A healthcare provider can complete testing for genital herpes through swabs, blood testing, and visual diagnosis.
The incubation period for genital herpes is typically 2-12 days. Testing for HSV too early (before the 12 day mark) can result in a negative test result, even if you have the virus. If you suspect you've been exposed to genital herpes:
Common methods for testing genital herpes include swabs, blood testing, and visual examination by a healthcare provider.
The most common testing method in Canada is swabbing the lesion’s surface and sending it to a lab for testing. This cell culture test can determine whether HSV-1 or HSV-2 caused the genital herpes infection.
Swab testing is most likely to detect HSV when completed within 72 hours of symptoms first appearing.
Getting regular STI tests is a critical way to prevent infection or reinfection of sexual partners.
Your family physician and most walk-in medical clinics can perform genital herpes testing. Testing for genital herpes is not standard in STI screenings, so make sure to mention to your healthcare provider that you may have been exposed.
Sexual health testing facilities are also available to perform screening and treatment:
[Link to sexual health resources]
Test results for genital herpes swabs and blood tests can vary but usually take about seven days. During that time, abstain from all sexual contact.
What should you do if you've been exposed to genital herpes? We discuss what the next steps are if you've possibly gotten in contact with genital herpes.
Genital herpes symptoms can be treated. Find out more how Canadians can treat and manage their genital herpes infection.