Can Genital Herpes Symptoms Take Years to Appear?

by Sofia

Could I have been infected and only show first signs months/years later? I am still waiting for the blood test results but my doctor seemed pretty sure about the diagnosis after visual exam. I have never had these symptoms ever before and last time I had sex was over a month before the symptoms began.


Thank you for submitting your question and sharing with our community. I'm positive (pun intended) that there are many other herpes brothers and sisters in our community that will benefit from it and hopefully my answer will be helpful to all.

With that being said, let's jump right in shall we?

The simple answer to your question is yes. According to the medical experts, it is possible that an infection can occur and not show noticeable signs or symptoms for months and yes, even years later. The primary reason for this is that their immune system can naturally suppress the herpes virus symptoms.

Although HSV is a complex virus it is also a very simple virus too. The actual fight is between the virus and your body's immune system.

Therefore, someone with a strong immune system living a relative healthy lifestyle (proper diet and exercise) and low stress (both physical and mental) could go for quite some time before experiencing any HSV symptoms.

I recently read an article where a widow of more than 20 years had a genital herpes outbreak. The most interesting thing about this story was that she claimed to not have had sex since the passing of her husband.

Additionally, research has shown that more than 80% of the population of the United States would test positive for HSV-1 or cold sores and never experience an outbreak.

With that being said, there are not a whole lot of people living the ideal lifestyle to continuously suppress the virus. Eating the proper diet, physical and mental stress, UV light and even the common cold can place stress on the body enough to provide the virus a "highway" to the surface of the skin.

I believe (and this is just my belief and not backed by research or studies) a more likely scenario is that people do actually experience herpes outbreaks but they may have been so mild that they were overlooked or dismissed as another condition.

Think about it for a moment...if I'm not aware that I have the HSV virus or if I'm not aware of ever being exposed to the virus and then I develop a headache or have flu-like symptoms would I even think that I'm getting ready to have an outbreak? The answer is no.

Now let's say that I live a reasonably healthy lifestyle without a lot of stress and have a strong immune system. And I develop a small sore around my lips or in the genital area. My first thought (especially if it's been quite some time since I've had sex or kissed someone) is not that I have herpes. My initial thought might be that I have a pimple, an ingrown hair or something similar. Then in 7 to 10 days it's gone and forgotten about until my immune system is weakened and another pimple arises again. Now this scenario would be completely different if the outbreak were more severe than a bump or two.

Now let's take those same scenarios above and add in the fact that I just read an interesting article on the characteristics of the virus that causes herpes. Now my senses are more open to the possibility that my "pimple" may be something more.

In my opinion, the research and studies that have been done on this topic are simply not very reliable because it relies in part, on people's ability to recall "ever" having symptoms rather than solely based on scientific matters that can be more accurately measured. I also believe that there may be other factors at play here that makes the studies subjective. But that's another story.

Wishing you success and happiness!

May Peace Be With You,


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