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HSV-2 Symptoms

On This Page: Symptoms | Transmission | How Common is it? | Is It Curable? | Testing Info

What is Herpes?

Herpes is a common, sexually transmitted, viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is known for causing sores on the mouth, genitalia, and surrounding areas, although the breakout area depends on the simplex of herpes.

Take Charge of Your Health

Two-thirds of genital herpes cases are symptomless, and because much of the genitals are left uncovered by condoms, genital herpes can still be contracted during sex even if a condom is used. Our herpes tests are confidential, affordable, and no appointment is needed.

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Herpes Simplex Virus 2

HSV-2, or more commonly known as genital herpes, is the type of herpes that often causes sores on or near the genitals. These sores are very similar to those usually found on the mouth caused by HSV-1, making the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2 practically negligible to most people outside of sore location. Both types are incurable and can lead to periodic outbreaks.

HSV-2 Symptoms in Men & Women

The most prominent indications that you may have the simplex 2 virus are sores that develop on and near the genitals. This can include your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, anus, scrotum, inner thighs, and buttocks. These sores are often described as painful, itchy, and burning.

Unpleasant urination and vaginal discharge are less common symptoms of HSV-2. If you notice sores, we highly advise you to get tested. It is best to refrain from having sex until the herpes sores are treated and have gone away, as genital herpes is especially contagious during outbreaks.

Initial Outbreak Symptoms

The first outbreak of herpes, known as the primary infection, is usually the worst herpes has to offer. The symptoms of the primary infection can include the ordinary sores typically associated with herpes, plus fever and malaise (feeling unwell overall).

How is HSV-2 Transmitted?

The herpes simplex 2 virus is most often spread through unprotected sex and contact with herpes sores, but also can be transmitted through the transfer of bodily fluids. You are most susceptible to infection if your partner is currently experiencing an outbreak and has open sores. Pregnant women that have genital herpes sores present during birth may need to have a caesarean section (C-section) operation performed, as HSV-2 can be transmitted to a newborn otherwise.

Another, (although less likely) way to acquire genital herpes is by receiving oral sex from someone with a cold sore (HSV-1). Were you to become infected with genital herpes through this method, you technically would still be infected with HSV-1 even though it caused outbreaks on the genitals. Because HSV generally infects the area it comes in contact with, it is very important to get tested for both HSV-1 and HSV-2.

How Common is Herpes Simplex 2?

While oral herpes is much more common than genital herpes, the CDC says nearly 16% of people carry the HSV-2 virus. This equates to about one in six people, making HSV-2 still one of the more common STDs.

Is it curable?

Unfortunately, all forms of herpes are currently incurable. This means that once you have it, it’s with you forever. Luckily, there are medications you can take to reduce the impact genital herpes can have on your life.


Medicines like Acyclovir and Valacyclovir can help your body fight the virus, by speeding up the healing and lessening the pain of the sores. These types of medications can either be taken daily or at the beginning of outbreaks. offers doctor consultation to those who test positive for an STD. One of our physicians can prescribe you the appropriate herpes medication even over the phone.

Testing for the Virus

We offer both HSV-1 and HSV-2 testing. Both are done through a blood test called chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA), which searches for antibodies that are trying to fight off the herpes virus. Since every person develops the antibodies to fight the HSV-2 virus at different rates, the earliest time you can test for HSV-2 varies. We suggest waiting at least a month or more after you believe you have become infected. Six weeks should be enough time for most people to develop the HSV-2 antibodies necessary for our tests to determine if you have the virus.

Our FDA-cleared HSV-2 test has a sensitivity rating of 98%, and a specificity of 98%, making it extremely accurate. To purchase an HSV-2 test, go to our dedicated HSV-2 test page.

  1. "Herpes Signs and Symptoms." American Sexual Health Association.
  2. "Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. LeGoff, Jérôme, Hélène Péré, and Laurent Bélec. "Diagnosis of Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Infection in the Clinical Laboratory." Virology Journal.
  4. Straface, Gianluca, Alessia Selmin, Vincenzo Zanardo, Marco De Santis, Alfredo Ercoli, and Giovanni Scambia. "Herpes Simplex Virus Infection in Pregnancy." Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Medically Reviewed by on June 18, 2019

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