What is the Presentation of Herpes in Men?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2018
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The most recognizable sign of herpes in men is the presence of bumps or blisters on the genitals or anus. A man may have symptoms before he can see recognizable herpes bumps, however; the skin of a man’s genitals often becomes irritated and reddened before they appear. Eventually, the bumps turn into blisters and may eventually turn into open sores. After a time, the sores usually stop bleeding or oozing fluid and scab over. Once the sores have healed, there may be no other symptoms until the next outbreak, which may happen weeks later or not until months or even years have passed.

Many people believe a man will always have sores on his penis if he has herpes, but this is a misconception. Herpes may cause bumps and sores to develop not only on the penis, but also on the scrotum. Sores can even develop in the anal area and on the affected man's thighs. This means a visual inspection of the penis may not be enough to make sure a sexual partner is free of herpes. It also means condom use may not provide 100-percent protection from this sexually transmitted disease.

It is worth noting that one of the symptoms of herpes in men can be a bump or sore that is hidden from the naked eye. These bumps sometimes form inside a man’s urethra. The urethra is the tube through which urine passes on its way out of the body.


The absence of a bump or sore on the genitals, anus, or surrounding areas does not necessarily mean a man cannot transmit herpes to a sexual partner. It is possible to transmit the virus even when the infected person does not have symptoms and hasn’t had them in quite some time. Additionally, it is possible to spread the virus through both heterosexual and homosexual contact, and it can also be spread through oral sex.

Interestingly, a man may have herpes but be completely unaware that he is infected. This may happen when the initial outbreak is too mild to be noticeable. It may also happen when a man does have a severe initial outbreak but never sees a medical professional for a diagnosis. Since it could be years before he experiences herpes symptoms again, he may not realize he has a sexually transmitted disease.


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Post 9

Me and my boyfriend are already in the fifth year of our relationship.

My boyfriend got herpes on his foot four years ago, and only on his foot. He never had any outbreaks after that, and he never got herpes blisters on his genitals or mouth until now. The doctor said it may be caused by dirty water/dust on his car.

I had an HIV test last month and the result is negative. I do it because I heard about my ex- died because of oral herpes (I heard that from someone). I got panicked and started to feel like I had HIV too. I was so depressed every day then I got some fever, fatigue, joint pain, etc., then

I took the HIV test. Thankfully, I'm negative. The result is 100 percent negative, right?

I've never cheated for these five years, but suddenly, five days ago, I felt itchy near my anus. I thought it was my hair near there, but I felt pain while cleaning that area three days ago, so I took a look in the mirror. I saw scarring/blisters on the natal cleft.

I went to the doctor yesterday and he said it was anal herpes. I told him the last time I did anal was about 10 months ago, and I did penetrate my boyfriend once, two months ago. Mostly we only did oral, kissing and masturbating with his hand this year. Do you think I got anal herpes from my boyfriend's foot herpes a long time ago?

I'm confused about why I got blisters suddenly. I've never experienced any cold sores, blisters or herpes lesion for these five years. Please help me! Thank you!

Post 7

Your symptoms are similar to mine.

I have had Herpes for five years and have had hamstring, calf and foot pain since my initial outbreak. It never goes away, just varies in degree of pain.

I have to be very careful of what I eat. Peanut butter and other sugary snacks make my virus active and my buttocks, leg and feet pay the price, not with visible blisters, but with muscle pain and numbness. I lose feeling in my toes frequently. No, it's not diabetes. I've had many tests for that; it's simply herpes. And it's simply and literally a pain in the butt. Maybe this is where the expression came from? Who knows?

Post 6

My initial outbreak yielded two blisters (straw colored) along with fever and severe back pain. This lasted for four weeks and was absolutely terrible. I was unable to sleep, eat, or have bowel movements for days at a time. My body was in total shock, having never seen the virus before.

Unfortunately, then, for another two years, I had terrible buttocks, hamstring, and calf pain. The theory proposed by my neurologist was that the virus had invaded and done some damage to the sciatic as well as the sacral nerve. My penis remained sore and a bit red for years as well, and I still feel tenderness frequently at the site of the original outbreak.

I have only had one

subsequent "outbreak" that coincided with getting the flu. Otherwise, my body keeps the virus from visibly breaking out. However, I still get terrible buttocks, hamstring and calf pain. Antivirals (in fairly high doses) calm the pain somewhat, but I have to take prescribed medication for pain to function.

The truly scary thing about genital herpes is that no one knows how someone's immune system will actually deal with the virus until you catch it, and then, it is too late. For me, it has been a life-changing experience. I was once lean, athletic and super healthy. Now, I am out of shape, tired all the time and unhealthy.

My advice is to be very careful with your sexual behavior. Your health is not worth a few brief moments of pleasure, is it?

Post 5

Yes, it's most likely herpes.

Post 4

Lets run some probabilities of contraction shall we, on having protected sex using a condom with any given person once. That person would first have to be infected (1/6)- if they are not showing symptoms, they would have to be shedding on the day the sex act occurred (1/10)and the virus would have managed to get around/underneath the condom(2/3) according to the stats I'm seeing.

Given those odds, the chance of contracting it from a lone act of protected sex with any given person who is asymptomatic is in the area of 0.0116 percent. If we assume that the lone act occurred with a promiscuous person, you may argue their likelihood of infection is closer to 4/6, all

else being equal, in which case the likelihood jumps to 4.6 percent.

If you assume that person is infected, but still asymptomatic on the day the act occurred the likelihood is 7 percent. If the person was definitely infected and symptomatic at the time and you did not notice, let's set that probability as 75 percent, then the odds increase to 56 percent. If these numbers are anywhere close, you have a 56 percent chance of contracting HSV from a promiscuous person if they are definitely infected and symptomatic.

Post 3

@alisha-- This article is about genital herpes symptoms in men but there are also other types of herpes which has different symptoms.

Herpes simplex is another type of herpes virus and this causes sores on the face and sometimes the arms and hands. It's mostly seen around the mouth though. Herpes zoster can also show up anywhere on the body, but is usually around limbs.

So where the blisters sores show up is also important. Genital herpes is always around the genitals or anus but could reach inner thighs as well.

Post 2

@burcinc-- You need to get genital herpes testing for a definitive answer on what that might be. No one can tell you that you have it or don't have it simply based on symptoms.

From what you described though, it doesn't sound much like herpes. Of course, herpes symptoms will show some differences in different men. But for the most part, I think herpes sores are very painful and bothersome.

It may not always burst, but it will itch and hurt. I had a roommate in college who had herpes and when he had a breakout, he wouldn't stop complaining about it. It was hard for him to walk or even sit down, it hurt that much.

Plus, I think herpes sores come and go very quickly in a matter of a few days and then take longer to heal. I doubt that the bumps would be around for a week or longer, but I could be wrong. Like I said, make sure to see your doctor.

Post 1

I had several bumps on my genital area last week. They were very small, almost hard to see. There wasn't any pain or itching though and the bumps never burst or anything like that. I put some antibacterial cream on it and it went away after a week.

Do you think I have herpes?

How varied is the presentation of herpes symptoms in men? Is it possible for the visual symptoms to be very different from person to person? For example, is it possible for herpes sores to burst in some people and not in others or itch in some people and not others?

I'd appreciate any comments on this as I'm very worried.

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