Men, you may have herpes and not even know it.
Herpes is an STD that any sexually active person can contract. What many people don’t know is that herpes often doesn’t present any symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you can spread herpes to a partner.
Genital Herpes in Men Statistics
Since herpes symptoms in men are not always clear, many men don’t realize the severity of this disease. The statistics are staggering:
- 20% of Americans have genital herpes
- 90% of people are unaware that they have herpes
- 50 million US adults have herpes
- 776,000 new infections occur each year
- Estimates suggest 40% of all men will have herpes by 2025
Putting it all into perspective, 1 out of 5 people in a room has herpes. Estimates suggest that the disease is spreading rapidly, with up to 50% of women contracting the disease by 2025.
And the truth is that the majority of men don’t know that they have herpes.
The statistics are likely much higher as a result of the lack of symptoms that present themselves.
If you’re sexually active and haven’t been checked for an STD, it’s important that you get checked every few months if you have more than one partner. Persons with more than one partner are at a much higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or sexually transmitted infection.
Most Common Signs of Herpes
There are two different types of herpes that can both present symptoms:
- HSV 1
- HSV 2
The main difference between these herpes types is:
- HSV 1 is transmitted through oral secretions or through skin contact via sores
- HSV 2 is a genital infection that occurs during sexual contact with a person
HSV 1 Symptoms in Men
Men and women suffer from the same symptoms when they have HSV 1. This form of herpes is also a silent form where most people don’t suffer from symptoms. If you have the following symptoms, you may have oral herpes:
- Itching of the mouth or lips
- General aches or pains
- Mouth sores or blisters
- Swollen armpit, groin or neck
Cold sores and fever blisters in the mouth are the definite signs of oral herpes.
The sores may be in the mouth or around the lips.
If you have cold sores and believe it may be herpes, the only way to know for sure is to get tested.
The first outbreak of oral herpes often appears 2 – 12 days following exposure to herpes. When people have their first outbreaks, they’ll often experience:
- Blisters in or around the mouth
- Blisters on the tongue or lips
Initial outbreaks last 7 – 10 days. When people have subsequent breakouts, they’ll find that the herpes has progressed, causing:
- 14 days of an outbreak
- Painful blisters or sores
While the pain level is higher, the second outbreak is often less severe, so you’ll have fewer sores and blisters. However, these blisters will now begin to hurt.
Initial blisters may be filled with yellow fluid, and they’re often reddish in color. Burning, itching or pain may also be present. The blisters will heal, and they will often have a yellowish tinge with crust around the edges.
If you contract any form of herpes, you will have it for life.
HSV 2 Symptoms in Men
Genital herpes also doesn’t present symptoms in 2 out of 3 cases. A lack of symptoms is the main reason for the spread of herpes. Silent in nature, some people will experience symptoms that may include:
- Lymph node swelling
- Sores / blisters on the penis
Sores are the tell-tale sign that a man has herpes. If you notice that you have sores or blisters on your penis, there is a high likelihood that you have genital herpes. With that said, the symptoms do vary a lot, so there’s a chance that you may have these lesser-known symptoms, too:
- Eye infection
You may also suffer from blisters, sores or ulcers in the following areas:
- Anus (outside or inside)
- Buttocks or thighs
- Nose or fingers
A proper testing protocol will include testing for both oral and genital herpes. If you do have sores or blisters, it’s important to know what an outbreak looks like. An outbreak will include:
- Warning signs – Prior to the outbreak occurring, there are warning signs that will present. The initial warning signs include shooting pains in the buttocks, legs or hips. A person may also suffer from tingling that’s mild. Warning signs present prior to an outbreak, and the symptoms can last up to 2 days.
- Outbreak – An outbreak includes the development of red spots that are painful. The red spots will turn into a yellow, fluid-filled blister after a day or so. Ulcers are left behind after the blisters break or burst.
The good news is that the outbreak often ends after 10 days. Subsequent outbreaks typically cause less pain and become more infrequent as the years go by. Outbreaks are random, and science is still trying to pinpoint the exact reason for an outbreak occurring.
Outbreaks seem to be completely random in many men, but there are some triggers that seem to cause an outbreak. The triggers often include:
- Immune system weakness
- Nerve damage
Outbreaks will occur for the remainder of a person’s life. Treatment makes the disease manageable, but there is no cure available yet. The first year will include 4 – 5 outbreaks over the period of a year. Men will start to have less severe and frequent outbreaks over time.
The initial outbreak will often be the longest outbreak a person experiences. Short, inconsistent outbreaks will follow for the rest of a person’s life. Antibiotics can help treat the episodes, but the symptoms will go away on their own without medical intervention.
Proper testing for herpes will allow you to seek treatment and learn how to manage your herpes symptoms.