Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is the best way to check for herpes?"
I am a sexually active woman in my late 20s, and I think I might have contracted herpes from my sex partner. It seems like a lot of clinics don't actually test for herpes. What's the best way for me to get tested?
Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and unfortunately is not curable. Many clinicians diagnose genital herpes by visualizing the skin lesions near the genital area in the context of concerning symptoms (burning and pain in the area). Since there are very few other possible causes of this presentation, physicians will often begin treatment without definitive testing. Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Symptoms painful eruptions of blisters in the genital area. Although these blisters will often heal and scab over, the virus can persists in the bodies of nerve cells and reappear during time of stress or when your immune system isn't working properly. The initial infection is usually the most painful. Definitive testing for herpes is, as stated above, not usually done. However, you could ask your physician if he or she will perform a Tzanck smear (which looks for immune cells that are fighting the virus) viral culture, viral antigen test, or PCR all of which can diagnose herpes. However, this requires a swab of an active lesion. You would need to see your doctor as soon as you develop the blisters. Herpes is a very treatable condition, and many patients experience long term relief from the symptoms with the right medications. Make sure to see your doctor soon. Delaying treatment can increase your risk for future attacks.
Need more info?See a primary care-doctor today
Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.