Genital Herpes- A sexually transmitted Infection

Genital Herpes- A sexually transmitted Infection
Published : Feb 04, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection(STI) that leads to herpetic sores in people. These are painful blisters that appear as fluid-filled bumps over the genital area. Most people around the globe get a form of the herpes simplex virus(HSV). It causes Genital Herpes; usually, there are two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV does not always cause symptoms, but you should get tested if you experience itching, swelling, or painful blisters.

Causes of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is generally caused due to two types of Herpes simplex virus(HSV).

HSV-1 This type of HSV causes cold sores but can also cause genital herpes. HSV-2 This type of HSV usually leads the causing of genital herpes, but it can also cause cold sores.

The herpes simplex virus enters the body through skin abrasions or the mucous membranes. Mucous membranes are the thin, delicate tissue layers covering your body's openings. E.g., areas like the nose, mouth, and genitals.

Once viruses enter your body, they begin to attach themselves to cells. This way, the virus easily adapts to this new environment and multiplies. It gets stronger with time, And in the coming time, its treatment becomes even more difficult.

HSV-1 or HSV-2 can be found in bodily fluids through:

  • Saliva
  • vaginal discharge
  • Semen

Early symptoms of Genital herpes

The early symptoms you may get due to genital herpes can be the inflammation of the skin on your genital area. Or experiencing discomfort with the itching or burning sensation in the area. These symptoms may appear within 1-2 weeks after being infected by Herpes simplex virus. During herpes, blisters and ulcers can develop in the area. When these symptoms subside, the developed ulcers form scabs and gradually disappear.

These are the symptoms that may typically appear in the early stages of Genital herpes:

  • Pain during urination
  • Burning or itching sensation in the genital region
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Blisters
  • Feeling nauseous and sick
  • Muscle aches and pain

However, the incubation period of genital herpes can vary from person to person. Some people even do not experience the first herpes outbreak until a few months or sometimes even a year after being infected.

When the first outbreak occurs, it may last for several weeks in some people. Once the symptoms of genital herpes get subsided, the virus becomes dormant again until something triggers a new breakout. The recurrent outbreaks are less severe and pass more quickly than earlier ones. Usually, patients learn to recognize the early signs of herpes episodes while considering this infection. It helps them to know when to begin the antiviral treatment promptly.

Where may you develop herpes sores on your body?

The symptoms of genital herpes may appear the same in both men and women. This virus affects the private parts and does not look different in men and women.

In men, genital herpes may appear inside or on the following regions:

  • Penis
  • Groin and thighs
  • Around the anus
  • Buttocks
  • Scrotum

In women, genital herpes may appear in the following areas:

  • Inside the vagina
  • Labia
  • Groin, thighs
  • Around the anus
  • On the buttocks

During genital herpes, female patients feel pain while peeing and may have unusual vaginal discharge. The blisters formed inside the vagina due to the infection may take up to three or more weeks to heal completely. Also, females can have inflammation of the cervix(the neck of the womb) due to genital herpes. And, if you get infected by HSV late stage during pregnancy, you must consult a doctor.

Not only through vaginal and anal intercourse, but HSV can also get Into the body through the mouth, tongue, lips, and other body parts. However, it's rare and mainly occurs when the blister is present during intercourse.

When to see a doctor for Genital herpes:

If you experience uncomfortable symptoms of genital herpes, it is important to consult with a doctor. They can diagnose and help you by suggesting possible infection management treatments.

If exposed to HSV or thinking of getting a full STI exam and testing due to symptoms, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor. But if it's not possible for you to take an in-person appointment, you can choose another option, like an at-home test kit. But, it is important to note that the in-person test is more accurate than self-testing at home. So, better you visit a doctor and discuss your condition to get suitable treatment.

Diagnosing Genital herpes

A doctor can diagnose Genital herpes with the help of a visual examination of the herpes sores. Also, a doctor can confirm the diagnosis through laboratory tests with the help of blood tests. Through a blood test, HSV can be diagnosed before an outbreak occurs.

But, if there is no exposure and you do not have any symptoms that indicate HSV, Then you don't need to get screened for HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Treatment for Genital Herpes:

Getting treatment for Genital Herpes can reduce the outbreaks. Although there is no cure for herpes, by taking antiviral medication, you can reduce the severity and provide you relief from the pain and discomfort.


Antiviral drugs can help speed up the healing process of the sores and reduce the pain. Treatment from medications can be taken at the first signs of an outbreak. Also, a doctor may suggest these medications to make it less likely that future outbreaks will occur.

These are some medications generally prescribed by a doctor for Genital Herpes:

Acyclovir (Zovirax)

Famciclovir (Famvir)

Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Docosanol (Abreva)

Denavir (Penciclovir)

Home remedies

Following home care may help to reduce the discomfort and get relief from the pain drug Genital Herpes.

  • Keep the infected area clean and use mild cleansers while bathing. Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to reduce the pain and soothe your skin with it gently.
  • Keep the affected area clean and dry after peeing.
  • Do not wear tight clothing as it may irritate the blisters and sores. You can wear loose cotton clothing to comfort the affected area.
  • Drink plenty of fluid; it will help dilute your urine and make passing urine less painful during Genital herpes.

Prevention for Genital Herpes

To prevent HSV, avoid sexual and oral contact with someone currently having a herpes outbreak. Also, it is important to note that herpes can be transmittable, even dormant. The risk during the latent period is less but not zero; it can still be infectious.

Barrier methods can help you reduce the risk of transmitting an STI. But still, there can be chances of getting herpes during sexual contact if your partner suffers from it.

And, If you develop herpes, you can follow the below-given precautions to ensure you do not transmit it to others.

Use barriers such as condoms and dental dams during sexual intercourse.

During a herpes outbreak, do not make any kind of sexual contact with any other person.

If you develop herpes, you must inform your sexual partner about it.

Inform your doctor if you are pregnant and develop herpes. The virus can spread to the infant during vagina delivery, and herpes can be dangerous for the newborn baby.

Related Article - What is the dosage of Valacyclovir for Cold Sores and Genital Herpes?