The most recognizable sign of herpes in men is the presence of bumps or blisters on the genitals or anus. A man may have symptoms before he can see recognizable herpes bumps, however; the skin of a man’s genitals often becomes irritated and reddened before they appear. Eventually, the bumps turn into blisters and may eventually turn into open sores. After a time, the sores usually stop bleeding or oozing fluid and scab over. Once the sores have healed, there may be no other symptoms until the next outbreak, which may happen weeks later or not until months or even years have passed.
Many people believe a man will always have sores on his penis if he has herpes, but this is a misconception. Herpes may cause bumps and sores to develop not only on the penis, but also on the scrotum. Sores can even develop in the anal area and on the affected man's thighs. This means a visual inspection of the penis may not be enough to make sure a sexual partner is free of herpes. It also means condom use may not provide 100-percent protection from this sexually transmitted disease.
It is worth noting that one of the symptoms of herpes in men can be a bump or sore that is hidden from the naked eye. These bumps sometimes form inside a man’s urethra. The urethra is the tube through which urine passes on its way out of the body.
The absence of a bump or sore on the genitals, anus, or surrounding areas does not necessarily mean a man cannot transmit herpes to a sexual partner. It is possible to transmit the virus even when the infected person does not have symptoms and hasn’t had them in quite some time. Additionally, it is possible to spread the virus through both heterosexual and homosexual contact, and it can also be spread through oral sex.
Interestingly, a man may have herpes but be completely unaware that he is infected. This may happen when the initial outbreak is too mild to be noticeable. It may also happen when a man does have a severe initial outbreak but never sees a medical professional for a diagnosis. Since it could be years before he experiences herpes symptoms again, he may not realize he has a sexually transmitted disease.