Anonymous on November 21, 2011

What is genital herpes in women?

What are the symptoms of genital herpes in women?

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on November 21, 2011


Thanks for your question. It’s a good one because even though the symptoms of genital herpes in women are similar to those in men, it can be helpful to be more specific.

Although most people (men and women) don’t notice any signs or symptoms when they become infected with herpes, those who do may experience tingling, pain or burning in the genital area. A short time later, small blisters that become red open sores are also common signs of genital herpes.

Genital herpes in women can cause sores on the skin of the vulva or inside the vagina on the cervix. It’s also possible for sores to occur on the anus or buttocks. Herpes sores may also occur on the thighs, although this is less common.

Other signs of genital herpes in women include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle ache)
  • Itching, tingling or discomfort in the vaginal area
  • Pain or discomfort with urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Swollen lymph glands

The first outbreak of herpes is often the most severe...but recurring outbreaks may happen. Typically recurring outbreaks can be set off by stress, illness, fatigue, menstruation and even sun exposure.

If you have any signs or symptoms that could be herpes, I encourage you to visit a doctor. Or if you don’t currently have symptoms, you might consider our Herpes Simplex Virus Type-Specific HSV-1/2 IgG blood test. This looks for antibodies to the types of herpes that can cause oral and genital herpes and can tell you if you’re infected.

And you can learn more about our herpes test, in our Expert Guides.

Thanks again for sharing your question with us and I wish you good health.


Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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