Genital Herpes: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that causes herpetic sores, which are painful fluid-filled bumps that can break open and discharge fluid.

READ ALSO: Genital Warts: Symptoms, Causes, Risk factors and Treatment

Causes of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 which usually causes cold sores, and HSV-2 which usually causes genital herpes.

These viruses can be found in your nose, mouth, and genitals. The viruses gain access to your body through your mucous membranes (thin layers of tissue that line the openings of your body). Once the viruses are inside your body, they combine with your cells and then stay in the nerve cells of your pelvis. It can be very difficult to treat viruses because they tend to easily multiply or adapt to their environments.

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HSV-1 or HSV-2 can be found in the bodily fluids of infected persons. Such bodily fluids may include semen, saliva, and vaginal secretions.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

The appearance of blisters will appear as early as two days after you contracted the virus, or as late as 30 days afterward.

Symptoms for males include blisters on the penis, scrotum, or buttocks.

General symptoms for females include blisters around or near the vagina, anus, and buttocks.

General symptoms for both males and females include:

  • Itching or tingling of the infected site before the actual appearance of blisters.
  • Blisters may appear in your mouth and on your lips, face, and anywhere else that came into contact with the infected areas.
  • The blisters may become open sores and ooze fluid.
  • A crust may appear over the sores within a week of the outbreak.
  • Your lymph glands may become swollen. Lymph glands fight infection and inflammation in the body.
  • Accompanying symptoms may include body aches, headaches, and fever.

READ ALSO: All to Know About Female Genital Sores

Babies who are born with genital herpes can develop very severe complications. General symptoms may include:

  • ulcers on the face, body, and genitals
  • blindness
  • brain damage
  • death

Consult your doctor if you have genital herpes and you’re pregnant. They will take precautions to prevent the virus from being transmitted to your baby during delivery.


Genital herpes can be diagnosed by a visual examination of the herpes sores. Although they aren’t always necessary, your doctor may confirm their diagnosis through laboratory tests. A blood test can diagnose herpes simplex virus before you experience an outbreak.

Treating Genital Herpes

There is no cure for herpes simplex virus. However, treatment can reduce the outbreaks.


Antiviral drugs may help speed up the healing time of your sores and reduce pain. Medications may be taken at the first signs of an outbreak to reduce the symptoms. People who get outbreaks may also be prescribed medicines to make it less likely that they’ll get outbreaks in the future.

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Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.


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