How to Test for Herpes Yourself

Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in the United States. There are two strains of herpes: Herpes I (oral) and Herpes II (genital). Most people are unaware that they have Herpes because they don't show symptoms. Most people believe that one has to have symptoms to be transmitting the virus; however, nine out of ten positive people shed the virus "silently" and show no symptoms. Also, it is important to realize that Herpes I can be found not only in the oral cavity but also in the genitals, so the viruses can be in unexpected places. Herpes II, however, is usually confined to the gentail area, and has more frequent recurrences.

Symptoms of Herpes

Vaginal herpes Symptoms:

  • Discomfort or pain while urinating

  • Discomfort in the pelvic floor similar to a bacterial or bladder infection

  • Sores around the urethra, vulva, or vagina

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Flu like symptoms

Penile Herpes Symptoms:

  • Sores around or on the penis

  • Swelling or discomfort in the groin

  • Pain while urinating

  • Flu like symptoms

Anal Herpes Symptoms:

  • Rectal pain or itching

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Rectal discharge

  • Pain during bowel movements

  • Sores around or on the rectal area or thighs

Oral Herpes Symptoms:

  • Sores around or in the mouth

  • Swelling of the lips or mouth

Oral herpes (HSV-I) does not necessarily involve sexual intimacy. People who have oral herpes may have acquired it as a child from non-sexual contact with saliva. It is an STD that is easier to acquire than most. Even using a condom does not fully protect. Intimate skin-to-skin contact can also pass the STD along. An oral STD test kit from SelfCollect can help you identify what is causing your symptoms. 

Tests for Herpes

How to test for herpes:

Blood Herpes Test

Blood tests are one of the options of testing for herpes. Blood tests help to detect antibodies to the HSV virus and tell if you have been exposed at sometime in your life. However, a positive blood test does not mean you are actively shedding the virus. This type of test can differentiate between HSV-I and HSV-II.

DNA Herpes Test

A DNA test is swabbing the symptom area - such as a lesion - for the infection. It is recommended that you should receive a DNA test within the first 48 hours of a lesion appearing. Unlike a blood test, a DNA test will tell you if you are actively shedding the virus. A DNA test can also differentiate between HSV-I and HSV-II..

If you test positive for herpes, it is important to seek treatment as the lesions can become very painful. Having herpes can also lead to inflammation in the anus, buttocks, and cervix. Once you have tested positive for herpes virus, it is common to have several outbreaks.

Reduce Your Risk of Infection

The only true way of not being infected with the herpes virus is by practicing abstinence. Your second option to reduce your risk of infection is by speaking with your partner(s) and having honest communication. While you should be using protection to help prevent other STDs, remember that using protection does not completely protect you from acquiring a herpes infection.

Treatment for Herpes

While there is no cure for herpes, there are medications that can help to reduce symptoms. If you test positive for herpes, it is important to speak with your doctor about medications that can help. The infection can become rather painful and lead to several outbreaks your first year.

Conclusion:

Since HSV-I and HSV-II are very common STDs, it is important to be tested regularly if you are sexually active. Keep in mind that although you may not show symptoms for any STDs, undergoing regular screenings to test for herpes, and other STDs, is important to keep yourself and your partners safe. Today, many people don’t practice safe sex leading to the large spread of STDs. Don’t be embarrassed of screenings as you are protecting yourself! Keep your testing anonymous and to learn how to test for herpes yourself with an at home herpes test kit from SelfCollect.