What Men Should Know

Herpes

Herpes is a virus that causes painful blisters.

There are two kinds of herpes: blisters that commonly occur on your lips and around your mouth (usually called cold sores) and genital herpes, which causes blisters in your genital or anal area. Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

The virus is easily released from the blisters, which burst and become sores. However, it can also be passed from skin that does not appear to have any blisters or sores.

If you get herpes you will have it for the rest of your life. Even though the blisters and sores will disappear, they may come back at various times.

The Signs

Most people first realize they have genital herpes when they notice blisters or sores in their genital or anal area, which is called an outbreak (visible symptoms) of the virus. An outbreak may occur only once a year or so often that the symptoms are continuous.

Some people, however, never have an outbreak so it’s important to understand other symptoms associated with this infection. These can include a tingling, burning or itchy feeling on the skin before blisters appear, swollen and tender lymph nodes in the groin area and painful urination.

Herpes blisters are painful and can occur around the genital area, the anus or thighs. The blisters are often the worst during the very first outbreak.

What Can You Do?
  • Consult your healthcare provider if you notice any blisters or sores around your penis or anus.
  • There is no cure for genital herpes but it can be treated with prescription antiviral medications. These drugs help the sores heal quicker, lessen the severity of symptoms, and reduce the frequency of outbreaks. They may also help to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Don’t have sex with someone who has visible blisters or sores.
  • Your best defence against this infection is to always use a condom and water based lubricant when you have sex, and to reduce your number of sexual partners.