Genital herpes

Foto van een meisje

Herpes is an STI. It is passed on during sex, especially if someone has visible sores or blisters at that moment on their penis, vagina or anus. You can also have herpes around your mouth. That’s called a cold sore. Herpes often goes away by itself. If it bothers you, you can get treatment.

Video: Doctor Hanna about genital herpes


Signs and symptoms of herpes

Some people who have the herpes virus don’t have symptoms. Any symptoms you have will appear 1 week after you’ve had sex. 

Symptoms you could have on your penis, vagina or anus:

  • Blisters or sores filled with fluid. If they’re in your vagina or anus, you might not notice them 
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Watery discharge
  • A burning sensation
  • Red marks on your skin
  • Pain when you’re peeing or, if you’ve had anal sex, when you’re pooing 
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Herpes outbreak

All these symptoms are called a herpes outbreak. During the first outbreak, the symptoms are the worst. You may then also have a fever, headache and aching muscles. After that, outbreaks will be milder. Some people only have 1 outbreak. The symptoms go away by themselves, but may come back:

  • If you’re tired and stressed
  • If you have flu or your period

The blisters form scabs after 1 to 4 weeks and then disappear. But the virus stays in your body. The blisters can come back again.


Herpes is not harmful, but can be painful or annoying. If it bothers you, then you can get treatment from your doctor.

There are 2 types of treatment:

  • Antiviral pills that shorten the outbreak.  These only work at the beginning of a herpes outbreak. You then have fewer symptoms
  • A cream that relieves the pain and helps the blisters to form scabs 

The virus stays in your body. You may get symptoms again. And sometimes the symptoms don’t completely go away.

If you often have severe outbreaks of herpes, ask your doctor if you can get treatment that stops you getting symptoms.