How Genital Herpes Works

Herpes Simplex Virus 2 or genital herpes is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and works in a certain way in your body. Understanding how genital herpes works can help.

The herpes virus resides in your nerves, in the lower spinal cord area called the sacral ganglia, the spinal nerves. It has a dormant and an active stage. The dormant stage is when the virus is in lying dormant in your nerve cluster. The active stage is when the virus is activated (no one really know how or why it is activated) travels to the surface of the initially infected area. At the surface it begins to make copies of itself, usually on your skin, but it can show up on mucous membranes as well. At this point, any contact at all can make it spread. When it is done copying itself, it returns to the mass of nerve tissue, and lies dormant until the next time it is activated, and it will return to the surface.

Herpes Simplex Virus 2 is usually passed by vaginal and anal sex. It can also pass during oral sex. Fortunately, the herpes simplex virus cannot survive very long on objects. The claimed survival time on non-living surfaces varies between doctors. Therefore, contracting the virus from a toilet seat, for example, is fairly rare. The baby’s mother can also pass it to a newborn during birth, if the mother has the virus. If the mother is currently having an outbreak, or about to during birth, this increases the risk of the baby contracting genital herpes. If the virus infects the baby, the baby can suffer blindness, or other serious health problems. It’s important to consult a doctor if you have or think you may have this virus. They can help you reduce the risk for your baby.

Unfortunately, the herpes simplex virus is incurable. It can only be treated and controlled, but will never go away.

The virus that infects the cervix may have a connection with cervical cancer. The herpes simplex virus that infects the cervix could be dangerous, because the woman who has it will most likely never know unless she gets tested. She may not feel the outbreaks, and they are not readily visible.

It is also important to understand how genital herpes works, and shows up or does not. It can be dormant, not causing any symptoms, and it can cause oral or genital infections, and can cause visible, painful sores.