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Genital Herpes in Men: Everything You Need To Know

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Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Over 8% of men have HSV-2 infection, but genital herpes can be caused by HSV-1 if it’s spread through sexual contact. 

The STI can be spread through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. However, it’s not always evident that you have the virus. It is estimated that 85–90% of cases may be undiagnosed, but you may experience some symptoms of genital herpes. 

What are the signs of genital herpes in men?

Genital herpes is a cluster of small, red bumps or white blisters that appear on and around the penis and/or anus. You can also experience herpes on the testicles and the urethra. If a blister ruptures, it can become painful and possibly ooze fluid or cause pain when you urinate. 

After your initial outbreak is treated, you may have more outbreaks during the next year and occasionally throughout your life.

What are the symptoms of genital herpes for men?

You may start to experience genital herpes symptoms two to 12 days after exposure to the virus. This may include:

  • Pain and itching or tenderness in your genital area until the infection clears
  • Small red bumps or white blisters can appear a few days or weeks after infection
  • An ulcer will form if a blister ruptures, causing the infected area to ooze or bleed
  • Scabs will develop as the ulcer heals and the skin crusts over

During the initial outbreak, you may also experience flu-like symptoms, including headaches, fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes in your groin.

How is genital herpes in men treated?

There is no cure for genital herpes, but antiviral medication can prevent the virus from reproducing. Treatment can also decrease the number of outbreaks and reduce your risk of passing the virus to others. You may be prescribed acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), or valacyclovir (Valtrex) to treat herpes. 

During an outbreak, you should also keep your genitals as clean and dry as possible and apply a covered ice pack to ease pain and itching a few times a day. 

Visit a healthcare provider if you think you have been exposed to HSV. They can take a fluid sample to confirm if you have the virus.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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