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Do Condoms Protect From Herpes

Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body

Protecting Against Herpes

The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.

Study: Condoms Could Prevent Herpes

“Up until now, we really did not have any information on the effect of condom use on the spread of genital herpes,” said Anna Wald, M.D., director of the virology research clinic at the University of Washington, Seattle, and lead author of the study.

This lack of information was due to the difficulty associated with studying the effects of condom use in the population at large, she says. Other sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, also tend to garner more attention than herpes.

Condoms Effective to Prevent Spread

“There has been actually very little movement in the public health field to combat the spread of herpes,” Wald said. “There was a perception that we could do very little about it.”

HSV-2, the virus that causes herpes, enters the body through tiny breaks in the skin. The disease is characterized by painful lesions on the genitalia. Once someone is infected, the lesions often recur.

Researchers have been unsure that condom use could prevent the spread of HSV-2 because the virus is usually present over areas of the genital region not protected by condoms.

But Wald found condoms to be an effective means of prevention by studying the sexual diaries of more than 500 couples in a study of a herpes vaccine that did not work. Wald compared the rate of infection in those who used condoms routinely to those who didn’t. She found that of 118 people who used condoms most of the time, only two contracted herpes.

One in Five Americans Infected

What Should You Do If You Receive A Positive Result

The short answer: What your doctor or healthcare professional tells you to do.

If you receive a positive result, the doctor will probs prescribe a dose of antibiotics in the case of curable STIs .

Or they might prescribe a method that can help you manage the symptoms of treatable STIs .

Your move: Take this medication.

The doctor will also tell you to abstain from all or some sex acts for a certain period of time, which you should do in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

Next, its a good move to talk with any past partners youve had that may have also been exposed.

If you have access to the people still, make the call or send the text, Duran says. If you got a gonorrhea diagnosis, for example, and had five partners since your last test, you want to check in with all of to let them know that they may have been exposed, so they can get tested as well.

How to tell a partner about possible exposure

Keep it simple and free of blame or judgment. You might say:

  • Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I got tested for . My doctor recommended that I let any recent partners know, so they can get tested, too.
  • Hi! I went in for my annual STI screening and found out I have . My doctor told me it can be spread even if a condom was used, so you might want to get tested to be safe.

Also Check: How Soon After Exposure To Herpes Can You Get Tested

If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs

No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.

How Does Genital Herpes Spread


Herpes can be spread when an infected person has lesions blisters and open sores on their body or when you do not have any symptoms. Taking antiviral medicine can help you reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partners. You can also:

  • Inform your sexual partner that you have genital herpes.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex.
  • Refrain from having sex when you have symptoms.
  • Abstain from performing oral sex if you have blisters or open sores around your mouth.

Recommended Reading: Can Herpes 2 Be Cured

How Likely Am I To Get Herpes If My Partner Has It

The general rate of transmission of a person who has had herpes to their regular partner is about 10 percent per year, but the annual rate rises if the infected partner is a male. Unfairly, the female partner has a 20 percent chance of becoming infected, while the male partner’s risk is less than 10 percent.

How Effective Condoms Are

When used perfectly, external condoms are estimated to be 98 percent effective. The missing 2 percent here accounts for the fact that some condoms rip or break, according to Gersh.

Most pleasure-seekers, however, dont always put the condom on at the right time, in the right way, or remove it correctly. With typical use, external condoms are 85 percent effective.

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Do Condoms Protect Against Hpv

Using condoms can lower the chances of an HPV infection. But, condoms are not foolproof because they only cover a portion of the genitalia. You can also decrease the chances of getting genital warts by avoiding unprotected sex with many different partners.

Sexual intercourse with people who have a history of genital warts or who have not been vaccinated for HPV should also be avoided to lower your risk of genital warts.

Talk to our specialists about STD testing and treatment for other sexually transmitted infections because the presence of other STIs increases your risk of HPV warts. It is also a good idea to defer becoming sexually active until you are older because sexual activity at a young age is a predisposing factor for HPV infection.

