Womens Health

The Link Between Genital Herpes And Stress


Genital herpes is a highly contagious STD which causes symptoms including pain, itching and sores in the genital area. There is no cure for genital herpes and it can reoccur many times causing a lot of stress and embarrassment.

What Causes Genital Herpes?

There are two types of herpes simplex virus that can cause genital herpes. The HSV type 1 usually causes cold sores and blisters around the mouth area but can be spread to the genital area through oral sex. The HSV type 2 virus is the more common cause of genital herpes and it spreads through skin to skin contact. It's very common and highly contagious.

What Triggers An Outbreak?

The first episode of genital herpes usually occurs two to twelve days after sexual contact with a person who is actively infected. It is not yet fully known why the virus is reactivated; however there are some causal factors that are associated with recurrence.

Physical - these symptoms can include being run down and having a low immune system. Skin damage, exposure to strong sunlight and drinking a lot of alcohol have also been identified as triggers.

Psychological - studies have shown that prolonged periods of stress can cause frequent recurrences. It can be a hard cycle to break as episodes of genital herpes can themselves cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

What Affect Does Stress Have On Herpes?

Stress plays a big role in health. It can put the body under a lot of strain and make it more susceptible to illness. There is a causal link that the more stress you have, the more often you are likely to suffer genital herpes outbreaks. The causal factors can be physical such as an episode of the flu, or emotional stress such as exams or job worries.

Suggestions For Coping With Stress

Counseling - many people are shocked or depressed by their herpes diagnosis. It's important that sufferers understand the implications for the future. Counseling can be an effective way of communicating about concerns and emotions.

Support groups - there are now many support groups for herpes sufferers. They can provide support and education and help people to feel less isolated.

Stress management - keeping a diary can help highlight patterns that surround herpes outbreaks. It is then possible to avoid or minimize these triggers in the future. Courses are available to learn stress management techniques that can then be applied to every day life.

Exercise - physical activity has been scientifically proven to be a good stress reliever. Activities should be fun and outdoors where possible to maximize the benefits.

Diet - the aim is to keep the body's immune system functioning well. A well balanced diet should include fruit and vegetables and limit the intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol.


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