Herpes Symptoms in Men

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). While many individuals have minimal symptoms or may not even be aware that the symptoms are cause for concern, if left untreated herpes can cause infection in other parts of the body. While more women than men get infected with the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that transmission is more likely to occur by an infected man infecting his female partner than the reverse.


Many patients experience a tingling sensation during their first herpes outbreak. This sensation usually is felt around the genitals, buttocks and thighs between seven and 14 days following exposure. Small clusters of tiny red bumps may appear, which will eventually develop into blisters and then open sores.


As the outbreak progresses over the next two to three weeks, more blisters can appear. These will eventually rupture and cause open sores that can itch, ooze and become painful. These sores dry out and develop a crust. Within a few days healing is complete, at which point the pain and itch cease. Additionally, the skin is left scar-free.

Flu-like Symptoms

According to the University of Maryland Medical System website, 40 percent of men develop flu-like symptoms in addition to the above mentioned symptoms during an initial outbreak. These can include muscle and body aches, fever and headache, and swollen glands that can occur in the groin and/or neck.

Recurring Outbreaks

Men should expect between four and five outbreaks with the above-mentioned symptoms during the first year following the first episode of genital herpes, according to the CDC. After this, recurrences usually decrease in frequency and in intensity. This lower level of intensity is due to the fact that the virus sheds for a much shorter period of time, lasting three days compared to an initial outbreak period of three weeks. In addition, the type of virus that you are infected with will impact the frequency of recurrence. HSV-2 type herpes tends to cause more recurrences than HSV-1, according to the University of Maryland Medical System website.

Initial versus Recurrent Outbreak Symptoms

Symptoms can vary greatly, according to the University of Maryland Medical System website, and are largely dependent on if this is a first herpes outbreak or a recurrent one. The first or primary outbreak is usually worse than recurrent outbreaks, although a majority of new herpes infections do not trigger symptoms. The website also states that between ten and 25 percent of those infected are unaware of their condition.

About this Author

Virginia Franco is a freelance writer with more than 15 years’ experience. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine “My School Rocks” and Work.com. Franco has a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland.