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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.