Ways To Test For Herpes In Men and Women

Submitted by Nic on October 17, 2012

Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two types of HSV – HSV type 1 and HSV type 2. Both can affect the genital area though symptoms such as blisters and sores may also appear around the mouth. Herpes affects the nerve cells of the infected person and symptoms can last a lifetime. It is therefore very important to recognize the symptoms of herpes and reach an accurate diagnosis at the earliest.

Symptoms of herpes can differ from person to person. In some cases, symptoms such as aches and pains in the legs and sexual organs along with itching and burning in the genital area may appear within two to ten days. In other cases, the symptoms may be mild enough to be ignored completely. Other symptoms of herpes include a discharge from the penis or vagina, an upset stomach, fever, blisters near the genitals or around the mouth, open sores and a burning sensation when urinating.

If you notice any of the above symptoms or anything else out of the ordinary concerning your overall health, you should visit your doctor or health care provider at the earliest. In many cases, herpes symptoms could be confused with other illnesses leading to a misdiagnosis. This is why a clinical diagnosis of herpes is imperative for proper treatment. It may be embarrassing but answering your doctor's questions about your sexual history is important for an accurate confirmation of a herpes infection. After an initial physical examination there are different herpes tests for men and women. A blood test is only prescribed when visible symptoms of herpes are not present as a blood test may indicate the presence of herpes antibodies. However, this does not always confirm a herpes infection as there are several cases where the results are positive but the person may still not have herpes. This is why other diagnostic tests are required in addition to a blood test.

Herpes STD tests for men include a closer examination of the penis, scrotum, and rectum for blisters or any skin lesions. The urethra will also be checked for any discharge. In some cases, swabs of the anus and urethra may be taken and the samples sent to a laboratory for further investigation.

Ways to test for herpes in women include a pelvic examination where your doctor will use a speculum to inspect the vagina and cervix. The labia, anus, and area between the vulva will also be checked for herpes blisters or other signs of an infection. For some women herpes tests may also require swabs from the anus and cervix.

If you visit your doctor when the symptoms are active or the sores have not yet healed there are specific virus cultures or assays that your doctor may request. In such tests such as a cell culture test or a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, the presence of a herpes virus in a lesion is detected. These tests also help determine the exact type of the herpes infection. A positive result from these tests is normally very accurate.  Diagnostic tests that are not recommended for herpes are the Tzanck test and a pap smear as these do not specifically test for a herpes infection. Still under development are tests that detect the presence of the HSV in urine or saliva. However these tests require further scientific testing before being made available to the general public.

More articles from the Medical Tests Category