Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 19, 2011

Are red bumps and vaginal dryness symptoms of herpes?

I have occasional vaginal dryness, red painful bumps and a white watery discharge after sex, but I don’t have any burning with urination. Are these symptoms of herpes? 

answered by
Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP on September 19, 2011

Good question. It sounds like you have some symptoms that resemble herpes and some that don’t. I’ll do my best to provide you some thoughts for your consideration, although I can’t diagnose your symptoms without an examination. 

First, signs of herpes are unlikely to show up every time after you have sex. That said, red, painful bumps can be a symptom of herpes, and a white watery discharge could be, too. But vaginal dryness is not a symptom of herpes...and it’s possible that the white watery discharge you see after sex could be semen or some of your own normal vaginal secretions or lubrication. 

So, to get a definitive diagnosis of your symptoms, I encourage you to see your regular doctor for a full examination. From what you describe, it’s more likely that you have a condition other than herpes...but your doctor can best determine that when you are examined.

About herpes testing...your doctor can take a sample from the red bumps you describe. This is a good testing option if you visit your doctor within a day or two of noticing the bumps, before they subside or heal. 

Another option is to take a “type-specific” blood test (e.g., HSV 1/2 IgG) that looks for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies in your body. This test is your most reliable option if your sores have already healed and if your body has had enough time to create antibodies to the virus (for most people, that’s about six weeks after your possible exposure to herpes). You can learn more about herpes symptoms and testing in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2

I hope this information is helpful to you, and that you’ll soon resolve your discomfort with the help of your doctor.

Related info:

Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP

Warren is a Nurse Practitioner and owner of Westover Heights Clinic in Oregon. She is a renown expert and author in the field of genital herpes research, diagnosis and treatment. Warren was educated at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the University of Portland.

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