Lesions of the genital region can be caused by either Type 2 or Type 1 Herpes simplex virus. The strain of the virus most dominant is Type 2. The sores begin two to twelve days after exposure to someone who has active lesions.
A number of symptoms are common to the disease in both sexes. I shall describe those ﬁrst and then discuss the particular problems of women. Finally I shall take up the disease as it relates to men, and then to homosexuals.
Symptoms which are seen in both male and female herpetic involvement include enlargement of‘ the lymph glands, fever, and headache. The lymphatic system is one of our vital defenses. Whenever the human body is invaded by an extrinsic substance like a toxin or a virus, the system carries the oﬂender to a place where there is an excellent blood supply. Lymph nodes are such sites and are located in many places throughout the body.
Because of the plentiful blood supply in the nodes, the protective elements of the system can defend against the invaders. It is like some old Western movie scouts leading the band of black-hatted villains into an ambush where there are many good white-hatted cowboys who can do battle and win! However, during the skirmish there are losses on both sides.
This scenario holds when the body’s defenses do battle with the Herpes virus. During the ﬁght, good blood cells are destroyed by the invaders. If our defenses are‘ strong, more of the attackers are eliminated than the’ cells of our bloodstream, and our system improves until we are cured. However, if our system is weakened, the invaders will destroy the defensive cells and we become more ill.
The lymph glands are usually not palpable (they cannot ordinarily be felt) but during the conﬂict with the disease elements these glands have the task of localizing the attack and cleaning up any debris left from the battling of the cells. In this event the glands can easily be detected by pressing the ﬁngers gently against the area where they are located. We have all felt such enlarged glands while feeling the area of our neck below the car when we have had a sore throat. In addition, there are many other clusters of nodes: under the jaw, at the nape of the neck, behind the ears, in the axillae (the arm pits), and in the groin. Many other nodes are not palpable and are located along the course of the intestine and other inaccessible places.
The lymph glands swell in the area close to the site of the infection: in the neck area in cases of severe fever blisters, and in the groin in the cases of genital Herpes. There may be several groups of glands that are enlarged. When the glands are swollen, there is a mild pain or soreness that accompanies pressure on the area. Many patients will not notice the sensitivity until the glands are touched. The swelling. lasts during the entire period of the active infection and may remain for some time afterward.
Fever is another common symptom. A temperature elevation of 99.8° to 100.5° is not uncommon. Higher temperatures are not usual unless the patient has a constant current bacterial infection. The fever ordinarily lasts during the ﬁrst ﬁve or six days of the attack and then returns to normal.