Diagnosing Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes Treatment »

Genital herpes can be diagnosed in a number of facilities, as it is quite an easy test that can be performed in order to determine the presence of the virus. You can go to a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic who specialise in this area and will know exactly what to do. You can also visit sexual health clinics or drop in centres in your local area. It is also possible to visit your GP although they may refer you to a GUM clinic for treatment.

How do you know you are infected?

There is no way to be certain that you are infected with genital herpes unless you get yourself diagnosed. There is chance that you have genital herpes if you are displaying the symptoms or your partner is displaying them, if you sex without a condom, if your partner has been diagnosed with the infection, if your partner has had sex without protection, or if you have another sexually transmitted infection. If any of these factors seem familiar, you should get yourself checked out at a GUM clinic, sexual health clinic or by your local GP.


As with many infections, physical examination is key to diagnosing the infection so you will need to undergo one of these in order for the doctor to reach a conclusion. It is a lot easier to diagnose if you are actually experiencing an outbreak, as the blisters will be present.  The doctor will also ask about your symptoms, your recent sexual history, your STI history and whether you know if this is your first outbreak.

A swab test

The most common test that is carried out to diagnose genital herpes is a swab test. This is a short stick with a cotton bud on the end, which is used to collect a sample of fluid in order to determine if the herpes simplex virus is present. The swab is taken from fluid and they may need to gently burst one of your blisters in order to obtain a sample. They can then culture the sample and in 3 days they will usually be able to tell you if the virus is present.

A blood test

Sometimes a blood test it carried out in order to look for antibodies in your blood that have been made due to contact with the virus. Blood tests are not always carried out, as a swab test will suffice. Even if the blood test comes back negative, it may not necessarily mean that the virus isn’t present, it may be that your immune system hasn’t created antibodies to tackle the infection yet.

A PCR test

A final test that may be carried out is done after a sample has been obtained. It is where a machine carries out a test called PCR, which amplifies any DNA in the sample, and from this you can detect whether the DNA of the virus is present. This test is more complicated than a swab or a blood test and will be carried out if the clinic has the right technology to do so.

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