Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 22, 2011

What are herpes symptoms?

I’m kind of worried about some spots on my penis. What would I see if I had herpes? What are herpes symptoms?

answered by
Lisa Oldson, MD on November 22, 2011

I’m glad you’re taking the time to monitor your body for symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like herpes. I’m happy to give you a little information that might help.

But one thing to keep in mind is that a number of skin conditions (not just herpes) can cause spots on or near the genitals. That means it’s a good idea for you to visit a doctor to get an exam and get a clear picture of what’s causing your condition.  

However, because you asked specifically about herpes symptoms...

What are herpes symptoms? First, most people who have herpes don’t actually have any signs or symptoms of infection. But for those who do, it’s common to feel discomfort, tingling or itching in the genital area...in addition to seeing small blisters or red painful sores on the genitals.

Some other signs of infection include flu-like symptoms (muscle aches, headache or fever), discomfort with urination and swollen lymph glands. Women may also notice abnormal vaginal discharge.

If you think you might have herpes, I encourage you to get tested. As I mentioned before, it’s best to visit your doctor about current sores. But if the sores have healed, we offer the Herpes Simplex Virus Type-Specific HSV-1/2 IgG blood test. By detecting herpes antibodies, this test can tell you if you have a herpes infection and what type of herpes simplex you have (HSV-1 or HSV-2), if any. And if it turns out that you’re infected, one of our doctors will chat with you about next steps and treatment (a doctor consultation is included in the price of the test).

For more information about our herpes test, or to find additional information about herpes symptoms, turn to our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.

Thanks for your question and I wish you the best of health.

Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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