Genital Herpes

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can affect the mouth, the genital area, and the fingers. The virus lives in the nerve fibres, often causing no symptoms at all. There are 2 types of HSV:

  • Type 1 usually infects the mouth or nose, and is referred to as oral or facial herpes. It increasingly infects the genital area as a result of oral sex
  • Type 2 usually infects the genital and anal area


  • Skin contact
  • Kissing
  • Vaginal, anal and oral sex

Signs and symptoms

  • Itching and tingling sensation in the genital or anal area
  • Painful ulceration (blisters) of the affected area
  • Pain when passing urine
  • Flu-like illness, swollen glands, fever, backache


If left untreated, herpes will clear up by itself, although the symptoms can be very uncomfortable and distressing. There is an anti-viral treatment available which can alleviate the symptoms of herpes, but this needs to be taken within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. Any sexual partner(s) experiencing symptoms should also have a sexual health check up.