The first signs of genital herpes in men often include a variety of symptoms that can be mistaken for other illnesses or completely overlooked. It is for this very reason that so many newly infected individuals never seek diagnosis, and continue to contribute to the estimated 80% of men who are unaware that they carry the HSV-2 virus. Nonetheless, if you know what you are looking for, it can be relatively easy to identify the early warning signs of infection.
The Prodrome Phase – First Signs of Genital Herpes in Men
Somewhere between three and five days after the herpes simplex virus first enters a man’s body, the first symptoms start to appear. The period (known as prodrome) during which these warning signs appear is often marked by unusual itching, tingling and burning sensations around the genitals and groin region. In many cases, it is also accompanied by the onset of fatigue, mysterious aches and pains (usually in the abdomen and lower back) and flu-like symptoms.
The first outbreak of genital herpes is almost always the worst that a patient will suffer, and many infected men experience an eruption of painful herpes blisters and sores several days after the prodrome phase begins. Unfortunately, for those trying to determine whether or not they have been infected with HSV-2, this obvious tell-tale sign manifests itself in less than 40% of all cases. This means that the remaining 60% of infected individuals do not experience an outbreak of blisters, and may exhibit no further symptoms after the initial tingling and itching sensations, and/or fatigue, etc. has subsided.
How Can I Be Infected Without Showing Signs of Herpes?
Unfortunately, it is very possible to become infected with genital herpes and never show any outward signs of the disease. This is not to say that an infected man will never experience an outbreak or develop symptoms of infection during a recurrent episode, but it does mean that you can carry the virus for extremely long periods of time before becoming aware of it. There have been cases reported where men have carried the virus (and, most likely, infected others with it) for as long as 20 years before exhibiting obvious visual indicators of the disease (namely, blisters and sores).
Preventing the Spread of Genital Herpes in Men
At present, there is no cure for genital herpes in men, although there has been significant progress made toward a vaccine over the past year. Until a cure is discovered, however, preventing the spread of the HSV-2 virus depends on infected men taking a test for herpes that provides them with an accurate diagnosis, and taking the appropriate precautions (condom use, etc.) to protect themselves and their partners from exposure to the highly-contagious disease. These precautions should be followed vigilantly, regardless of whether you have begun to display signs of genital herpes in men.