonly caused by a fungus called Candida albicans, which grows naturally in the vagina. However, other types of Candida fungus can  set off the condition. It is also possible for the fungus to be present without causing any symptoms – this is the case in 20-50% of women, the NHS estimates.

Other causal factors

There are a few accepted and possible risk factors, which have been known to increase a woman’s risk of developing thrush. These include:

Antibiotics – these can significantly increase the risk of developing thrush, but the Candida fungus must already be present

  • Diabetes – especially when the condition is poorly controlled
  • Pregnancy – the hormone changes occurring during pregnancy can lead to thrush
  • Weakened immune system – this makes it more difficult for the body to fight off infection and regulate the spread of the fungus
  • Contraceptives – especially combined oral contraceptives may increase the risk of thrush
  • Tight clothing – wearing tights, for example, too often is thought to heighten risk

Symptoms

The most common symptoms include:

  • External vaginal itching
  • Soreness and irritation
  • Discharge – this can be either thin and watery or thick and white and is usually odourless
  • Pain and/or discomfort while urinating
  • Pain and/or discomfort when having sex

Vulvovaginal inflammation – this can cause redness, swelling and cracked skin (in sever cases) and satellite lesions, which may also indicate the presence of another fungal infection, or the Herpes Virus.

Treatments

Candida is described as non-complicated when the sufferer experiences less than four bouts of it per year. If it occurs more often than that or if there is severe vulvovaginal inflammation, then the condition is termed as complicated.

[adsense] Although over-the-counter remedies are available, it is advisable to seek the advice of a doctor who can usually provide a diagnosis based on the symptoms. He or she may also take a swab to test the pH level in the discharge or send the sufferer to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections.

If symptoms are mild, the doctor will usually prescribe a short course of anti-fungal medication. The medicine can be taken orally in the form of a pill or as a pessary inserted directly into the vagina. Topical creams are also available to relieve external soreness and itching.

Pregnant women should not use treatments available without a prescription, but should go straight to their doctor if they think they have Candida. Those who do use over-the-counter medication should only do so if their symptoms are mild and non-recurrent and should seek professional advice if symptoms do not go after 7 to 14 days.

A few home remedies, which can be used to relieve symptoms and lessen the risk of thrush returning include:

  • Washing the vaginal area just with water – avoiding soaps, shower gels, vaginal deodorants etc.
  • Wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing when possible
  • Avoiding latex condoms, lubricants and spermicidal creams.

Click here to read about Candida in men and other sexually transmitted infections Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and bladder infection Interstitial Cystitis.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Myths and facts about genital herpes

For all the millions of people diagnosed with genital herpes each year, there are millions more who have been infected with the sexually transmitted disease, unbeknownst to them.

Genital herpes is caused by the highly contagious herpes simplex virus which affects the genital region, with break outs often also occuring on the face, causing cold sores. It can also lead to whitlows, which appear on the hands.

Unfortunately misinformation is rampant when it comes to the virus, of which there are two strands — HSV-2 and the more common HSV-1.

Here are some of the most common facts and myths regarding herpes:

Myth

Sex is off limits afer a proven infection

Fact: An infected person can still have sex, but it is important to abstain from sexual contact if you have symptoms, or oral or genital sores. If you are asymptomatic (you don’t have any signs or symptoms, but the virus is still present on the skin), you could still be contagious and so it is important to use condoms. Antiviral drugs suppress symptomatic and asymptomatic symptoms and drugs such as acyclovir, valaciclover and famiclovir have been shown to reduce asymptomatic HSV shedding by as much as 80 – 90%.

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Myth

Having herpes is a sign that you are promiscuous

Fact: Herpes is very common and can affect anyone who has ever had sex. The number of sexual partners is not a factor in contracting the disease as, contrary to other STDs, genital herpes persists indefinitely and can be transmitted for many years, perhaps for life. Anytime that you practice unsafe sex, even with a  loved one, you increase your risk for all STDs.

Myth

Cold sores and herpes and two entirely different things

Fact: Cold sores act as a form of herpes and like herpes, stem from the herpes simplex virus. If you have oral-genital sex with someone who has a cold sore, this virus can give you genital herpes. Both types of the herpes virus can infect any region of the body if not treated. Merely touching a blister or herpes sore is enough for the infection to spread to other body parts.

Myth

You can get genital herpes from toilet seats and other inanimate objects

Fact: The genital herpes virus dries out when it is exposed to air, and is quite fragile.  The microorganisms that cause genital herpes can’t survive outside the human body on a surface like a toilet seat for very long. There have been no proven cases of genital herpes transmission from a toilet seat.

Click here to find out the best ways to treat cold sores and read more about sexually transmitted diseases Genital Herpes, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV/ AIDS.

Celebrities who reportedly carry the herpes virus include actors Robin Williams, David Hasselhoff and Liza Minnelli.

Also read about Jenna Jameson calling the porn industry a “ticking time bomb”, how a new vaginal gel could cut the risk of HIV infection and how Facebook may be the cause of a recent increase in syphilis cases.

Images: Wikimedia Commons and oralherpespicture.com

Sexually Transmitted Disease: Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease (STD) in America, caused by the bacteriumchlamydia trachomatis.

