Anal herpes, also known as genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus and is one of the most commonly transmitted sexual infections. The worst part of this virus is that it may not cause any symptoms on your genitals but still you become contagious and infect your sex partner. The virus spreads from one person to the other through sex only and not by any other means.
The virus will remain inactive for several days and even weeks and may cause infection after many months. The virus will safely remain on your nerves until the conditions are favorable (lowered immunity) affecting the skin leading to infection.
Herpes Simplex Virus or shortly known as HSV causes two types of infection. The first one is HSV-1 which causes oral herpes affecting the mouth and lips. The second one is HSV-2 that causes anal herpes and is common among young women.
How Common is Anal Herpes?
Anal herpes is quite common in the American states and about 1 out of every 5 people below 12 years acquires it by sex. There are millions of more people having this infection in their body but without any symptoms. HSV-2 is present in about 60-80% of adult population in the USA. Women are more prone to develop anal herpes than men. It is because women’s vagina gets easily infected when compared to men’s genitals. Again genital herpes is more among black people than whites.
In most of the cases, anal herpes will not show any visible symptoms and there is every chance for you to carry it without your knowledge. The virus will produce symptoms after the incubation period causing tiny red sores or white blisters on the genitals. It can cause pain or intense irritation on the vagina causing ulcers. In severe cases the ulcers may rupture oozing out fluid with blood. It can cause painful urination and tenderness on the private parts during infection.
Some people may get flu like symptoms having mild fever, sore throat and body pain. It may also cause swelling of lymph nodes on your throat and groin. Initially sores would appear on the area of infection. Subsequently the person may touch the sore due to itching and rub his/her fingers on other parts like buttocks or eyes where the infection can easily spread.
Anal herpes can cause painful sores on the mouth, throat, buttocks, anus and genitals. It is quite possible for the same person to get infected again several times a year, since the virus will remain in her/his body dormant. It may cause burning pain on the genitals and severe muscle pain in your legs and lower back.
Anal herpes or genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus-2. The virus will enter your body through sexual contact or direct skin-to skin contact and is highly contagious. The virus can easily spread to other persons through sex even if you are not having any visible symptoms.
Who are at risk?
People of young age, who have multiple sex partners, are at high risk of getting anal herpes infection. Being a young woman makes you prone to develop this sexual infection easily.
Having painful open sores on your genitals makes you prone to develop other sexually transmitted disease easily. Hence having genital herpes increases the risk of getting HIV or AIDS easily. Pregnant women who develop anal herpes can pass on the infection to the fetus during the delivery which can cause severe complications in the newborn child. In rare cases, HSV-2 can lead to meningitis or brain fever.
During the routine pelvic exam, your doctor may look for sores on the vagina. She may order for viral culture by testing the tissue sample from the vagina. She may also order for PCR (polymerase Chain Reaction) test to confirm the type of virus.
Antiviral medications are useful in treating the symptoms of anal herpes but it cannot be cured completely. By taking the prescription medications one can reduce the intensity of the symptoms and shorten the recurrent outbreaks. Common drugs used for treating genital herpes are Acyclovir, Famvir and Valacyclovir.
Once you are diagnosed with anal herpes, you should be open and discuss with it your partner first. Avoid from any type of sexual activity and get your partner/partners tested immediately. In severe cases of outbreak, your doctor may recommend injecting the antiviral drugs intravenously.
Tips for Prevention :
- Anal herpes can be prevented by limiting the number of sex partners. Stick on to one partner who has sex only with you.
- Insist on using condom each time you have sex with new partner.
- Avoid having sex if you are doubtful of having infection and even if you are not having any symptoms.
- Anal herpes is contagious and can easily spread to other person through sex.
- Stay away from any sexual contact until your doctor gives clearance.
- If you are a sex worker, go for regular screenings and pelvic exam.
- Take precautions if you are pregnant and avoid having sex with others except the known partner. You will have to discuss with your doctor if you think you are infected and take preventive antiviral drugs as suggested by your doctor.
- HSV-2 cannot be cured like other sexually transmitted infections. Once you are infected with virus it remains in your body lifelong in the nerve cells. It can remain dormant for years together without causing infection.