If you would like to get tested for genital herpes, or have recurrent genital herpes, our doctors can provide you with treatment to get rid of the infection and prevent it from coming back.
You can find more about the genital herpes treatments we offer and how they work below.
Why choose us?
- Your information is reviewed by our doctors to make your treatment is right
- We offer a discreet service with no need for a face to face appointment
- Choose free delivery or collect from your local Asda pharmacy
- Get aftercare and message our doctors via your online account
Genital Herpes Treatment
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a virus known as herpes simplex (HSV). It is passed through vaginal, oral, and anal sex. In the UK, around 23% of adults have been infected with genital herpes, although many do not ever have any symptoms, making it one of the most common STIs.
You are most at risk of catching genital herpes if you have unprotected sexual contact with a partner who has an outbreak. You do not need to have penetrative sex to catch herpes, it can be passed on with any skin to skin contact. You are more likely to catch genital herpes if you have a higher number of sexual partners. Genital herpes can be spread from the genitals, or from cold sores on the mouth.
The main symptoms of genital herpes are:
- tingling, burning, or itching around the genitals
- pain when peeing
- vaginal discharge in women
- small blisters that can burst and leave open sores around the genitals, thighs, bottom, or anus
You can pass on genital herpes even if you do not have any symptoms, especially if you have recently had an outbreak, or if you get outbreaks frequently.
HSV cannot be cured but it can be treated. The first time you get symptoms, you should get treatment from your doctor, after being tested and diagnosed. Once you have genital herpes, it can come back. If you have more than 6 outbreaks a year, you can take suppression treatment, to stop it from coming back as often. You can avoid genital herpes by having protected sex and avoiding vaginal, anal, or oral sex when you or your sexual partner has an outbreak of genital herpes.
You can get tested for genital herpes through our website. Simply fill in a short questionnaire with your symptoms and a doctor will be able to assess this, to see if an STI test is needed. If you do need to take an STI test, you can order one through our website.
You will need to do a swab of your genitals and you may also need to provide a urine (pee) sample. The test will be sent in discreet packaging to your home address and our doctors will give you the results and offer treatment.
Genital herpes treatments help to stop the virus that causes the outbreak (HSV) from multiplying. This helps to stop an outbreak getting worse and to help it heal faster. These are known as antiviral medications. They will not completely get rid of the virus from your body, but will treat the outbreak of genital herpes, helping with symptoms.
For your first outbreak, you will usually need to take a longer course of treatment. After the first outbreak, you can keep some medication to hand so that if you start to notice your symptoms starting again, you can start the treatment as soon as possible. For recurrent outbreaks, you can be prescribed with a suppression treatment, to stop genital herpes from coming back as often. The dosage will be explained to you by your doctor.
Antiviral medication will shorten the outbreak by 1 to 2 days if taken as soon as symptoms begin. You should see the medication working within a few days of treatment but this is different for everyone.
You will get the best effect from antiviral medication if you take it as soon as your symptoms appear, as this stops the virus from reproducing. If you miss a dose, continue taking your medication as normal at the next dose. This may lower the effectiveness.
This antiviral medication is taken 3 times a day for 5 days to treat a genital herpes outbreak. It can also be used to suppress genital herpes, if you have outbreaks more than 6 times a year. For suppression it is taken 2 times a day, for 6 to 12 months. Aciclovir can be used when pregnant and breastfeeding but it is important that you speak to your doctor first.
Valaciclovir can be taken twice a day for 3 days, to treat an outbreak, or as a suppression treatment once daily. The main difference between Aciclovir and Valaciclovir is that Valaciclovir is taken fewer times in a day.
Famciclovir is used to treat genital herpes outbreaks. It only needs to be taken for 24 hours, for example one dose in the morning and one in the evening.
You can get side effects from genital herpes treatments but most of these will go away naturally after a few days. All of the treatments we offer are antiviral medications, which all have similar side effects as they work the same on the body.
The most common side effects of antiviral medications include:
- feeling dizzy
- feeling or being sick
- skin being sensitive to sunlight
You can treat the side effects by resting, drinking plenty of water, and taking Paracetamol. Speak to your doctor if side effects do not go away after a couple of days or they bother you.
Antiviral medications do not have many rare side effects, but these include:
- heart palpitations (feeling the heart thump in the chest)
- fits (seizures)
If you get any rare side effects, stop taking your medication and go to A&E. Some people have allergic reactions to antiviral medication and you should stop taking these straight away and go to A&E if you feel wheezy, get a skin rash, or begin to feel swelling in your face.
Genital herpes treatment should only be taken as prescribed by your doctor. You can use antiviral medication whilst you are pregnant and breastfeeding, as long as your doctor tells you it's okay. Your doses may change slightly if you are.
To make sure your genital herpes treatment is safe to take, speak to your doctor first if you:
- have kidney problems
- are over 65 years old
- have ever had an allergic reaction to any ingredients in the medications
- are pregnant
You should also make sure that none of your current medications interact with your genital herpes treatment.
Speak to your doctor before taking your treatment if you take:
- probenecid, a gout medicine
- medication for asthma, such as theophylline
- cimetidine, a medication for stomach ulcers
- mycophenolate mofetil, a medication for organ transplant patients
Genital herpes should be treated with antiviral medication but there are other things you can do at home to treat the infection and to help with symptoms.
- using an ice pack to soothe the area
- peeing under running water so it is less painful
- cleaning the area often using salt or plain water to stop blisters from getting infected
- applying painkilling cream to the area, making sure to clean hands before and after
- avoiding tight clothing
- avoiding having sex until symptoms have gone
- taking over the counter painkillers
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 31 Aug 2021
Last reviewed: 31 Aug 2021
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(Reviews are for ZAVA UK)