Genital Herpes Treatments

The following medicines are licensed, safe and effective genital herpes treatments available in the UK.

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About Genital Herpes

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is caused by a virus called Herpes simplex. Most people who get genital herpes get it quite mildly but some will have painful symptoms.

Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition. The virus remains in your body and can become active again. The average rate of recurrence is four to five times in the first two years after being infected. However, over time it tends to become active less frequently and each outbreak becomes less severe.

Medication, education and self-help treatment help to reduce symptoms and limit the number of herpes outbreaks.

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How common is Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes affects 70% of the UK population.

Around 80% of people with genital herpes don’t even know they have it, as there are often no symptoms. However, even without symptoms, it’s possible to pass genital herpes on to a sexual partner because the virus may sometimes be present in your genital area.

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Causes of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the virus Herpes simplex (HSV). There are two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. The virus enters the body through small cracks in the skin or through the moist soft lining (mucous membranes) of the mouth, vagina, rectum, urethra (tube where urine comes out) and under the foreskin.

During outbreaks:

  • Keep the infected area clean and dry
  • Try not to touch the sores
  • Wash hands after contact
  • Avoid sexual contact from the time you first notice symptoms until the sores have healed

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Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Most people with HSV do not experience any symptoms when first infected. You may have some or all of the following:

  • Feeling generally unwell with flu-like symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, swollen glands, aches and pains in the lower back and down the legs or in the groin
  • Painful red blisters, Stinging, tingling or itching in the genital or anal area
  • Open sores around genitals, rectum, thighs and buttocks
  • Pain on urination caused by the urine flowing over the sores

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Available treatments

Available treatments for Genital Herpes:

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Lifestyle advice

  • Communicate with your partner
  • Use condoms every time you have sex
  • Consider using daily suppressive therapy to reduce the number of outbreaks and lower the risk of infecting others with the virus

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