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What is Vaginal Herpes?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Vaginal herpes is a symptom of infection with the Herpes Simplex Virus I or II. The infection may initially look like either a single blister or a small rash of blasters and they may be located on or in the vagina, or on any other part of the genitals. If present in the vagina, some women may be unaware they are infected, but if they feel unusual itching or irritation and suspect they may have herpes, they should see a doctor for a confirmed diagnosis.

It’s the case that vaginal herpes is common, and in fact women are much more likely to get this condition than men because they have more mucous membrane surface around the genitals than do men. In most cases vaginal herpes is Herpes Simplex Virus II, which is called genital herpes. Yet it’s also possible to get oral herpes on the vagina.

The disease in both cases tends to be sexually transmitted, and any sexual activity with a person with herpes may result in infection. It is also possible to get the condition when a sexual partner shows no active herpes infection. Contrary to what was popularly believed in the past, the condition can be contagious at all times.

There is no cure for vaginal herpes, although several vaccines are being tested, one of which is specifically targeted to women. This doesn’t mean a herpes vaccine will be available soon. Doctors project no release of a vaccine for many years yet. The need for a vaccine is considered extremely important since estimates suggest that 25% of women in America have genital herpes.

Waiting for a vaccine and hoping vaginal herpes won’t occur is not a viable present solution for preventing it. The best precautions are to not have unprotected sex. Condom use is always important, and people should not have sex any time a partner has an active outbreak. A partner can help too by taking medications like acyclovir® which may reduce number of outbreaks and lower risk of potentially shedding the virus in between active infections.

Since herpes is so contagious, many women who do have it are concerned about having children. If aware of the condition, women should discuss this with their physicians, but typically it doesn’t mean people can’t have children. Doctors may handle this in different ways. Sometimes anti-viral medications are given so infection doesn’t occur, but if herpes lesions are present during birth, it is likely Cesarean section is the safest option for the baby.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By fBoyle — On Mar 13, 2013

I've heard that if someone with vaginal herpes takes their medicine on time and takes vitamin C and zinc supplements, there won't be breakouts.

Is this enough to treat this condition?

By turquoise — On Mar 12, 2013

@literally45-- Only medical testing can determine which virus one has. The blisters are not different enough to identify.

But oral herpes on the vagina, although it can happen, is not common. These blisters usually show up around the mouth. So more than likely, blisters on the vagina is due to genital herpes virus.

Treating herpes blisters before was more difficult. Now there are more advanced viral medications that keep the virus under control and reduce breakouts. It's still important to take precautions before sexual activity and warn all sexual partners of the infection though.

We also need to teach our kids about this infection. I saw a fifteen year old with vaginal herpes outbreak at the hospital last week. It's unfortunate for someone so young to be dealing with this.

By literally45 — On Mar 12, 2013

This is so confusing. How can anyone tell if they have herpes type two vaginal blisters or herpes type one oral blisters on the vagina? Will they look different?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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