What to do
At your sexual health (GUM) clinic, a doctor or nurse will take a sample from any visible sores using a cotton wool or spongy swab.
If the doctor or nurse thinks you may have herpes, you may be given tablets to reduce the severity of the infection straight away, as these are only effective within 72 hours of the start of symptoms.
A doctor, nurse or health adviser will tell you about what you can do to feel better and how to avoid passing the virus on to others.
Signs and Symptoms
What to look out for
Both men and women suffer the same symptoms
- Itching or tingling sensation in the genital or anal area.
- Small fluid-filled blisters.
- Pain when peeing, if pee comes into contact with any of the open sores.
- A flu-like illness, backache, headache, swollen glands or fever.
Long term effects
Herpes does not affect a woman's ability to become pregnant, but if you get infected or have a herpes episode in the first three months of pregnancy there is a small risk of miscarriage.
You should tell your midwife you have had genital herpes so they will be aware of and can help you with any potential problems through your pregnancy and birth. Also, if you get a herpes episode towards the end of pregnancy it can cause the baby to be born early and may mean that it is necessary to give birth by Caesarean section. However, most women with genital herpes have an entirely normal pregnancy and a normal delivery.
It is very unusual for babies to be infected with herpes.
Genital herpes is caused by a virus - similar to the one that gives you cold sores around your lips.
The difference is that genital herpes causes painful sores on and around your genitals.
There is no known cure. However, if you think you have caught genital herpes you should go to your local sexual health (GUM) clinic straight away, as there are tablets you can take to help reduce the infection, but they must be taken within 72 hours of the start of any symptoms.
You can get genital herpes in the following ways:
- Kissing (mouth to mouth)
- Penetrative sex (when the penis enters the vagina or anus)
- Oral sex (from mouth to the genitals or genitals to the mouth)