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Genital Herpes

The Symptoms

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Updated July 15, 2007

What are the symptoms of genital herpes?

Unfortunately, most people who have genital herpes don't know it because they never have any symptoms, or they do not recognize any symptoms they might have. When there are symptoms, they can be different in each person. Most often, when a person becomes infected with herpes for the first time, the symptoms will appear within two to 10 days. These first episodes of symptoms usually last two to three weeks.

Early symptoms of a genital herpes outbreak include:

  • itching or burning feeling in the genital or anal area.
  • pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area.
  • discharge of fluid from the vagina.
  • feeling of pressure in the abdomen.

Within a few days, sores appear near where the virus has entered the body, such as on the mouth, penis, or vagina. They also can occur inside the vagina and on the cervix in women, or in the urinary passage of women and men. Small red bumps appear first, develop into blisters, and then become painful open sores. Over several days, the sores become crusty and then heal without leaving a scar. Some other symptoms that may go with the first episode of genital herpes are fever, headache, muscle aches, painful or difficult urination, vaginal discharge, and swollen glands in the groin area.

Genital Herpes FAQS Table of Contents

Reprinted from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

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