What is a Genital Herpes test?
Genital herpes tests can detect the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV 2).
The viruses can be tested by using:
- urine (pee)
- swabs on the sores
Swab tests are more commonly used at clinics and in home testing kits, but there needs to be sores or blisters for a fluid sample to be collected. Where a sample can be taken, a swab test is really effective. We provide testing through swabs only. Where there are no blisters or lesions, a blood test is sometimes used. We do not offer blood testing for HSV. Herpes can be detected via urine sample in some cases. Our extended STI kit involves a urine sample and does test for herpes, but we do not currently provide urine tests for herpes only.
HSV 1 is also called oral herpes. It’s the most common form of herpes that can give you sores and blisters around the lips, although many cases of cold sores are caused by HSV 2 as well. HSV 2 is referred to as genital herpes and results in sores, blisters, and lesions around the genital area and anus (bottom). Genital herpes can also result from HSV 1 where there has been contact between mouth and genitals.
Why should I get tested?
Genital herpes does not often show signs or symptoms until you have an outbreak. If you have had unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes, then you may have caught it too. It is important to get tested so that you do not pass it on to someone else.
It is very important to get tested if you are a pregnant woman and have a partner with genital herpes. This is because your baby could also become infected if you get genital herpes too. Herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of herpes?
Blisters are the most common symptom of herpes. They can occur in various parts of the body around the:
- anus (bottom)
The blisters can often be itchy or tingle. They can also be painful, sometimes causing pain when you use the toilet. This can also affect your quality of life and ability to enjoy sex.
The blisters contain a clear liquid that bursts and scabs over. Blisters may take 1 to 2 weeks to heal, but the first outbreak may last longer. Symptoms may disappear on their own but can return.
If herpes is left untreated, it can increase the risk of getting other STIs, including HIV. As herpes has no cure, it is only advisable to test for it if you have symptoms. Early diagnosis can help manage the condition and reduce the risk of spread to sexual partners.
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