What is it?
Genital Herpes or Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is a highly contagious virus that causes painful blisters to appear on the genitals (penis or vagina) and the surrounding areas. The virus can be passed to the mouth, causing cold sores.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms appear four to seven days after you have been infected. The symptoms are a lot more severe the first time they appear. They include:
- Painful red blisters that burst to leave open sores around your genitals, rectum (back passage), thighs and buttocks
- Blisters and ulcers on the cervix (lower part of the womb) in women
- Vaginal discharge in women
- Pain when you pee
- A high temperature (fever) of 38°C (100.4°F) or over
- A general feeling of being unwell, with aches and pains
These symptoms may last for up to 20 days. The sores will eventually scab and heal without leaving any scarring.
After these symptoms have ended the virus will remain in your body and may come back at any time. This is called a ‘recurrent outbreak’, which is usually shorter and less severe than the first time you had symptoms. Symptoms of a ‘recurrent outbreak’ include:
A tingling, burning or itching sensation around your genitals, and sometimes down your leg, before your blisters appear
Painful red blisters that soon burst to leave sores around your genitals, rectum (back passage), thighs and buttocks
Blisters and ulcers on the cervix (lower part of the womb) in women
How do I get tested?
Genital herpes can be diagnosed more easily and accurately when the symptoms first appear, so if you have symptoms or a ‘recurrent outbreak’ you should visit one of our centres across Walsall as soon as possible. A swab test will be taken from the fluid in the blisters for testing.
Is there any treatment?
Once diagnosed, you can get free treatment for genital herpes at any one of our centres across Walsall.
How can I prevent it?
Herpes blisters and sores are highly infectious and the virus can be passed on to others by skin contact. You should avoid kissing when you or your partner have cold sores around the mouth and avoid having vaginal, anal or oral sex when you or your partner have mouth or genital sores. Using a condom may help to prevent spreading genital herpes, but the condom only covers the penis so there is still a risk of the virus spreading from the surrounding area.
If you would like to know more about genital herpes, visit the NHS Choices website.