Physical Exam for Genital Herpes

A physical exam for genital herpes is the most common way that doctors will use to diagnose your condition. Although it’s one of the most frequently used, it’s also the least accurate. A medical doctor, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or Registered Nurse who has been trained in Sexually Transmitted Disease’s (STD) are the professionals who usually performs the physical examination.

The examiner will verbally discuss with you your health history as it relates to the course of your signs and symptoms and the best herpes test that may be right for you.

In order to be familiar with your symptoms and provide an accurate evaluation, your doctor will have to know as much sexual information as possible such as; what type of sexual practices you are currently participating in and have participating in the past (oral sex, vaginal sexual intercourse, anal sex).

Although it’s certainly good to know that the people who work in the medical profession have seen nearly every possible STD imaginable, it can be extremely embarrassing for some people to discuss their sexual habits with a doctor. This is especially true if you have been a patient for a long period of time. This is also the most common reason that people who are experiencing genital herpes symptoms don’t seek out a physical exam for genital herpes. But remember, it is necessary that all of the requested information be provided as honestly and completely as possible.

Physical Exam for Genital Herpes

After you have truthfully answered all those embarrassing questions and feel worse than you did when you arrived, your doctor will look for different signs such as blisters, redness and swelling in your genital area. A pelvic examination of the internal reproductive organs is ordinary performed on women. If genital blisters are found and they are painful, your doctor may want to do away with the internal part of the exam until symptoms and pain lessen.

During a typical physical exam for women, the external genitalia, vagina, and cervix will be checked out for open sores, blisters and unusual discharge. In men, the penis, anus and scrotum will be examined for sores.

Both men and women should both have a physical exam for genital herpes in and around the rectum, on the thighs, buttocks, the pubic hair area, and in and around the mouth. Your doctor will also check your lymph nodes in your genital area for swelling and tenderness.

If genital blisters are not present, a physical exam will not provide an accurate herpes diagnosis or rule out an infection. Standard medical protocol suggests that additional laboratory blood tests for herpes should be conducted to confirm the diagnosis made by your doctor.

Studies have been conducted and shown that up to 20% of doctors incorrectly identify genital blisters, and unusual discharges as genital herpes based solely on a clinical exam.

Always insist on lab test in addition to a physical exam for herpes.


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