The curable infection, which affects up to one in ten sexually active young people and up to three to four million people each year, is found in the semen and vaginal fluids and is usually spread during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby.

Symptoms:

Chlamydia is often referred to as the “silent infection” as it often remains undiagnosed because there are usually either no symptoms or they are so mild, that they can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms can take anywhere between one to three weeks to appear, or several months later, or only when the infection has spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating and an abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. Men can suffer from swollen or painful testicles and women may experience vaginal bleeding between periods or during or after sex, as well as lower abdominal pain.

The “quiet love bug” is often confused with gonorrhea because the symptoms of both diseases are similar.

Treatment:

Testing involves taking a sample of cells using a swab (like a cotton bud) from the vagina or urethra, or from the rectun or throat if you have had anal or oral sex. A urine sample may also be tested. If you have symptoms of conjunctivitus (discharge from the eye), your eyes will also be tested.

Chlamydia can successfully be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, the infection can pose serious health threats including pregnancy complications, infertility and athritis.

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Avoiding Chlamydia:

A mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one way to avoid the infection and every time you have a new sexual partner you should be tested. Using condoms during intercourse usually prevents infection.

Interesting facts:

“The quiet love bug” was first seen under a microscope in 1907, but it was already documented in a 5,000-year-old Egyptian document called the Ebers Papyrus.

Today infection of the eyes by a strain of chlamydia is the leading cause of preventable blindness in developing nations. In ancient times treatment for this involved using a combination of castor oil tree leaves, goose grease and breast milk! Interestingly, breast milk is known to have anti-chlamydial activity, according to a 1997 report.

Read here about gonorrheagenital herpes and about how Facebook may be the cause of the increase of the sexually transmitted disease syphillis.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Sexually Transmitted Disease: Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, also known as ‘the clap’, is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and can be very dangerous if left untreated.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the overall rate of gonorrhea is on the increase again after a steady decline during the last two decades. About 700,000 new infections occur every year in the U.S.

The infection is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that grows and multiplies in warm, moist places (the penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra and throat) and is spread by vaginal and anal intercoursse and oral sex. It can also be passed on from a pregnant woman to her child during birth.

Symptoms:

Gonorrhea often remains undiagnosed because there are usually either no symptoms or they are so mild, that they can be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. Symptoms can take up to a month to appear and include a burning sensation when urinating and an abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. Men can suffer from swollen or painful testicles and women may experience vaginal bleeding between periods.

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Treatment:

Gonorrhea can be successfully treated with antibiotics, although an increase in drug-resistant strains of the STD is making treatment more difficult. Left untreated, the infection can pose serious health threats including pregnancy complications, infertility and athritis.

Need an STD test?

To diagnose gonorrhea health care providers test any discharge or take cell samples from the parts of the body likely to be infected. A urine sample may also be tested.

In the not too distant future, it may even be possible to avoid making the often embarassing trip to the doctor and test STDs like gonorrhea, herpes and chlamydia using mobile phones or computers. According to a report in the Guardian, a system, similar to pregnancy testing kits, is being developed that will be able to provide a quick and private diagnosis of whether or not one has an STD.

It will work by placing urine or saliva onto a computer chip and then plugging it into one’s phone or computer to reveal the results just mintues later.

Avoiding Gonorrhea:

The most surefire way to avoid the STD is to abstain from vaginal and anal intercourse and oral sex. When that isn’t an option, using a condom is the safest bet.

Read here about genital herpes and about how Facebook may be the cause of the increase of the sexually transmitted disease syphillis.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Ex-wife claimed David Hasselhoff kept herpes quiet

David Hasselhoff divorced his wife Pamela Bach in 2006 after 16 years of marriage. At first, it seemed the pair would split amicably and the actor’s publicist seemed to be doing all he could to keep the matter quiet. Both cited irreconcilable differences and Bach even told The Associated Press: “I’ve always loved him and always will, and have love and compassion for him. It’s a very, very sad day, but a day to move on.”

However, court papers seen by British tabloid The Sun painted a different picture.

The documents showed Pamela Bach accusing the former Baywatch star of violent drunken behaviour, assault on their two teenage daughters and of not telling her he had the sexually transmitted disease genital herpes.
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“At the time of our marriage I was not informed that the petitioner had herpes…He failed to tell me about his condition for many years, potentially exposing me to the extremely dangerous virus,” Hollywood.com cites the actress.

She added that Hasselhoff had abused alcohol since the beginning of their marriage and was often “violent and uncontrollable or completely incapacitated”. So much so, that he “frequently loses control of his bladder and bowels, urinating and defecating himself”.

A further statement said the Knight Rider star was abusive towards his teenage daughters Taylor Anna and Hayley, whom he has slapped on the backside while intoxicated, verbally insulted and laid naked in bed with. He had also allegedly been unfaithful and untruthful throughout the marriage.

Health site MedicineNet states that genital herpes affects 45 million Americans. Although effective treatment is available, the virus incurable and will remain with the carrier for the rest of their lives. Apart from psychological distress, herpes manifests itself in the form of painful lesions on and around the penis or vagina. This is often accompanied by flu-like symptoms.

Other celebrities who have been accused of hiding their genital herpes include actors Robin Williams and Liza Minnelli.

Images: PR Photos and Wikimedia Commons