Genital Herpes Causes, Symptoms and Risks

Genital Herpes Causes, Symptoms and Risks

  • Herpes simplex virus Type II is the leading cause of genital herpes.
  • Herpes simplex virus Type I, which often leads to cold sores on or around the mouth, can also cause genital herpes.
  • Common triggers for flare-ups — once you have the disease — are sexual intercourse, exposure to ultraviolet light, fatigue, injury, extremes in temperature and stress.
  • Menstrual periods may also trigger attacks in women.
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems (like those with AIDS or some other debilitating disease) are more prone to severe flare-ups.


  • Watery blisters on the genitals that burst and become painful open sores/ulcers. Ulcers scab and go away within a few weeks.
  • Blisters around mouth can develop when blisters on genitals appear.
  • Painful, itchy genital area; fever; fatigue; loss of appetite.
  • Pain while urinating for women.
  • Lymph nodes located in the groin often swell up usually during the first attack.
  • Headache may occur if viral meningitis (infection of the membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord) develops. Meningitis is commonly associated with the herpes virus.

References and Sources: Medline, Pubmed, National Institutes of Health

last update: December 2008

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