ZocdocAnswersIs herpes difficult to detect in men?

Question

Is herpes difficult to detect in men?

I'm a 27 year old guy and I'm pretty sure I have been exposed to herpes in the last year. I haven't had any symptoms yet, but isn't it true that herpes is harder to detect in men than in women? Is it worth getting the test if I haven't seen any signs yet?

Answer

Herpes is a common condition with many sexually active people being exposed. I would recommend talking to your primary care physician regarding this, as well as other issues that arise with sexual activity. Herpes, is a family of viruses that can affect humans. Herpes simplex 1 and 2 are commonly referred to as herpes. Herpes simplex 1 commonly causes oral ulcers and herpes simplex 2 causes genital herpes (although that distinction is not 100%). I think you are referring to genital herpes so lets talk about that. In general, women are more likely to get genital herpes as male to female transition is easier than female to male. That is, the vaginal wall is a bigger area to be infested by the herpes virus than the penis's opening--so it is more likely for women to get in. However, once they get it, men and women are equally likely to have symptoms. These include ulcerations, vesicles, pain, itching and even pain with urination. The nature of the disease is that it occurs, resolves then relapses over and over again--it is difficult to cure. That is, the episodes occur and can keep coming back. Therefore, you may have the virus just not have experienced symptoms. In general, tests for herpes are only good if you are having symptoms (have visible vesicles)--so without it there is no good way to test (and really no need as you would not treat any differently). While testing for herpes is not necessary without symptoms, testing for other sexually transmitted disease is important (for example HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia). I would talk to your primary care physician regarding this question and other general health for a sexually active 27 yo male. Good luck.

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