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The two herpes simplex viruses, HSV-1 or HSV-2, are the cause of oral and genital herpes 1. Both viruses enter through moist surfaces, such as the mouth, the anus or the vagina, or through small cracks in the skin. After entering, the viruses reside in the nervous system, either close to the ear or at the base of the spine, and can cause a herpes outbreak. There is no scientific evidence for a direct link between testosterone levels and herpes 3. But herpes outbreaks tend to be more frequent around the time of menstruation when testosterone levels are low, suggesting that low testosterone levels may trigger outbreaks 3.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Oral Vs. Genital Herpes
As a rule of thumb, HSV-1 causes oral herpes, or cold sores, whereas HSV-2 causes genital herpes. However, this is only a rule of thumb. Both herpes simplex viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause cold sores and genital herpes 1. Though the former has a slight preference for sites above the waist and the latter has a slight preference for sites below the waist, either virus can lead to sores on both lips and genitals.
- As a rule of thumb, HSV-1 causes oral herpes, or cold sores, whereas HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
Testosterone and the Libido
Signs of Herpes on the Penis
Testosterone is a steroid hormone secreted in the ovaries and adrenal glands in women and in the testes and adrenal glands in men 3. Testosterone is crucial for a healthy sex drive in both men and women 3. When testosterone levels are too low, sexual desire and sperm count go down in men 3. Men may further lose muscle mass and develop feminine body traits. In women, low testosterone levels occur naturally around the time of menstruation and after menopause 34. The lowering of the naturally occurring testosterone levels can give rise to anorgasmia, decreased sexual desire, vaginal dryness, loss of bone and muscle mass and loss of feminine features 3.
Potential Causes of Herpes Outbreaks
No one knows exactly what causes herpes outbreaks. But they tend to occur more frequently in times of stress and sickness and when women are menstruating. Since testosterone levels are lower in women around the time of menstruation, it is possible that low testosterone levels plays a role in triggering herpes outbreaks 3. There may not be a direct mechanism of action underlying this phenomenon. Internal stress associated with menstruation could lower the immune defense, which then could trigger an outbreak.
- No one knows exactly what causes herpes outbreaks.
- Since testosterone levels are lower in women around the time of menstruation, it is possible that low testosterone levels plays a role in triggering herpes outbreaks 3.
Increasing Testosterone to Prevent Outbreaks
What Hormones Are Responsible for Libido?
Since there is no treatment of herpes, the only thing individuals with herpes can do to reduce their discomfort is to prevent the severity and frequency of outbreaks. Keeping the immune system strong is one way to do this. If testosterone indeed is a factor in triggering outbreaks, dietary changes to increase testosterone levels may also potentially prevent outbreaks from occurring 3. Foods that increase testosterone levels include oysters, red meat, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage 3. Some foods decrease testosterone levels by increasing estrogen levels 3. They include non-organic produce, soy products and dairy products.
- Since there is no treatment of herpes, the only thing individuals with herpes can do to reduce their discomfort is to prevent the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
- If testosterone indeed is a factor in triggering outbreaks, dietary changes to increase testosterone levels may also potentially prevent outbreaks from occurring 3.
Signs of Herpes on the Penis
What Hormones Are Responsible for Libido?
Why Do I Get Pimples on the Outside of My Vagina?
Foods to Eat to End Herpes
Bumps on the Edge of the Lips
Differences Between Vaginal Yeast Infection & First Herpes Outbreak
Facial Herpes Symptoms
Is it Possible to Take Vitex With Birth Control?
What Triggers Herpes Outbreaks?
- Herpes: The Truth About HSV-1 and HSV-2
- Mayo Clinic: Menstrual Cycle: What's Normal, What's Not
- Medline Plus: Testosterone
- Menstruation: Libido and Your Cycle
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- Kaiser Permanente. Testosterone results. Updated November 6, 2018.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Testosterone use and male fertility. 2015.
- Harvard Health Publishing. Testosterone - what it does and doesn't do. Updated August 29, 2019.
- Franks S, Hardy K. Androgen action in the ovary. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2018;9:452. doi:10.3389/fendo.2018.00452
- Test ID: TGRP; Testosterone, Total and Free, Serum. MayoClinic Medical Laboratories.
- Testosterone: Drug information. Lexicomp, Inc. UptoDate.com.
- Camacho EM, Huhtaniemi IT, O'Neill TW, et al. Age-associated changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular function in middle-aged and older men are modified by weight change and lifestyle factors: longitudinal results from the European Male Ageing Study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2013;168(3):445-55. doi:10.1530/EJE-12-0890
- Kolettis PN, Purcell ML, Parker W, Poston T, Nangia AK. Medical testosterone: an iatrogenic cause of male infertility and a growing problem. Urology. May;85(5):1068-72. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2014.12.052
- Samplaski MK, Loai Y, Wong K, Lo KC, Grober ED, Jarvi KA. Testosterone use in the male infertility population: prescribing patterns and effects on semen and hormonal parameters. Fertil Steril. 2014;101(1):64-9. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.09.003
- Spritzer MD, Daviau ED, Coneeny MK, Engelman SM, Prince WT, Rodriguez-Wisdom KN. Effects of testosterone on spatial learning and memory in adult male rats. Horm Behav. 2011;59(4):484-96. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.01.009
- van Honk J, Schutter DJ, Bos PA, Kruijt AW, Lentjes EG, Baron-Cohen S. Testosterone administration impairs cognitive empathy in women depending on second-to-fourth digit ratio. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108(8):3448-52. doi:10.1073/pnas.1011891108
Dr. Berit Brogaard has written since 1999 for publications such as "Journal of Biological Chemistry," "Journal of Medicine and Philosophy" and "Biology and Philosophy." In her academic research, she specializes in brain disorders, brain intervention and emotional regulation. She has a Master of Science in neuroscience from University of Copenhagen and a Ph.D. in philosophy from State University of New York at Buffalo.