If you know that you have had sexual contact with a person infected with genital herpes, or believe you may have, it’s important to get tested. There are several tests for genital herpes, so you will need to discuss the best option with your doctor. A few of the tests you could try are a blood sample, a sample of the ruptured lesion, or a visual inspection of a sample of the cells taken from the lesions.
A blood sample is one way of determining a genital herpes diagnosis that may tell the doctor where you are carrying the virus, (in the oral or genital area); if you will develop any symptoms of genital herpes, and if the symptoms you have been experiencing are causes of genital herpes. The blood test is usually done if you are not currently having an outbreak, but think you might have genital herpes.
A sample of the infected area during an outbreak will tell the doctor if you have genital herpes, and if so, if you have the herpes simplex virus 1 (oral), or the herpes simplex virus 2 (genital). The sample is taken with a swab of an open, or broken lesion. The professionals testing the sample will attempt to grow the virus on the swab. If the virus doesn’t grow, the test result will be negative, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the virus, it only means that it didn’t grow on the swab. If it’s negative, you may or may not have it, but if it’s positive, you most likely do. They may also try to isolate the herpes simplex 2 DNA from the fluid, but the results still have the same stipulations.
The visual test is called a Tzanck test. The cells on the blister fluid will be stained with dye, making any of the cells infected with the virus be easily detected. The cells are examined under a microscope, and results will take up to 2 weeks. The test cannot determine if the infection is type 1 or 2.
Although genital herpes isn’t normally a life-threatening virus (in infants it can be very serious), it is important to get tested. Genital herpes is something that, once you get it you will have it for life. It can be quite annoying, and painful at times. Although it is not curable, it is treatable. With treatment it may be much more livable, and less annoying. You may be able to lessen the number of outbreaks, and control them better.