How Do I Know if I Have Herpes?

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Herpes is the name of a group of viruses that cause painful blisters and sores. One kind of herpes (herpes simplex virus or HSV) causes both cold sores around the mouth and genital herpes. Genital herpes is spread easily, infecting a person by entering your body through a break in your skin or through the skin of your mouth, penis or vagina, urinary tract opening, cervix or anus. While herpes is readily spread when blisters or sores are present on an infected person, it can be spread at any time, even when a person isn’t experiencing any symptoms.

In the United States, 16.2%, approximately 1 in 6, people between the ages of 14 to 49 years are diagnosed with genital herpes. Since herpes has such a high prevalence, it is important to ask yourself after practicing unsafe sex (without a condom), “Do I have herpes?” or “How do I know if I have herpes?”

What are the symptoms of herpes?

Most people infected with genital herpes are unaware of their infection. However, the signs and symptoms of a first herpes outbreak usually occur within the first 2 weeks after the virus is transmitted. While these symptoms can be quite pronounced, it is important to note that the majority of individuals with herpes never have sores, or have very mild signs that go unnoticed or are mistaken for an insect bite or another skin condition.

Following the initial outbreak the sores typically heal within two to four weeks. Other herpes-related symptoms during the primary episode may include: a second group of sores, as well as, flu-like symptoms, such as fever and swollen glands.

Following the first onset of a genital herpes episode, it can be expected that you may have several (typically four or five) other outbreaks or symptomatic recurrences within a year. However, over time the incidence of recurrence usually decrease. In addition, it is possible that you only become aware of your “first episode” years after the infection was acquired.

I am a woman and I think I might have herpes

If you are a woman, how can you tell whether or not you have genital herpes? It is important to note that genital herpes infection is more common in women (approximately 1 of 5 women between the ages of 14 to 49 years are diagnosed with herpes) than in men (about 1 of 9 men between the ages of 14 to 49 years). Moreover, it is more likely for an infected male to transmit herpes to his female partner than for an infected female to transmit to her male partner.

Many females are unaware of their herpes infection, with approximately 60% of all infected women not experiencing any herpes-related related symptoms. For the remainder of symptomatic females, many are unaware or are simply ignore symptoms because the symptoms resemble harmless pimple or acne starting to show on their skin. On average, the herpes first presents within 3 weeks of infection. However, some women may experience symptoms much earlier or later. Your doctor will first diagnosis you with herpes if you present with a growth of pimple-like or wart-like boils, that are not only confined to the proximity of the vagina. Other than your vagina, areas such as your buttocks, thighs, as well as, your uterus can become infected. You will probably also feel stabbing hot pain on the touch of the affected area. Other common symptoms include: burning sensations when urinating, pain in the muscles, headache or lower back pain.

I am a man and I think I might have herpes

The symptoms of male herpes present themselves slightly different than female herpes. This is mainly because of they way the genitalia is laid out (i.e. female infections occur internally, within the vagina, while male infections are external). Since women are more likely to become infected by herpes, men can be considered slightly luckier than women. However, there are enough men who suffer from herpes to consider male herpes as a major issue. A herpes infection normally appears as blisters around the genital region and causes breaks leaving sores. Sores can develop on your penis, scrotum as well as, around your anus or inside your urethra. Symptoms can take a few weeks to subdue and they can cause a lot of pain while having sex. While, the infection also stays in the body for a prolonged period of time, the outbreaks gradually tend to decrease over time.

Many of the people with herpes are unaware of their condition. It may be that you never even exhibit signs of the disease. If you do experience symptoms, the first outbreak, usually within two weeks after becoming infected, is generally worst than any reoccurring outbreaks. Following the recovery from your sores, you may develop another crop of sores as well as, flu-like symptoms, such as a fever and muscle aches. Other symptoms that may present include: developing itching or pain of your genital region, inner thighs or buttocks. Moreover, urination and intercourse can become extremely painful and uncomfortable.


Centre for Disease Control and Prevention -

Female Symptoms Herpes -