Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes: Free advice – ask me today!

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By Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH | GMC no. 3657058

I am a GP and a sexual health and hormone specialist. I can give advice on any medical matter, and I offer safe access to medical advice, prescription medication, blood tests and x-rays, and specialist referrals to your local private hospital as needed.

Genital Herpes

Viral infection causes by Herpes simplex virus (HSV)

  • There are 2 types of HSV type 1 and type 2
  • Can be complicated to understand but is in fact a very common virus affecting 70 % of the population
  • HSV1 –the most common cause of cold sores around the mouth. This virus can be spread through oral sex
  • HSV2- the virus that usually causes sores around the genitals. It is spread through vaginal, anal sex and sharing of sex toys. It can also be caught around the mouth through oral sex
  • Both types of virus can infect the genitals (genital herpes), the mouth and nose ( cold sores) and fingers (whitlows)
  • Once the virus enters the skin the virus can lie quietly (dormant) in the nervous system and can remain like this for months, sometimes years. Some people can get symptoms when they first get infected, some don’t.
  • The virus can become reactivated ( wake up) due to physical or emotional stimulation, causing the virus to travel along the nerve pathways to the surface of the skin. Sometimes this results in an outbreak of sores/blisters. Sometimes there are no visible signs of the virus on the skin but the virus can still be released from the skin cells- this is called viral shedding
  • So whilst a new diagnosis may occur as early as 4-5 days after unprotected sex with a new partner, the virus can have been present but inactive for sometime and then be activated causing symptoms. This can cause relationship issues as people find this hard to understand
  • Some people will have really good natural immunity to the HSV viruses- meaning they can be exposed to it frequently but never become infected. This can change if their own immunity system is under pressure and then out of the blue they can get infected. Others can be exposed for the first time and get infected
  • HSV1 & 2 types can both recur and then be transmitted to others even when there are no noticeable symptom

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of HSV?
  • The first symptom is usually a feeling of being generally unwell, flu-like symptoms, sometimes swollen glands and aches and pains of the lower body
  • Stinging and tingling sensation of the skin on the genitals and then small blisters appear
  • Blisters burst within 1-2 days leaving small red sores which can be very painful, and in some cases making it difficult to pass urine
Is there a test available online?
  • There is a test which can tell you if you currently have the HSV virus that is active and whether it is type 1 or 2
  • It will not tell you if you have HSV in the dormant (sleeping) phase


How is genital herpes passed on?
  • Spread during vaginal and anal sex and sharing sex toys
  • Close skin to skin contact of genitals without penetrative sex
  • Receiving oral sex from someone who has a cold sore or is about to get a cold sore
  • Being touched in the genital area by someone who has herpes of the hand or fingers
  • The virus enters the body through small cracks in the skin or through the moist soft skin of the mouth, vagina, rectum or urethra and under the foreskin
How is genital herpes treated?
  • The treatment is available on line
  • The routine treatment is oral antiviral medication – Aciclovir, this works by preventing further virus coming to the skin surface therefore stopping more blisters appearing. Treatment needs to start within 5 days of the start of symptoms to be effective
  • If you get frequent outbreaks of the virus, longer term use of this medication may be recommended
  • If you are having a particularly painful episode of blisters a local anaesthetic gel can be prescribed to help with passing urine
Does my partner need treating?


  • Not unless they have any signs or symptoms of genital herpes


Do I need to tell future sexual partners?
  • This can be a difficult decision as it is a complex situation. You definitely shouldn’t have unprotected sex with anyone whilst you have symptoms and for at least a week after symptoms have gone.
  • If you are symptom free and well – it is your choice – there are online support groups that may help you with how to approach this


We can offer three packages for sexual health screening

Package 1

Basic Chlamydia/gonorrhoea urine test

Package 2

Test for 7 infections- Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Mycoplasma Genitalium, Ureaplasma, Trichomonas vaginalis, Herpes Simplex 1/11 and Gardnerella vaginalis

Package 3

Blood tests- HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C

Contact me now for advice, prescriptions, blood tests and referrals.

Please note that this service does not aim to replace advice given to you by your own doctor, it is meant to supplement your health knowledge and awareness.

It is never to be used in the case of a medical emergency.


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