Genital Herpes

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The herpes virus enters the body through direct contact with herpes sores. This can happen during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You even can re-infect yourself if you touch a sore and then rub or scratch another part of your body, especially your eyes.

What Causes Herpes?

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV, HSV-1, and HSV-2. HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes, while HSV-1 usually causes sores to appear around the eyes, lips, and mouth. However, HSV-2 is becoming a more common cause of genital herpes, especially in younger women.

What Are The Symptoms of Herpes?

Many people infected with herpes have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, it’s usually 2 to 10 days after you’ve been infected. Symptoms often include clusters of sores that appear as small, fluid-filled blisters on the genitals, buttocks, or other areas. This is usually referred to as an outbreak.

A stinging or burning feeling when you urinate also is common. You may even feel like you have the flu, with swollen glands, fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and nausea.

How is Herpes Diagnosed?

To get a definite diagnosis, you will need to have laboratory tests done. If there are herpes sores present at the time of the test, your health care provider will take a sample of fluid from them. If there are no sores, a blood test can be taken to test for antibodies that the body produces to fight the virus. These tests can determine which kind of HSV is present if any.

How Do You Treat Herpes?

While there is no cure for herpes, there are forms of treatment. Taking an oral medication during an outbreak can help control the length and severity of the outbreak. Medication taken on a daily basis can suppress outbreaks, sometimes for a long time. Taking medication on a daily basis can also help to reduce the risk of spreading herpes to others.

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Passing Herpes?

If you’ve been diagnosed with herpes and are worried about having sexual partners, there are a few things to note:

  • Even if there are no sores present, you can still pass herpes to a partner
  • Using male latex condoms can help reduce the risk of the virus being passed, but it doesn’t provide total protection
  • Suppressive therapy (taking medication daily) can reduce your risk of spreading the virus
  • Be aware of the symptoms and avoid sexual contact when you notice them coming on
  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with sores, as this may help cut down on the spreading of the virus

Herpes and Pregnancy

For women who have herpes and are pregnant, there is a chance of passing on the virus to the baby. Women who are infected with genital herpes for the first time in late pregnancy have a high risk (30 – 60%) of infecting the baby because they have not yet made antibodies against the virus. This most often happens when newborns pass through the mother’s infected birth canal.

If you are experiencing an outbreak at the time of your delivery, you may need a C-Section. However, the process is different for every woman, and you should speak with your physician to find out what’s best for you.


If you have questions about genital herpes or suspect you may be experiencing symptoms, please contact us. We are glad to provide information and answer any and all questions you may have. Additionally, you can take a look at the links to other resources

Other Resources


Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): A disease that is spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).