If you’ve reached this page, you’re probably in the midst of worrying if you have caught herpes from a partner who you know has the virus, or you’re experiencing some weird symptoms down below that you think could be genital herpes (HSV2). Either way, you need to get tested!
First, here’s a recap of the symptoms of genital herpes:
- Itching or pain which begins 2 to 10 days after you were exposed to the virus by a sexual partner who has it
- Small red bumps or white blisters which may appear several days later
- Ulcers these form if the blisters rupture
- Scabs these form after the ulcers heal
- Itching or tingling around your genitals, thighs or buttocks
- Painful urination due to the ulcers
- Pain and tenderness in your genitals
- Flu-like symptoms including muscle aches, fever and fatigue
- Headaches or back ache
Genital herpes is not the only condition that can produce these symptoms. Sometimes, HSV is mistaken for vaginal yeast infections, bacterial infections, or bladder infections. The only way to know whether they are the result of HSV or another condition is to be checked by a health care provider.
There are other conditions such as yeast infections or bacterial infections that can also show these symptoms, so just because you have one or more doesn’t mean you definitely have genital herpes. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.
An lastly, you can have genital herpes without showing any symptoms – so if you suspect you’ve been exposed to the virus, you should get tested.
Getting tested for herpes
To figure out if you have genital herpes or not, there’s a few things that can be done:
- Physical exam This is obviously one of the most uncomfortable, but your doctor may first do an exam to look at the physical symptom you are showing. It’s not pleasant, but doesn’t take long! A blood test will also more than likely be done as well to confirm the doctors diagnosis from the physical exam.
- Swab test The swab takes a sample of cells from a sore so that they can be examined under a microscope.
- Blood test Just like any old blood test, a sample of your blood is taken to analyse for the presence of HSV antibodies.
- When should you get tested?
A physical exam and swab test can obviously be done by your doctor while you are experiencing symptoms.
For a blood test, you will need to wait a little longer from the time you think you were infected. While herpes can be detected within around 2-3 weeks from when you are infected, it is recommended that you wait 4-6 weeks to get tested to avoid a false negative.
Where to get tested
You have a few options for where you can get tested.
Going to your doctor is the obvious choice – if you’re anything like me you might find it a bit uncomfortable and embarrassing to go in and talk about what’s going on, but, it’s better than doing nothing and not knowing.
STD Clinic or organise a test online
You can also go to an STD clinic or, if you want more privacy with no questions/explaining, organise a test online with somewhere like stdcheck.com.
If you are diagnosed with genital herpes, remember it’s not a death sentence! It’s an extremely common virus, and you can live a normal, healthy life with it with the right treatment. Your doctor will more than likely prescribe an anti-viral such as Acyclovir which is one of the most common medications used to control outbreaks. There are also a number of natural treatments that work very well which you can start from home right away to get rid of herpes symptoms.