017: #askalexandra Do The Herpes Sores Only Show Up On Your Genitals?

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Ask, Answer & Get The Facts About Herpes

Welcome to episode 17 of Life With Herpes! This show is another terrific #AskAlexandra edition, dedicated to answering one question from a listener.

Britney from Birmingham, Alabama wrote in to ask if the sores only appear on genitals. Terrific question Britney, thanks for sending it in. To hear the answer join me on episode 17 of Life With Herpes.

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Again thanks to Britney from Birmingham for this question. She wants to know if the herpes sores only show up on genitals during an outbreak. I like this question because the answer is different than what I thought it was before I had herpes.

Before I got herpes and was diagnosed, I thought the sores would only be on a man's penis and near the opening of the woman's vagina. Anywhere else I didn't think the sores would appear. Now I know differently.

The short answer is no, the sores don't just show up on your genitals.

To give you a longer answer let’s breakdown what the sores look like: you can have a single sore or you can have clusters of sores (a group of blisters). The sores are painful, some can be extremely painful. And they can get to the point of being filled with fluid.

In men the sores can appear inside the penis (inside the urethra, the hole where a man urinates or ejaculates from). Sores can be on the penis, the scrotum, thighs, around the anus, groin and buttocks. So for men, genital herpes sores can show up anywhere in the genital region.

For women these blisters can show up on the labia (the outer flaps/lips of the vagina), inside the vagina in the vaginal canal, on the groin, the thighs, buttocks and on the anus. It's not as common to have the sores inside the vaginal canal but it can happen.

And because of oral sex it is possible to get genital herpes inside the mouth, on the lips and on the tongue. Again it's not very common, but it's possible. When it's inside the woman’s vaginal canal it can be very painful, it can inflame the cervix and it feels extremely uncomfortable. I assume the same is true for men when they have blisters inside their penis!

If you think about evolution this all makes sense: the herpes virus wants to survive so while it prefers the genitals, it will also pop up around the genitals, too.

Tweetable:  “The herpes virus wants to survive.” - Alexandra Harbushka


Which gets us into the big myth of condoms stopping the transmission of herpes. The sores are on other areas of the body and if that area comes into contact with another body they can be transmitted that way, even if you're using a condom on the man's penis. If he has a sore on other areas aside from his penis those sores can transmit the virus.

Have questions of your own? If you want to send them to me go to LifeWithHerpes.com and scroll down to the bottom where you'll see the #AskAlexandra section and click on that. Fill out the Google form with your question. Remember you can remain anonymous if you want;. I only use your first name and your city, but if you want complete anonymity I will do that for you!

Want to join the conversation about this or any other herpes-related topic? Join the secret Facebook group and continue chatting there, after you’ve listened to episode 17 of Life With Herpes.


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