What Are the Symptoms of Genital Herpes in Men?

Genital Herpes Is Often Asymptomatic

During an outbreak, characterizing symptoms include ulcers around the genitalia and more ...

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Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Genital Herpes in Men vs Women

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection, that impacts about 12% of people aged 14-49 in the U.S. It is quite a bit less common in men than in women—just over 8% of men have genital herpes, while about 16% of women have it (1). That doesn’t mean men don’t have to worry about genital herpes, though.

Genital Herpes Symptoms in Men

Often, genital herpes is a silent infection, and it is estimated that close to 90% of people with the infection may never be diagnosed or made aware of their infection (2). So, even if you have genital herpes, you may never experience an outbreak and, therefore, may never know you have it. You can infect others even when you are asymptomatic.

If you do know you have genital herpes, though, and/or you’ve already experienced an outbreak, there are some common symptoms you can expect when you have an outbreak.

  • The most common characterizing symptom of a genital herpes outbreak is the presence of open sores (also called ulcers) on and around the penis, testicles, and/or anus.
  • Typically, the first outbreak is the most severe, and you may experience fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes in addition to the ulcers.
  • Subsequent outbreaks typically have less severe symptoms without fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes, and outbreaks tend to become less frequent with time.
  • It’s not uncommon to experience pain or tingling in the penis, testicles, anus, and/or legs prior to an outbreak (3) This is called the prodrome, and it’s the best time to start taking antivirals to abort an episode or shorten it.

If you have genital herpes, we may be able to help. See treatment options from Roman here.


  1. STD Facts – Genital Herpes (Detailed version). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm. Published January 31, 2017. Accessed March 28, 2019.
  2. Fanfair RN, Zaidi A, Taylor LD, Xu F, Gottlieb S, Markowitz L. Trends in seroprevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 among non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites aged 14 to 49 years–United States, 1988 to 2010. Sexually transmitted diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24113408. Published November 2013. Accessed April 9, 2019.
  3. Herpes simplex virus. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus. Published January 31, 2017. Accessed March 18, 2019.

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