Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout
About Your Diagnosis
Genital herpes is an infection of the genitals that is caused by the herpes type 2 virus. It is transmittedby sexual contact, and generally affects the penis, vagina, and cervix. Diagnosis is made by culturing a lesion. This disease is considered to be incurable because symptoms recur when the virus is reactivated; however, symptoms can be controlled.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Painful blisters occur on the penis or vaginal area, and may extend into the vagina to the cervix. They are preceded by burning and itching. In several days the blisters rupture and leave shallow, painful ulcers, which take about 3 weeks to heal. There may be painful urination and occasionally fever.

Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication called acyclovir. The most common side effects of this medication are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness. Warm sitz baths may ease discomfort. Intercourse must be avoided until symptoms are gone. Condoms do not provide a safe barrier because the virus and lesions can also be on the thighs and buttocks. Careful hand washing is a must. Do no allow anyone to share towels or washcloths. Women must get a Pap smear yearly because herpes has been shown to be associated with the development of cervical cancer.

The DOs
• Continue to take the medication prescribed even if the symptoms are gone; the virus is still there.
• Use warm sitz baths or soaks with Epsom salts to ease the discomfort.
• Try pouring warm water over the genitals if urination is painful.
• Notify sexual partners if you have symptoms for the first time.
• Avoid contact with lesions.
• Wash hands well after using the toilet.
• Avoid sexual intercourse until symptoms are gone.
• Use latex condoms during intercourse after symptoms are gone.
• Women should wear underpants or pantyhose with a cotton crotch.
• Remind your doctor of your disease if you become pregnant so precautions can be taken to prevent the baby from becoming infected.
• Avoid situations that may trigger an outbreak: stress, sunbathing, other infections, and trauma.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t skip doses or stop taking the medications if the symptoms are gone.
• Don’t share towels or washcloths.
• Don’t have intercourse until symptoms are gone, and then use latex condoms.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If during treatment you have unusual swelling or bleeding.
• If you have a fever and feel ill after treatment has begun.
•If your symptoms don’t improve in a week after beginning treatment.

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