WHAT IS GENITAL HERPES?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex. 

Even if symptoms clear up on their own or appear to get better, the virus remains in your body and can come back.

HOW IS GENITAL HERPES TRANSMITTED?

Genital herpes is very easy to pass on (contagious) from the first tingling or itching of a new outbreak (before any blisters appear) to when sores have fully healed. You may also be able to pass on the virus even if you do not have any symptoms.

You can get genital herpes:

  • from skin-to-skin contact with the infected area (including vaginal, anal and oral sex)

  • when there are no visible sores or blisters

  • if a cold sore touches your genitals

  • by transferring the infection on fingers from someone else to your genitals

  • by sharing sex toys with someone who has herpes

 

You cannot get genital herpes:

  • from objects such as cutlery or cups – the virus dies very quickly when away from your skin

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Symptoms of genital herpes are;

  • small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around your genitals, anus, thighs or bottom

  • tingling, burning or itching around your genitals

  • pain when you pee

  • in women, vaginal discharge that's not usual for you

 

Come to our drop in centre, even if you have not had sex for a long time, as blisters can take months or years to appear.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

You can only have a check-up for herpes when you have, or start to develop signs or symptoms. We may be able to diagnose genital herpes by looking at the affected area but they will need to confirm this by taking a swab of fluid from the blisters in the affected area. 

This involves: 

  • Brushing a swab (similar to a cotton bud) over the blisters 

  • It may sting a little but shouldn’t be painful

  • The swab will be sent to a lab for testing 

  • You will normally get your result within one to two weeks*

 

The test is FREE for anyone under the age of 25.

 

*If your test result is negative you will receive a text. If you are positive, you will be invited into the clinic to arrange your treatment.  

If for any reason, you do not hear from us 2 weeks after visiting the drop centre, then please get in touch with us. 

WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?

There's no cure. Symptoms clear up by themselves, but the blisters can come back (an outbreak or recurrence).

Treatment the first time you have genital herpes, we may be able to prescribe:

  • an antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse – you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing

  • cream for the pain

If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.

REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF CONTRACTING GENITAL HERPES

Genital herpes is very easy to pass on (contagious) from the first tingling or itching of a new outbreak (before any blisters appear) to when sores have fully healed. You may also be able to pass on the virus even if you do not have any symptoms.

You can get genital herpes:

  • from skin-to-skin contact with the infected area (including vaginal, anal and oral sex)

  • when there are no visible sores or blisters

  • if a cold sore touches your genitals

  • by transferring the infection on fingers from someone else to your genitals

  • by sharing sex toys with someone who has herpes

 

You cannot get genital herpes:

  • from objects such as cutlery or cups – the virus dies very quickly when away from your skin

 

Protecting against genital herpes, you can reduce the chances of passing herpes on by:

  • using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex – but herpes can still be passed on if the condom does not cover the infected area

  • avoiding vaginal, anal or oral sex if you or your partner has blisters or sores, or a tingle or itch that means an outbreak is coming

  • not sharing sex toys – if you do, wash them and put a condom on them