Genital Herpes

What is genital herpes?

  • Viral infection caused by Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2.
  • Mostly caused by HSV 2.
  • HSV 1 can be transmitted by :
    • Sharing eating utensils.
    • Kissing somebody with a cold sore.
  • HSV 2 is transmitted through intimate sexual contact.
    • Vaginal.
    • Oral.
    • Anal.
  • The virus can be passed to another person even if the blisters aren’t present on the genitalia (no symptoms).
  • Once infected, the virus will continue to remain in the person’s body unless treated.

How would you know if you have herpes infection?

Some people have no symptoms. However some may develop symptoms such as:

  • Itching or pain that appears a few days after exposure to the virus.
  • Followed by sores which turns into red, watery blisters on the :
    • Vagina.
    • Buttocks.
    • Anus.
    • Scrotum.
    • Penis.

Ulcers at the penis

  • Blisters later ooze fluid or bleed and then heal after 2 to 4 weeks.
  • There may be associated symptoms like fever and swollen lymph nodes.
  • HSV 1 causes cold sores on or around the mouth, lip or nose.

What happens next?

  • After the blisters recover (either with treatment or spontaneously) the virus lies inactive in your body. When your immune system is low, it reactivates and causes another breakout of sores.
  • Future breakouts will become less severe and shorter in duration.
  • Our body’s immune system is low when :
  • We are stressed or tired.
  • We practice unhealthy eating habits.
  • We are menstruating.

How can you treat herpes infection?

  • There is no cure for herpes.
  • However your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to control recurrences and clear up the sores.

What are the complications of such infections?

  • Genital herpes increases the risk of HIV infection.
  • If the herpes infection is active during childbirth, there is a risk of the newborn baby being infected.
  • Herpes infection in a newborn can cause meningitis (brain infection), seizures and brain damage.

Can we prevent genital herpes?


  • The best way is to avoid sex.


If you are below 16 years old, having sex is illegal unless you are married.

  • The Malaysian law states that consensual sex with girls below 16 years old will lead to the male being charged with statutory rape.

If you are sexually active, practice safe sex.

  • Be loyal to one partner. Avoid multiple partners.
  • Use condoms. However condoms are not 100% effective in preventing genital herpes but are able to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Avoid taking alcohol or drugs that can impair your judgement.
Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer : Dr. Hargeet Kaur a/p Basant Singh
Reviewer : Dr. Nazhatussima bt. Suhaili