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Whittall Street Clinic is featured in Channel 4's new programme ‘The Sex Clinic’, starts 10pm Thursday 11th April.
New Rapid HIV Testing clinic at St Martin’s in the Bullring
Now open every Tuesday 11.00am - 3.15pm - no appointment needed.
The clinic is located upstairs in the St Martin’s Centre for Health & Healing next to the Church in the Bullring. Entrance to the clinic is via St Martin’s church shop.
Genital herpes is caused by a virus (human herpes virus), which is easily passed on from one person to another by skin contact. Herpes virus causes shallow sores that are tender, sensitive and keep recurring. On the lips or mouth, the virus causes “cold sore”. Genital herpes is the development of lesions similar to “cold sores” in the genital area.
Infection with herpes virus is life-long; once a person catches it, the virus does not leave the body. Not everyone infected with the virus develop symptoms of cold sores; they are still able to pass on the virus to others.
Herpes virus is inactive (dormant) most of the time (when it only resides in the nerve cells), without causing any symptoms. On episodes, however, it becomes active and causes outbreaks of sores in the ano-genital skin.
Infection with herpes virus does not cause long-term health problem in the majority of patients.
How is it passed on?
Herpes virus can be passed on by:
- Having unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
- Sharing sex toys with someone who has herpes sores
- Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has herpes sores
- Occasionally from mother to baby at birth
It is possible to get herpes from someone who has the virus but has never noticed any symptoms.
The first episode of genital herpes is usually the most severe; people may experience:
- Some people may feel tingling, burning, itching, or pain on the site before the blisters appear
- Small painful fluid filled blisters over:
- the vaginal lips, vagina, cervix, around anus, on the thighs and buttocks in women
- On the penis, scrotum, around the anus, on the thighs and buttocks in men
- On the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, or fingers in both sexes
- The blisters may burst after a couple of days and leave painful sores. The sores last between 7 and 14 days. They crust over before finally healing over.
- Feeling flu-like with a fever, swollen glands, tiredness and headache
- Enlarged and painful lymph node in the groin
- Pain on passing urine.
- Some women may have unusual vaginal discharge, or find it difficult to empty their bladder.
- An unusual discharge from urethra (tip of the penis)
Recurrent outbreaks may occur months after the first and are always less severe and shorter lived. Recurrent infections in men are generally milder and shorter than those in women.
Events that can bring on a herpes outbreak include:
- Genital irritation
- Physical or emotional stress
Recurrent episodes are generally milder and ulcers will clear faster. Some people may feel tingling, burning, itching, or pain before the blisters appear.
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
Diagnosis of genital herpes can be made clinically by an experienced doctor. Taking a swab from the ulcer and confirming the presence of herpes virus in the laboratory is the most reliable method of detection.
Diagnosis can be made more accurately if the blisters or ulcers are shown to an experienced clinician as soon as possible. You can attend any of our seven days a week clinics if you have symptoms of genital herpes. Alternatively, you can walk-in to our clinics. We shall do our best to see you on the day.
What is the treatment for herpes?
Genital herpes can not be cured. Anti-viral tablets can shorten the duration of sores, and their tenderness and pain. These drugs are most effective when taken immediately at the onset of the outbreak of genital herpes. Aciclovir and valaciclovir are antivirals usually used for genital herpes.
The treatment course for genital herpes is normally 5-7 days. Shorter duration of therapy is required for subsequent outbreaks. Use of acyclovir is considered safe during pregnancy.
People with frequent outbreaks of genital herpes may take the tablets everyday for one year. This approach is called “herpes suppressive therapy”. This approach can prevent recurrence of outbreaks, and also reduce the chance of transmission of herpes virus. Decision to start suppressive therapy should be made by the doctor.
Advice on care for sores of genital herpes:
- Avoid wearing tight underwear, or jeans
- Wear underwear of cotton material
- You can clean the area of the sores by gentle use of soap and water
- Warm bath may relieve the pain
What are the complications of untreated herpes?
Episodes of genital herpes mostly end on their own. Early treatment will shorten the duration of herpes episodes. Catching herpes infection during pregnancy can lead to transmission to baby. Genital herpes increases the risk of acquiring HIV infection if sexually exposed.
You can help protect yourself from STI by using condoms every time you have sex.