Genital herpes

Page last reviewed 8.5.2023

Herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by Herpes simplex-virus. Genital herpes can be caused by type 1 or 2 virus and the same viruses can also cause blisters in lips and mouth.

Genital herpes is transmitted through vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex or by contaminated hands to genitals or anus. Genital herpes is most transmittable when visible blisters are present, but transmission in the symptomless phase of the infection is also possible.

What are the symptoms of genital herpes?

  • The first signs of infection appear 4-7 days after exposure to the virus. Symptoms include pain, itching or tingling of the infected area and pain while urinating or difficulty to urinate. There can be redness, blisters or sores in the area of infection. Infection of cervix or anal canal can also be symptoms of first phase of infection.
  • Symptoms can also include fever, headache, nausea and enlarged lymph nodes in groin area. Blisters can appear in buttocks or anal area. The first symptoms will relieve without treatment in 2-3 weeks.
  • Recurring symptoms include tingling and itching of the infected area, blisters and sores. Recurring symptoms usually relieve in a week without treatment.

When and how should I get tested?

  • Herpes is diagnosed by a sample from herpes blister. A blood sample can be used to determine if a person is a carrier of herpes virus, but can’t determine if the infection is in an active phase.

How is it treated?

  • Herpes symptoms can be treated with antiviral medicine, but there is no known cure to remove the virus from the body.
  • Antiviral medicine can also be used to prevent the symptomatic phases of the infection and reduce the transmission of the virus.