Genital Herpes Medication: Types, Benefits & Considerations

Monali Sharma
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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genital herpes medication

Nearly 11% of the global population between 15 and 49 years old live with Genital Herpes.

It is a common STI caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).

It can manifest as primary or recurrent outbreaks.

Genital Herpes medications are typically prescribed as episodic or suppressive therapy. 

Episodic therapy is taken during outbreaks, while suppressive therapy involves daily medication to prevent recurrent episodes.

This article discusses the treatment options that would help to mitigate symptoms, reduce outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission.

It would help people understand which might be the right Genital Herpes medication for them.

Antiviral medication for Genital Herpes

Various antibiotics in packetsSource: Denisfilm_From_Getty_Images
Various Antiviral in packets

Antiviral drugs are the mainstay of treating Genital Herpes. 

These medications were studied to prevent further outbreaks in 50 out of 100 people within one year. 

People with very frequent Herpes outbreaks also benefit from preventive treatment.

They shorten the duration of outbreaks, alleviate pain and discomfort, and decrease the frequency of recurrences. 

Standard first-line drugs include Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir.

These medications must be taken daily for about ten days (as WHO recommends).

Additionally, they must be taken daily for a long period to prevent recurrences and lower the risk of infecting others.

However, these medications do not eradicate the latent virus or affect the risk, frequency, or duration of shedding.

Herpes can be caused by two different kinds of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-2 causes most cases of Genital Herpes that come back.

Treatment for first-episode Genital Herpes

For patients experiencing their first episode of Genital Herpes, antiviral therapy is highly recommended.

The treatment goals are to treat or stop symptoms and lower the chance that the disease will be passed on to partners.

An individual can take

  • Acyclovir (400 mg orally three times a day for seven to ten days)
  • Famciclovir (250 mg orally three times a day for seven to ten days)
  • Valacyclovir (1 gm orally twice a day for seven to ten days)

If healing is not complete after ten days of therapy, treatment might be continued.

Clinical management must include counseling concerning the natural history of Genital Herpes, the dangers of sexual and perinatal transmission, and strategies for preventing transmission.

Do not share sex toys or have sex if you or your partner have blisters, sores, or a tingle or itch that indicates an outbreak. The first tingling or itching of a fresh infection spreads Genital Herpes.

Treatment for recurrent Genital Herpes

Treatment choices for recurrent infection are comparable to those for first-episode Genital Herpes, with medication chosen based on a person’s disease profile, sexual behaviors, and psychological needs.

People with infrequent or mild recurrences may choose episodic treatment.

At the same time, chronic suppression can be valuable for patients with more frequent or severe recurrences.

To prevent neonatal Herpes, mothers with a history of Genital Herpes should get antiviral prophylaxis with Acyclovir from 36 weeks gestation until birth.

However, most cases of HSV infection reproduce subtle signs and symptoms, or more commonly, asymptomatic viral shedding.

Therefore, people should be educated on the atypical and subtle signs of Herpes outbreaks and informed about the high incidence of asymptomatic viral shedding.

Side effects and considerations

Nausea – side effectSource: AndreyPopov_from_Getty_Images
Nausea – Side effect

Side effects of antiviral medications are generally rare.

Still, they can vary depending on the specific medication and the individual’s response to therapy. 

Therefore, while generally well-tolerated, antiviral medications may have side effects affecting some users.

Side effects of these medications can vary depending on the specific drug, 

Still, some common side effects include headache, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.

Some people can try OTC painkillers to decrease discomfort and pain.

Reduce discomfort and pain caused by Genital Herpes easily and safely.

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Visiting a doctor for personalized advice on managing side effects and potential interactions with other medications is essential.

Regular follow-up appointments and monitoring of treatment progress are also crucial for ensuring the safe and effective use of antiviral medications.


Millions of individuals worldwide are afflicted with Genital Herpes, a prevalent STI.

The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is the common cause of Genital Herpes. 

Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir are examples of antiviral drugs that form the mainstay of treatment for the condition.

These medications can help mitigate symptoms, reduce outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission. 

It is strongly advised that individuals experiencing their first episode of Genital Herpes consider antiviral medication.  

For people with recurrent Genital Herpes, antiviral therapy can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. 

It’s crucial to see a doctor for tailored guidance on how to handle side effects and any drug interactions.

With the right care and prevention techniques, people with Genital Herpes can lead happy, healthy lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best medication for Genital Herpes?

The best medication for Genital Herpes is subjective and varies among individuals. Commonly prescribed antiviral medications such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Famciclovir effectively manage symptoms and reduce outbreaks. Consultation with a doctor is vital to deciding the ideal medication based on individual circumstances and medical history.

Can you buy Genital Herpes medication over the counter?

No, Genital Herpes medication is typically available only by prescription. Antiviral medications like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Famciclovir, which effectively manage symptoms and reduce outbreaks, require a healthcare provider’s prescription for proper evaluation and personalized treatment. Over-the-counter options may relieve symptoms but are not a substitute for prescribed antiviral medications.

How much is Genital Herpes medication?

Genital Herpes medication costs vary based on factors like the specific drug, dosage, and insurance coverage. Without insurance, generic antiviral medications may range from $15 to $30 for a 30-day supply. At the same time, brand-name drugs can be significantly more expensive. Insurance plans often help offset these costs.

Can Genital Herpes be cured completely?

No, Genital Herpes cannot be cured completely. While antiviral medications effectively manage symptoms, reduce outbreaks, and lower transmission risk, they do not eliminate the virus. Treatment focuses on symptom control and prevention, but the virus remains in the body, requiring ongoing management.

How does having Genital Herpes affect a pregnant woman and her baby?

Genital Herpes can pose risks during pregnancy. For a woman with Herpes, a cesarean section may be recommended to prevent transmission to the baby. In rare cases, Herpes can cause complications, such as neonatal Herpes, which can be severe or even life-threatening for the infant. Regular medical supervision is crucial.

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