Last summer, an ICN member asked a question that we hadn’t heard before. Can an outbreak of genital herpes (HSV-2) trigger an IC flare? In her case, it did. We launched an informal survey in the ICN Survey Center which revealed that she is not alone. A total of 42 patients diagnosed with both conditions participated in the study. Seventy five percent of reported that they suffered from more intense IC flares during a herpes outbreak. 84% reported bladder pain. 81% reported bladder pressure. 70% reported frequency and 67% reported urgency.

The location of the herpes outbreak was critical with several patients reporting that an outbreak nearer the urethra caused more urethral burning and burning during urination and pain.

One patient reported that her very first IC flare occurred during a bad herpes outbreak when she could not get a hold of her doctor for her normal antiviral medications. She said “I believe the outbreak is internal near bladder. I get the same herpes symptoms at the beginning. Little urine expelled, headache, pressure. I even mentioned it to my GYN. I am so grateful you’re doing this survey. I totally believe there is a connection.”

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in five women and one in nine men in the USA have genital herpes (HSV-2), an estimated 45 million people and many don’t know that they are infected.

If you experience the outbreak of any painful, crusted sores or blisters in your genital, buttocks or rectal areas, you should ask your doctor about HSV-2. Using an antiviral medication may help.

More importantly, if you do have HSV-2 you’ll need to educate yourself about how to prevent its transmission to others. There’s no shame nor blame in having this infection. Most patients become infected through no fault of their own, from someone else who didn’t know that they were infected. It’s widespread and now fairly common.

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