Most people infected with the herpes simplex virus don’t have any signs of genital herpes.
If you’ve got symptoms of genital herpes, they’re the same in women and men. The ‘cold sores’ or blisters come in a pattern. There’s a first outbreak, when you first see signs of genital herpes infection, followed by recurring outbreaks.
First signs of genital herpes infection
Within the first one to three weeks after being infected with herpes simplex virus, you’ll get flu-like symptoms. These symptoms include fever, tiredness, headache, swollen glands, and aches and pains in your lower back.
You’ll also get ‘cold sores’ or blisters in your genital area, around your anus, or on your buttocks or the tops of your thighs. Where you get the blisters depends on how you’ve had sex.
- May feel tingly, itchy, or even stinging to touch
- May be small, fluid-filled
- Usually pop within a day or two to leave small red sores
- May cause pain when you pee because after they pop, they’ll leave open sores
- May last between two to four weeks
In general, your first herpes outbreak is usually the most painful. The symptoms generally clear up within two to four weeks. Some people have only one attack, while others may have several more outbreaks. With each outbreak, the symptoms of genital herpes usually become less painful.
Recurring signs of genital herpes infection
Recurring genital herpes outbreaks can include:
- Painful, stinging blisters filled with fluid
- Fewer and smaller blisters/sores
- Watery discharge
- Pain when you pee
If you’ve got recurring genital herpes outbreaks, they generally tend to be shorter, lasting between three to five days. Often, you’ll find you’ve got fewer and smaller sores.
Blisters/sores tend to come back when you’re tired or stressed. They may also come back when you’ve got a cold or are having your period.
Over time, you’ll probably find that you’ll have less and less outbreaks. However, this doesn’t mean you’re not infected with the herpes simplex virus. You’re still infected. It just means you’re body is able to clear up the infection more quickly.