Symptoms Of Herpes In Women

symptoms of herpes in women
Medically reviewed by Richard Honaker M.D.


Symptoms of herpes in women don’t always pop up. Many of the symptoms are pretty similar to other common womanly issues. This makes herpes one of the least diagnosed STDs out there.

Around 87.4 percent of people with herpes (HSV-2) have never been diagnosed. This makes knowing what to keep an eye out for vital for women. Did you know that one in six people has herpes? Those are not great odds for sexually active women.

Most doctors will not test for herpes like other STDs unless herpes symptoms are present. This could be why over 80 percent of people with herpes have no clue they are infected.

So what should women be looking for? The following are herpes symptoms in women you can keep in mind.

7 Symptoms Of Herpes In Women

Tingling Sensation

If you’re experiencing a tingling sensation around your genital area, you may have herpes. In most cases, this is one of the first herpes symptoms women will have. So be on the lookout for tingling. It is not a definitive sign of HSV-2 but something to discuss with a doctor.

Itching and Irritation

Itching and irritation are herpes symptoms in women that she may assume to be related to her clothing, tight yoga pants, or excessive sweating caused by exercising. But this is a tell-tale sign of a potential STD. It can indicate the beginning of genital herpes stages. If you have been experiencing itching or irritation in your lady parts for an extended period, it may be best to talk to a doctor.

Pimples Down There

Pimples or blisters that appear down there could be a genital herpes symptom worth looking into with a doctor. Like a pimple, herpes may crust or scab after a small, unnoticeable breakout. Herpes sores and blisters can also appear toward the buttocks, so be on the lookout for this herpes symptom.

Feeling the Flu Coming On?

Flu-like symptoms are another potential indicator of herpes. Did you know that 70 percent of women feel like they have the flu during their first herpes outbreak? These herpes symptoms include headache, muscle aches, fever, and swollen glands. You may have the flu, but be aware that your flu-like symptoms may also be herpes.

Pelvic Pain

An inflamed pelvis, or cervicitis, maybe a herpes symptom. This includes painful sex, odd discharge, or spotting between periods. Several STDs can cause it, but it is a good idea to talk to a doctor about possible herpes infection.

Peeing is Painful

If it is painful when you pee, you may have herpes. This is because when herpes blisters or ulcers pop, they can burn when pee splashes on them. It is uncomfortable and definitely, a symptom to discuss with a doctor.

Swollen lymph nodes in the groin and tenderness in the lower abdomen

The very first outbreak of genital herpes often causes more intense symptoms than later outbreaks. The herpes sores on the skin can be accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes in the groin area.

Talk with a doctor to get a prescription and a lab test for herpes

Location of herpetic sores

Sores tend to appear where the infection enters your body. You can spread the disease by touching herpes sore and then touching another area of your body, including your eyes.

Both men and women can develop:

  • Pimples on buttocks and thighs
  • Sores near the anus
  • Mouth sores or ulcers 
  • Sores on/in the urethra

Women can develop:

  • Vaginal sores/ulcers
  • Genital ulcers(external genitals)
  • Blisters/sores on the cervix

Men can develop:

  • Herpes sores on the penis
  • Herpetic ulcers on the scrotum
  • Herpes on testicles

Read More: Pimples vs Herpes: Appearance, Symptoms and Treatments

Genital Herpes Stages:

Not everyone infected with genital herpes develops sores. Although early symptoms of herpes can vary, the appearance of genital sores can indicate a herpes outbreak in females. The sores are usually excruciating and form a small cluster of pimples/blisters that may appear 4 to 7 days after the initial contact. These herpetic sores can crust over and heal within 2 to 3 weeks for the first episode. However, they usually take less time to recover in subsequent outbreaks. The sores’ location can vary and appear around the anus, buttocks, thighs, or genitals. 

Herpes Recurrences

The symptoms and signs of genital herpes in women can vary. If symptoms return, it is called a recurrence. Recurrences are more likely with HSV-2 infection than with HSV-1. Some people experience numerous episodes each year. For others, the outbreaks are less frequent. Symptoms of herpes in women may recur, off and on. Individuals may notice warning symptoms minutes or days before a recurrence, including tingling, burning sensation, or itching in the affected area. In addition, you may experience pain in your buttocks, thighs, legs, or lower back. The symptoms of a recurrence tend to be less severe, and sores generally heal more quickly. Over the years, recurrences usually become less frequent. 

What causes herpes outbreaks?

Unfortunately, herpes is a lifelong infection. So if someone is diagnosed with herpes, they will have it for the rest of their life. This is because even when the sores heal, and the symptoms subside, the virus hides in the nerve cells and remains dormant. The sores can return anytime, and the person can experience an outbreak. Several factors can trigger an attack, some of which include:

  • Stress
  • Sun exposure
  • Poor diet
  • Illness or a fever
  • Menstruation 

Can a pregnant woman with genital herpes pass the virus to her baby?

A pregnant woman with genital herpes can pass the virus to her baby. A baby with herpes might be born early or with brain, skin, or eye problems, or the baby may not survive.

