Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV. HSV-1 is most commonly associated with blistering lesions around the mouth known as cold sores. HSV-2 is associated with blistering lesions in genital areas that are exposed during sexual contact. However, both types of HSV can infect the mouth or the genital areas. After the initial outbreak of herpes, the virus travels through the nerves and resides in nerve tissue within the body. Reactivations, or repeat occurrences of the blisters, can occur throughout an individual's lifetime. Up to 50 million people in the U.S. are likely to have a genital herpes infection. Among people aged 14 to 49, an estimated 1 out of every 6 people have the infection.
What causes genital herpes?
The herpes viruses enter the skin or mucous membrane through tiny, even microscopic, breaks in the tissue. Because an infected person may transmit the disease even when he or she does not have signs or symptoms of herpes, avoiding sexual contact with someone with active blisters does not guarantee protection against the infection.
Individual outbreaks of herpes vary among affected people in terms of their frequency and severity. Outbreaks can be related to the function of the immune system and are typically worse in cases in which the immune system is suppressed; for example, at times of physical or emotional stress, during illness, or when you are taking certain medications.
How is genital herpes transmitted?
HSV infection is transmitted by direct person-to-person contact. Genital herpes is acquired through sexual contact of any type that involves contact with the genital areas. Genital herpes can also be caused by mouth to genital contact with a person who has cold sores or herpes infection of the mouth. Transmission from an infected male to a female partner is more likely than transmission from an infected woman to a male partner.
The symptoms of genital herpes vary among people. Most people infected with
HSV have no symptoms or have only mild symptoms, but some develop severe
symptoms. When symptoms do occur, the infected person usually develops one or
more painful blisters in the anal or genital areas that eventually ulcerate and
heal over a period of a few weeks.
of an initial infection can include: