Trade Sexual Health

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and trans communities of Leicester,
Leicestershire & Rutland

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Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes is a very common infection caused by a virus called the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).

Most people who have HSV do not have any symptoms, or do not recognise the symptoms because they are mild. Therefore many people who have HSV do not know they have it.


Symptoms of herpes, which you can get anything from a week to a few years after getting the virus, can be:

  • Feeling achy, as if you have a cold or flu
  • Small blisters or sores, often around the penis, vagina and in the anus (anal herpes)
  • Swollen glands

How is it transmitted?

HSV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact; through oral sex; anal and/or vaginal sex without condoms; rimming; masturbating other people; inserting fingers into someone else’s anus or vagina; or kissing someone with a cold sore in or around their mouth.

Do you think you may have Genital Herpes?

If you think you may have Herpes you can go to your nearest GUM clinic. You can also see your GP.

By law, a sexual health clinic cannot tell anyone about your visit to the GUM; these rules do not apply to your GP who can tell other people about your appointment.


The doctor or nurse will test you for HSV by taking a small sample with cotton wool or a swab. This is not painful.


There is no cure for HSV; you may be given tablets which can help to clear up the outbreak quicker. The virus stays in your body but your immune system should keep it under control most of the time. For genital or anal sores the doctor, nurse or chemist can advise you on creams and lotions that may help, do not use cold sore creams in these areas of the body.

Some people find that they get outbreaks when they are:

  • Tired or stressed
  • Have not been eating well
  • Have been drinking a lot or not taking much care of themselves

How to protect yourselves and others

If you have herpes it is best to tell anyone you have recently had sex with so that they can get a checkup.

  • Avoid sex if you or your partner has a cold sore or herpes blister
  • Avoid sex if you feel a blister coming along
  • Wash your hands if blisters are touched and before handling contact lenses
  • If you have herpes not to use saliva as a lubricant during sex

Using a condom can help protect against getting and passing on herpes or other sexually transmitted infections. Dental dams can also be used during oral sex and rimming for safer sex. You can order free safer sex packs from Trade here.

Sexual health