If you have herpes and are pregnant, informing your doctor is essential, as pregnancy can be managed safely if your physician knows about your condition.

What are the symptoms of herpes in babies?

Some signs that indicate that your baby may have herpes include:

  • Irritability
  • Blisters present on the body
  • Trouble breathing
    • blue appearance 
    • rapid breathing
    • grunting
    • short periods of no breathing
  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding easily

How can I prevent spreading herpes to my child?

  • If you are pregnant and are showing signs and symptoms of genital HSV-2 infection, inform your doctor as soon as possible. A C-section delivery is usually advised if a mother has an HSV-2 outbreak near birth.
  • Ensure that everyone washes their hands before touching the newborn.
  • Do not kiss your baby or allow anyone else to do so, especially if there are cold sores on the mouth or lips.
Is it a bacterial infection or herpes? Chat with a doctor to find out more!

Herpes VS Ingrown Hair:

You may have sores that look like herpes but are not herpetic sores or blisters. Waxing, shaving, or plucking hair is the most common culprit leading to ingrown hairs in your genital area. An ingrown hair commonly presents as tiny red, tender bumps in your genital area. Sometimes the hair may become entrapped under the skin or grows in an unusual direction. Resultantly this may give rise to an infection of the hair follicle.

Symptoms of an ingrown hair include:

  • small, red bumps that are not clustered together 
  • bumps with a pimplelike head, pus on squeezing the bump
  • itching
  • soreness
  • inflammation 

Mainly, genital herpes presents as a cluster of sores/blisters that are very painful. However, ingrown hairs typically develop as isolated bumps. You may have multiple ingrown hairs at one time. It is possible to notice a thin line in the center of the sore in case of ingrown hair. Ingrown hairs can resolve on their own unless an infection results in folliculitis. Treatment may be required if that is the case. 

When to Consult a Doctor

The truth is that it can be tough to tell for women in the absence of symptoms. However, herpes symptoms of a woman’s first outbreak can be painful, and the diagnosis can be devastating. You should talk to our online doctor if experiencing any of the above symptoms. It is essential to get an STD test to be sure you are healthy. Living with herpes may not be easy, but seeking treatment for the symptoms at the start of an outbreak can help prevent all the unnecessary pain. Our board-certified doctors at Your Doctors Online can provide a prescription to help manage your herpes symptoms. If you have questions about STDs, we have answers.

Talk with a doctor and start treatment for herpes

FAQs About Herpes Answered by Your Doctors Online Team 

How to tell if you have herpes?

Symptoms of herpes can vary from individual to individual. Some people do not develop any symptoms at all. However, if you develop painful sores in the genital region or around the anus or pimples near the buttocks, it may be due to herpes. Other symptoms include tingling or a burning sensation in the genital area. You can also develop a fever, pain while urinating, muscle aches, or swollen lymph nodes.

How do you get herpes?

Herpes is acquired through anal, genital, or oral intercourse. Skin-to-skin contact can transmit the infection as well. Touching open sores can lead to the transmission of herpes infection as well.

Does herpes pop like pimples?

Genital herpes sores can look similar to pimples. Herpes sores can appear as fluid-filled blisters that may ooze but usually crust over or scab over weeks.

Is herpes lifelong?

Unfortunately, herpes is lifelong as the virus stays in the body forever. However, not everyone will experience any symptoms in a lifetime; if one does, they usually reduce in frequency and intensity over time.

Is herpes life-threatening?

Herpes is generally not fatal or life-threatening. However, the virus can be dangerous in immunocompromised states, such as during pregnancy.

How to treat herpes on the buttocks?

A doctor usually prescribes oral and topical antiviral medications for treatment. Antiviral treatments include acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir.

What does a herpes sore look like?

At first, herpes sores can appear as small bumps or pimples before developing into fluid-filled blisters. The color may be red, white, or yellow. A clear or yellow liquid oozes out on bursting, and then a yellow crust or scab develops over it and eventually heals. Genital sores vary in number and size, but as with oral herpes, they look like pimples or blisters filled with fluid.

What does herpes look like?

Herpes can present as sores on the skin, accompanied by tingling, burning in the region, and pain while urinating. Other symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes in the groin area.

How long does it take for herpes to show up?

It can take 2 to 12 days for symptoms to appear after exposure. The average incubation period is four days for the herpes virus. 

How far away is a herpes cure?

Unfortunately, herpes is a lifelong infection, and studies are undergoing a potential cure. However, nothing can be said for sure.

Can you get herpes from kissing?

Yes, you can get herpes from kissing someone if they are infected with oral herpes.

Can you get herpes from a toilet seat?

No, you do not get herpes from a toilet seat. Instead, the infection is transmitted through intercourse and skin-to-skin contact with an infected partner.

What are the common medications for herpes?

A doctor usually prescribes oral or topical antivirals to treat herpes or manage symptoms of an outbreak. Some of these antivirals used include: 
Acyclovir (Sitavig®, Zovirax).
Famciclovir (Famvir).
Valacyclovir (Valtrex).

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