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Getting tested for genital herpes

There are 2 types of herpes viruses, HSV 1, manifested in the facial area around the mouth and nose, and the other type is HSV 2, which attacks the genital area.

If you suspect that you may have genital herpes, or have possibly been exposed to the virus, visit the doctor to make certain. If sores and blisters have already manifested in the genital or anal areas, the chances are that genital herpes is present.

However, to make absolutely certain, and to establish the status of the disease, the doctor may recommend you take certain tests.

Some of the herpes testing protocols you could undergo

  • Cells from a fresh sore are scraped off and microscopically examined for markers known as antigens, which would be present in the cells if they are contaminated with HSV.
  • This test is done by extracting cells from a sore, or by using other fluids, such as urine, blood, or spinal fluid. The test can also differentiate between the two types of herpes viruses i.e. 1 & 2.
  • Testing spinal fluid is also done in cases where chronic herpes may be present, which can lead to a high risk of contracting viral meningitis or a brain infection. Herpes is considered chronic if you have 6 or more outbreaks within a year, which is also a sure sign that your immune system is seriously compromised.
  • During your examination, your health practitioner might take cells from a sore and look for the herpes virus under a microscope for an immediate result. However, this can give you a negative diagnosis if sores have already begun to heal.
  • Antibody tests are generally used to test for genital herpes. The body produces antibodies, or proteins, when an infection is present in the system. Combined with a blood test, the scrapings from the sores will be able to establish the status and the severity of signs of genital herpes.

Is it important to find out which type of HSV I have?

If you know which type of HSV you have, then it is possible to figure out how you got it. HSV-1 usually infects the genitals by means of oral sex, while HSV-2 is generally passed on through vaginal or anal sex. This knowledge can help you to possibly take some sort of precautionary care during your next sexual encounter.

However if you have facially-situated HRV 1, and had oral sex, the chances are that you also have genital herpes, especially if all the symptoms are present.

Fortunately, both types of herpes are treatable and respond well to treatment. There are creams and medications available that help to keep outbreaks to a minimum. The key to success is to get medical help as soon as you can.

Some tips to protect yourself

  • Use a condom each time you have sex, especially if you have more than one partner.
  • Don’t have sex if you notice sores or bumps on your partner’s genitals.
  • Refrain from oral sex, especially if there are signs of sores or blisters around the mouth. If possible, don’t even kiss!
  • Herpes spreads from skin-to-skin contact, so keep your distance if you or your partner has an outbreak. You cannot get herpes from a toilet seat, towels, or a swimming pool.
  • The lower your immune system is, the more outbreaks you may experience. Cultivating a healthy lifestyle, and following a healthy diet, will boost the immune system, help to keep the herpes virus (which never leaves the body) at bay for at least 90% of the time,

Remember that if a doctor has prescribed suppressive medication, taking it on a daily basis, is also an excellent therapy to control herpes outbreaks.

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