Genital herpes

In a nutshell

  • This is an infection caused by the herpes simplex type 1 or type 2 virus.
  • Type 1 occurs mainly in the mouth (burning sensation), but it can also be transmitted to the genital organs.
  • Type 2 occurs mainly in the genital organs but very rarely in the mouth as well.
  • Type 1 or type 2 genital herpes is transmitted:
    • during sexual intercourse whether the penis penetrates the mouth, the vagina or the anus or not;
    • during intimate contact (skin-to-skin) with an infected person whether he or she shows lesions or not;
  • The infection is highly contagious whether the symptoms are apparent or not.

Symptoms and complications

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Very often, someone infected with genital herpes does not show any symptoms or if they have any, these are often attributed to other causes.

If symptoms show up, they are as follows:

  • small painful ulcers located near the genital region, for example, on the genital organs, the anus, the thighs, the buttocks and the interior of the vagina.

Possible consequences for health:

  • The ulcers can reappear throughout the infected person’s lifetime.
  • The frequency and the intensity of the infection vary from one person to another.
  • Genital herpes can increase the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV.

Screening and treatment

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  • A detection test is only possible when lesions are visible.
  • If lesions are not present, a diagnosis cannot be made.


  • There is no effective treatment to cure herpes.
  • Medications can:
    • relieve the symptoms;
    • reduce the length of time that – and the frequency with which – lesions appear;
    • reduce the risk of transmission.


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  • When you have sexual intercourse, use a condom.
    • A condom must be used before any contact of the penis with the mouth, the vagina or the anus.
    • A condom must be used from start to finish of sexual intercourse.
  • Even if a condom is used, transmission continues to be possible for infected areas such as the thighs, the buttocks, the testicles, etc. In other words, the areas that aren’t covered by the condom.
  • Because herpes cannot be cured, it is important to notify your partners that you are infected. Transmission is possible even if you don’t show any visible lesions and you are using a condom.

In terms of figures :

2008 the beginning of vaccination against HPV among girls in Quebec

Getting help

To get a screening test

  • Call Info-Santé 8-1-1
  • Talk it over with the nurse in your school or CLSC
  • Talk it over with your doctor


For any
other question

Consult Tel-jeunes

Tel-Jeunes Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux