Details about genital herpes and the features of this genital infection

A cold on the lips scares people a little, but genital herpes makes many people nervous, despite the fact that it is caused by the same virus – Herpes Simplex (herpes simplex) or, in another way, HSV (herpes simplex virus). In this article, we will look at how this virus manifests itself in the genital area in men and women, what is the incubation period of the virus, how long it goes through in certain forms, and what it can be confused with.


The causative agent of genital herpes and the cause of its occurrence in the form of a virus is HSV (herpes simplex virus). There are two types of them, but which type of genital herpes affects the genitals is not entirely obvious. Most people write that genital herpes is caused by HSV type 2, and HSV type 1 causes a cold sore on the lips. This is not entirely true, since types 1 and 2 of HSV differ more in the frequency of rashes, and not in localization. HSV type 1 can affect almost any part of the body, as well as HSV type 2, therefore modern doctors say that HSV type 1 gives less relapses than HSV type 2, and this is their difference.

So, we figured out what genital herpes is, now let’s look at how genital herpes is transmitted:

contact method of transmission, when skin touches with damage to healthy skin;

with sex, and with any type of sexual intimacy;

from mother to fetus during pregnancy;

in a household way, through items such as a toilet bowl and so on.

First, you need to know that genital herpes during the initial infection can pass without symptoms. Secondly, you need to understand that after infection, the herpes infection will turn into a chronic form and will not manifest itself until some malfunction occurs in the host’s body, which will create favorable conditions for a relapse of the disease.


And now, in order, about the ways of transmission of genital herpes:

Contact transmission of genital herpes and HSV pathogen through the skin. Transmission of the pathogen through the skin is possible only if the carrier has recurrent genital herpes. That is, when it manifests itself directly at the time of transmission. When there is a herpetic rash, especially in an acute form, on any part of the skin, touching the skin of a healthy person is very easy to transmit the virus to a new body.

With sex. The virus is genital for that, so that it can easily spread through sexual intercourse, so genital herpes is partly considered a sexually transmitted disease. It is very easily transmitted through any kind of sexual contact, through oral sex, anal and vaginal sex. Moreover, if you have a cold on your lips while engaging in oral sex, there is a very high risk of infecting your partner.

From pregnant to fetus. Here it is only important to understand that the main danger to the fetus will be the primary infection of the mother during pregnancy, and pathologies in the development of the fetus may occur. And relapses of genital herpes during pregnancy can also be dangerous. But this is a large and separate topic, so if you are concerned about this issue, we recommend that you read the article in detail – genital herpes during pregnancy.

With a household method. Yes, and this is possible. It is believed that the herpes virus can live on household items for up to 30 minutes. But it is extremely unlikely to catch HSV under these circumstances. Of course, in some cases this can happen if you visit public baths or saunas, but still the most common method of infection is through sexual intercourse, namely unprotected sex.


Primary infection

Primary genital herpes occurs by transmission of the virus from a carrier to a person whose body has not yet met the herpes simplex virus. Accordingly, the new organism does not have specific antibodies to suppress herpes infection, but the symptoms of genital herpes do not always appear. But let’s look at the cases when primary genital herpes still gives symptoms.

In men. With the manifestation of genital herpes in men, a herpetic rash forms on the head of the penis. And also a rash can appear in the area between the legs, on the scrotum in the groin or perianal part. The bubbles then fill with a cloudy liquid, after which ulcers form and crust over.

Among women. All the same bubble herpetic eruptions are formed in the area of ​​the outer labia, it is possible that the rash will begin to pour out on the labia minora, as well as in the perineum, outside near the urethra, in the vagina, on the buttocks and hips or in the cervix. The blisters then also develop into crusty ulcers.

If we talk in general about the manifestation of genital herpes and the symptoms that can occur in both women and men, it is worth highlighting discomfort during urination, sometimes discharge from the genitals and inflammation of the lymph nodes in the groin area are possible. The incubation period of genital herpes with primary infection lasts about a week.

Recurrent genital herpes

Chronic genital herpes usually does not produce such vivid symptoms in relapses, in contrast to the initial infection. Half of all relapses are when a flare-up of genital herpes occurs within the first six months after the initial infection.

The duration of an exacerbation usually does not exceed 10 days. With the prodromal period of the disease, which lasts from noon to one and a half days, there is a burning sensation of that part of the genitals where the relapse manifested itself. In this case, symptoms of a neuralgic nature may appear. Neuralgic pain, as a rule, radiates either to the lumbar region or to the legs. After this, genital herpes appears with the same vesicular eruptions, which subsequently form ulcers. And also a relapse of the disease of genital herpes can give general symptoms. There may be general malaise and weakness, sometimes headaches. But an increase in lymph nodes in the groin area is observed only with extensive rashes.

If we talk about the course of the disease, then the recurrence of genital herpes is divided into three types:

Monotonous – with this type there are frequent relapses and rare periods of the chronic course of the disease, namely remissions.

Arrhythmic – with this type of remission, up to six months are observed, after which the signs of genital herpes again make themselves felt.

Subside – with this type of relapses are characterized by a short course and fairly long remissions are observed.

It is also worth knowing that more than half of all carriers have an asymptomatic stage of the disease, which speaks of a suppressed virus in the body. In this case, it is possible to detect the presence of herpesvirus only by resorting to laboratory diagnostics.

Symptoms of atypical forms

In atypical forms, herpes infection can be confused with other diseases. And the atypicality of the virus can be detected only when the diagnosis is made after laboratory research. Atypical forms of HSV herpetic infection are found in more than 50% of patients.

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