Genital Herpes: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are over 570,000 new cases of genital herpes each year in the US. While there is no cure for genital herpes, there are ways to prevent the spread. Realizing you have genital herpes may make you feel ashamed, but you shouldn’t.

We want you to feel safe in understanding and treating this sexually transmitted infection. We will go over what causes genital herpes and what the symptoms are. We will also help you through the diagnosis process and treatment options.

Read on to learn more about a genital herpes diagnosis.

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes (or Herpes simplex virus type 2, HSV-2) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is contagious. This infection causes painful blisters on the genitals. These symptoms can clear up and return later.

HSV-1 is the virus that causes cold sores around the mouth. It can be transferred to the genitals through oral sex. It is often spread through saliva when kissing someone with open sores.

HSV-2 is a common virus found in about 13% of the world’s population. HSV-1 is found in around 67% of people around the globe.


HSV-1 and HSV-2 enter the body through mucous membranes and broken skin. Once the virus has entered your body, it mixes with your cells.

HSV spreads via vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone infected with the virus. You can also get HSV from close contact with someone who has open sores. It is also transferred in bodily fluids.


Many people infected with HSV don’t know they have it. Signs and symptoms may not be present or may be mild. If you have symptoms they will appear 2-12 weeks after exposure.

Common genital herpes symptoms include:

  • Pain or itching in the genital area
  • Small red bumps or white blisters
  • Ulcers from ruptured blisters
  • Scabs can form as the ulcers heal
  • Blisters around the mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches, body aches, or fever
  • Diagnosis

You should talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you have genital herpes. Your doctor will be able to give you a genital herpes diagnosis by looking at or testing the sores if they are there. If not, they can take a blood test for diagnosis.

There are even options to get tested right from your own home. Swell Clinic will set up a virtual consultation with a licensed medical provider. They will work with you on the best plan of care for your situation.


There is no cure for genital herpes, but there are treatment options for those who have this STI. Suppression therapy uses antiviral medications to speed up the healing time of an outbreak. You should take these at the first signs of a herpes outbreak.

Other ways to ease outbreaks from home are to keep the affected area clean and dry. Use warm water and mild cleansers during an outbreak. You can also take anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve pain.

Book an Appointment Today

If you are presenting with symptoms of genital herpes, don’t wait to make an appointment. The sooner you get treatment, the less likely you are to spread this virus to others.

Book a virtual appointment with us today to discuss your symptoms and treatment for genital herpes.