Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the virus herpes simplex. Herpes symptoms? You do not necessarily experience symptoms, but the virus can still be passed on. Common symptoms are, for example, a burning or painful sensation, pain when urinating, itching and irritation, red spots or blisters on places that are difficult to see, such as the cervix or around the anus.
Do you recognise these symptoms? Then it's time for a herpes home test.
• Most people have no symptoms when they catch the virus.
• The sores are often very painful. They open and usually heal within 1 to 4 weeks without scarring.
• In women, the blisters also occur on the vulva, cervix, vagina and in or around the anus. In men, they are on the outside of the penis and in or around the anus.
• Men and women can have complaints of pain and a burning sensation when urinating. Women can also experience itching and secretion from the vagina and swollen glands in the groin area. Vesicles filled with clear fluid form on the skin and mucous membranes.
• Some feel ill and have a fever and muscle aches.
• If you do get symptoms, it’s usually within a week after infection and sometimes as soon as after two days.
How do I get herpes? The herpes virus is found in the vesicles. Through unprotected sexual contact, the virus comes into contact with the vagina, penis and anus lips. The virus can also be transmitted by hand or fingers. If someone touches a penis or vagina with the virus on it and then rubs his or her eyes, there is a possibility that the virus causes an eye infection.
The risk of infection is greatest when the vesicles open. You can also be infected when an infected person has no vesicles.
The vesicles of a cold sore also contain the herpes simplex virus. That’s why oral sex with someone with a cold sore can also cause a herpes infection of the vagina or penis.
The first period of symptoms and complaints of herpes
Do I have herpes?In the beginning you'll generally have a slight fever, feel unwell and experience itchy and/or painful stabs. Groups of painful vesicles will gather around your anus and/or genitals. The vesicles develop over 10 to 14 days into groups of sores. The fever and pain are accompanied by swollen glands in the groin and often pain when urinating. Women can sometimes also develop secretions from the vagina. The vesicles and sores dry after about 10 to 14 days and often heal without scarring.
These symptoms will possibly only consist of a slight irritation of the skin or a small area that is rough to the touch, with only one or two vesicles. Sometimes the symptoms are only visible for a few days.
Is it normal if there are no symptoms of herpes?
In 4 out of 5 people with herpes simplex virus symptoms of genital herpes will never occur. This does not mean that the virus has left the body. It lies dormant in a branch of a nerve that leads to the genitals, but does not cause symptoms in the carrier. The virus can be transmitted to another person through intercourse and become active in the other person within a certain period of time, causing the mentioned complaints.