Symptoms of Genital Herpes


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The symptoms of genital herpes vary from person to person and also vary depending on whether this is your first outbreak of the condition. Generally, if it is your first outbreak, then it is the most severe that you will experience. Other outbreaks that follow will be less severe and painful. The symptoms also vary depending on whether you are male or female. For some people, they do not experience any symptoms even though they have contracted the virus. Blisters may never appear and if they do they might be mistaken for another condition.

A primary infection

The first time you have an outbreak caused by the herpes simplex virus, it is called a primary infection. The outbreak will usually occur within two weeks of contracting the virus and it can be quite severe. There are a number of symptoms that can arise which include:

  • Fluid filled blisters- these are around the infected area so on the penis, anus, vagina, cervix or in and around the mouth. They can also extend to the thighs. When they burst they turn into open sores, which are quite painful. It takes approximately 1-2 weeks for these to heal.
  • A red patch may appear on the genitalia just before an outbreak and can be irritating.
  • Pain when urinating- this is due to the urine hitting the blisters and causing pain.
  • Fever
  • General feeling of illness
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Aches in the muscles around the infected area.

All the symptoms above cause great discomfort and pain, especially if you wear tight clothing during a blister outbreak. You are also highly contagious at this point of infection so it is best to refrain from any sexual activity to prevent you from passing on the infection to your partner.

Recurrent Infections

There is no way to cure genital herpes and the virus will cause several more outbreaks after your primary infection. These may be painful but they wont usually be as severe as your first outbreak due to the fact that your body has started to build up immunity against the virus. The number of recurrent outbreaks varies depending on the person as you may never have another outbreak or on the other hand, it may feel like you never get a break from outbreaks. These outbreaks occur because the virus has travelled down your nerve and back onto the skin or mucous linings of your genital area. The symptoms are generally the same as the primary infection but on a smaller scale. They include:

  • Skin tingling and itching- This is usually a sign that the blisters are going to make a reappearance
  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • General illness

The recurrent outbreaks last for a shorter period of time, usually around ten days instead of a month. If you are infected by type 2 herpes simplex virus, then you are more likely to get recurring episodes than if it is type 1.


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