The following are some symptoms you may be concerned about. Feel free to discuss these with your doctor - you may be advised to undergo some tests to determine their cause, so that they can be treated.

This condition may be due to Genital Herpes, which is caused by HSV Type 1 or 2 (Herpes Simplex Virus), and in women it can affect the vulva and around the anus (back passage). Painful spots usually turn into blisters and then ulcers (open sores), the whole process lasting from 5 up to 14 days.

Genital herpes can be transmitted sexually, and so there is a chance that you may have caught this infection from a recent partner (if it is your first outbreak of sores).

An examination and tests will be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatments for genital herpes

Fortunately there are effective treatments for attacks that will shorten the period of sores and discomfort. You may be prescribed a short course of antiviral tablets (such as aciclovir), for example.

However, genital herpes may recur in the future, as HSV can lay dormant (inactive) for many years in the nerves close to the spinal cord at the base of your backbone. So you will be given comprehensive information regarding managing any future episodes, and strategies for reducing their frequency.

Does having herpes affect pregnancy?

There are some issues of great concern to women given a diagnosis of genital herpes, particularly about whether it affects their ability to conceive and give birth to a healthy baby. Although modern treatments make it very likely that all will proceed normally at conception and delivery, you should discuss your own particular situation with your doctor.

The most common, but important, cause for these is genital warts (caused by HPV, the Human Papillomavirus) which is one of the most frequently diagnosed sexual infections in the UK. These small, painless lumps tend not to disappear with time, but may grow in size and number. Although often soft and pink, they may be firm or darkly pigmented in many women.

Treatment of genital or anal warts is often possible by way of a cream or paint, or by the doctor performing cryotherapy, in the form of a very cold spray (which freezes the warts). However, there are many harmless causes of lumps around the genital area, and an examination may allow us to reassure you that no treatment is needed, and that you have nothing infectious.

The delicate skin around your vagina (the vulva) is quite sensitive to dryness and friction. So if you use too harsh a shower gel, or are frequently rubbing this area, the skin becomes dry, flaky and even inflamed. The resulting rash is called eczema, and is itchy, red and often sore—it is sometimes known as dermatitis.

Treatment will include a discussion with you about more suitable agents to use in the shower or bath, ways to prevent irritation of the area, and possible prescription of a cortisone-based cream to use for up to a month or more.

This rash is not easy for a patient to diagnose for herself, however, and there are many similar, but important, conditions that it can resemble. For example, the rashes of psoriasis, contact dermatitis and fungal infection have different causes and so need specific management. Consequently a careful examination by your doctor will be needed so that the correct diagnosis can be made, and the best treatment prescribed.

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