Herpes symptoms in men can vary greatly from one individual to another, with some men exhibiting obvious signs of infection, while others’ symptoms are so mild that they go unnoticed. Not surprisingly, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that, although one out of every nine American men between the ages of 14 and 49 is infected, nearly 80% of those with genital herpes (or HSV-2) are unaware that they carry the virus.
Most men discover that they are infected with HSV-2 only after they’ve had an initial outbreak of painful, fluid-filled blisters and sores on their genitals. This “primary outbreak” generally occurs within two to 20 days of being exposed to the virus for the first time through sexual contact. Because research shows that fewer than 40% of newly infected men develop blisters, however, it is important to be aware of other commonly experienced herpes symptoms in men (many of which are ignored or misdiagnosed).
The following represents a list of commonly experienced herpes symptoms in men during an outbreak (regardless of whether or not blisters are present):
Irritation of the genitals, groin, buttocks and thighs, accompanied by itching, burning and tingling sensations
Unexplained fatigue, usually accompanied by high temperature, chills, and headaches
Itching or burning sensations present during urination
Sore and swollen glands, often in the groin or throat
Dull aches and pains in the muscle tissue of the groin and lower back
In cases where a genital herpes infection is present, the sudden appearance of these symptoms (particularly within three to five days after sexual intercourse) indicates that the HSV-2 virus has begun replicating itself near nerve clusters under the skin. Men who suffer from outbreaks of blisters and sores will generally experience one or more of these symptoms just prior to the appearance of ulcers. Because the majority of those infected with the HSV-2 virus do not develop blisters or sores, however, these often-overlooked herpes symptoms in men may be the only indication of an outbreak.
Should you realize that you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed in this article, it is recommended that you discuss them with your doctor. The genital herpes virus is highly-contagious, and infection not only dramatically increases your chances of contracting other sexually-transmitted diseases (HIV/AIDS in particular), but is also known to cause risks to infected women during childbirth. There is no vaccine or cure available for the HSV-2 virus, but treatment can lessen both the severity and likelihood of future outbreaks, while simultaneously reducing the risk of you passing the virus on to others.
Genital herpes creates physical discomfort and emotional scars for millions of those affected, and early detection of herpes symptoms in men is crucial to reducing the number of new infections. As Dr. John Douglas of the CDC stated during a 2010 conference call with national media outlets, “The message is herpes is quite common. The symptoms can be often very innocuous. Many individuals are transmitting herpes to others without even knowing it.” His colleague, Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, summed up the issue by saying, “Everyone should be aware of the symptoms, risk factors, and steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of this lifelong and incurable infection.”
Sexually-active Americans have long been aware that the appearance of blisters is a genital herpes symptom in men. Increasing awareness of the infection’s other common symptoms, needs to become a public health priority if we are to one day get this viral epidemic under control.