Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Genital herpes can be spread through kissing.

Genital herpes can be spread through kissing.
beginning of content

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) – the same type of virus that causes cold sores.

As many as 1 in 8 sexually active Australian adults has genital herpes.

Genital herpes can cause outbreaks of blisters or sores on the genitals and anus. Once infected, you can continue to have recurrent episodes of symptoms throughout your life.

There are 2 types of HSV, both viruses can affect either the lips, mouth, genital or anal areas, however:

  • HSV1 commonly causes cold sores on the lips or face.
  • HSV2 causes most genital herpes. 

It is most easily spread when there are blisters or sores, but can still be passed even if a person has no current blisters or sores or other symptoms.

What if I have genital herpes?

If you think you have genital herpes, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis with testing and start treatment.

If you have genital herpes, it is important to always use condoms and dental dams when having sex, even when you have no symptoms. A dental dam is a square of thin latex that can be placed over the vulva or anal area during oral sex. It is safest to avoid sex when you have blisters, sores or symptoms.

Anti-viral medication may help to prevent transmission. Talk to your doctor about this in more detail.

It is also important to tell your sexual partners that you have genital herpes. Your doctor can help you decide who to tell and how to tell them.

What if I’m pregnant?

It's important to tell your obstetrician that you or a partner have had genital herpes, so that they can monitor you for symptoms and manage your pregnancy safely. There is a risk you can pass the virus on to your baby if you have a vaginal delivery during a first attack of genital herpes. If this happens you may be recommended to have a caesarean delivery.

More information

To learn more about genital herpes contact your doctor, sexual health clinic or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

You can also visit Family Planning NSW https://www.fpnsw.org.au

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your genital herpes, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: June 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 177 results

Genital herpes transmission - myDr.com.au

Genital herpes is transmitted (spread) by direct skin-to-skin contact, especially during intimate sexual contact, with a person who is infected with the herpes simplex virus.

Read more on myDr website

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which shows as blisters or sores on the genitals. This is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Read more on WA Health website

Genital herpes: what is it? - myDr.com.au

Genital herpes is a viral infection characterised by outbreaks of blisters and sores around your genital area.

Read more on myDr website

Genital herpes: 10 common myths - myDr.com.au

Find out the truth about some common myths surrounding genital herpes involving cervical cancer, condoms, cold sores and oral sex.

Read more on myDr website

Herpes: your questions answered - myDr.com.au

Your questions about herpes answered, including how do you know if you have genital herpes, how is herpes diagnosed, and do I have to tell my partner if I have herpes?

Read more on myDr website

Genital Herpes | Family Planning NSW

The wart virus is very common. 75% of people from 15 to 49 years of age who are sexually active, have the wart virus, or have had it in the past. Read this factsheet for more info.

Read more on Family Planning NSW website

Herpes - Lab Tests Online AU

The test is looking for evidence of infection by the herpes simplex virus, a common virus that may be sexually transmitted andcauses small fever blisters (vesicles) on the mouth or genitals. There are two types of the herpes virus; HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually causes cold sores and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Herpes treatments - myDr.com.au

Although there is currently no cure for genital herpes (a common STI in Australia), treatments are available that can reduce the severity, frequency and duration of episodes.

Read more on myDr website

Herpes

There are two types of herpes, which cause small, painful blisters. One causes cold sores and is spread through kissing. The other mainly causes genital sores and is spread through sexual contact.

Read more on Department of Health website

Valtrex Tablets - myDr.com.au

Valtrex Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback