Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 10, 2011

What are the symptoms for herpes in men?

I’m not sure, but I think I could have herpes. What are the symptoms of herpes in men?

answered by
Lisa Oldson, MD on November 10, 2011

It’s great that you’re asking questions about herpes symptoms in men and I can help with some general answers.

But keep in mind that most people with herpes won’t have signs or symptoms to indicate infection. Because of this, I encourage you to get tested for herpes if you’re concerned you may have been infected. Getting tested is the only sure way to know if you have herpes or not.

That said, some people (probably between 10-20%) will experience herpes signs and symptoms that you may want to be aware of. Commonly these signs and symptoms occur most severely during the first herpes outbreak 2-4 weeks after contracting the virus.

Signs and symptoms for herpes in men can include…

  • Small blisters or painful sores in the genital area including the penis, scrotum, urethra, thighs, anus or rectum
  • Discomfort or pain with urination
  • Fever
  • Tingling, discomfort or itching on or around the genitals
  • Muscle aches and/or headache
  • Swollen lymph glands

If you’re currently experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, I encourage you to visit a doctor. A doctor will examine you for any signs of infection and the doctor can do a swab test on the sores. This helps a doctor determine if the sores are due to herpes or another condition.

But if you don’t currently have active sores, you can get tested for herpes with a blood test. The blood test we offer for herpes is the Herpes Simplex Virus Type-Specific HSV-1/2 IgG blood test. It looks for antibodies to herpes and because of this, it’s best to wait at least four weeks after you may have been exposed to herpes before taking it. That way, if you’ve been infected, your body will have enough antibodies to be detected by the test.

If you have more questions about herpes signs and symptoms, I hope you’ll look through our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2, and consider getting tested for herpes. You can also look to our HIV and STD testing guide to learn more about herpes testing.

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

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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