Best Condoms For Herpes Prevention

What You Need to Know About Genital Herpes

Latex condoms are a great option for herpes prevention. Female condoms are also a good option, and since they cover a larger surface than male condoms, they could be even more effective. Its very important to use a condom everytime you have sex if you have herpes, whether youre having an active outbreak or not.

If youre allergic to latex, you can also use condoms made of polyurethane or polyisoprene. Lambskin condoms arent effective for STD protection, and they should only be used to prevent pregnancy in monogamous relationships where both partners have been tested for STDs. You can learn more about convenient, affordable, and easy at-home STD testing at

Recommended Reading: How To Prevent Herpes Outbreaks Naturally

Condoms Help Cut Risk Of Genital Herpes

But Study Shows Disease Can Still Spread Even When Condoms Are Used

Researchers found consistent condom users have about a 30% lower risk of contracting genital herpes than those who never used condoms.

While earlier studies have shown that consistent condom use can substantially reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections , their effectiveness at preventing the spread of herpes simplex virus 2 is less certain.

HSV-2 is the virus that typically causes genital herpes, a lifelong viral infection. Transmission of HSV-2 is mainly from skin contact in areas that may not be covered by a condom.

âAlthough the magnitude of the protective effect was not as large as has been observed with other STIs, a 30 percent reduction in HSV-2 incidence can have a substantial benefit for individuals as well as a public health impact at the population level,â writes researcher Emily T. Martin, MPH, PhD, of Childrenâs Hospital Research Institute and the University of Washington, Seattle in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed information from six studies on condom use and HSV-2 to determine the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the virus the study involved more than 5,000 people.

The results showed that people who used condoms 100% of the time had a 30% lower risk of contracting genital herpes.

Researchers found no significant differences between men and women in the level of protection against genital herpes that condom use offered.

Std Awareness: How Can I Protect Myself If My Partner Has Herpes

ByAnna C.|Sept. 30, 2013, noon

Has your partner, or potential partner, recently informed you that he or she has been diagnosed with genital herpes? After thinking about it, did you decide to continue with the relationship, despite not being infected with the virus that causes genital herpes yourself? Congratulations the two of you are now a discordant couple, which means that one of you has genital herpes and the other doesnt. While you might have come to the conclusion that acquiring a herpes simplex virus infection below the belt wont be the end of the world, you still might want to stay discordant and do everything you can to minimize chances of virus transmission.

Condoms, medication, and abstinence during outbreaks can reduce risk for herpes transmission.

You can read all about herpes elsewhere on this blog, but heres a quick rundown: Genital herpes can be caused by one of two strains of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 or HSV-2. While HSV-1 is more commonly associated with cold sores and HSV-2 is more commonly associated with genital herpes, either virus can infect the genital area. One estimate states that 1 out of 6 Americans between 14 to 49 years of age has a genital HSV-2 infection. Since genital herpes infections can also be caused by HSV-1, the number of people with genital herpes is actually higher.


Herpes Medications

Abstinence During Outbreaks

Patient Education

Other Strategies

Also Check: How Expensive Is Herpes Medicine

Meet Nearby People With Herpes

PositiveSingles is the largest online dating and support community for people with herpes. Online since 2001, it has the largest user base among all the STD dating sites and APPs. You will find out there are plenty of people around you.

Join for free now

Thank you Positive Singles for providing me the avenue to meet my life long Soul Mate, the Love of my Life. It has been a wonderful year since we met and I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Lisa.

It started as a long distance relationship for 6 months but after that we moved in together. Wishing the same for everyone else searching for their mate.

How Effective Is Medication At Preventing Infection

Do Condoms Prevent and Protect Against Herpes?

If you have genital herpes, you will probably be somewhat less likely to infect your partner if you use antiviral medication for prevention. The medications used for this purpose include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. They must be taken every day over a long period of time, though. One study showed that over a period of eight months,

  • 4 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took a placebo, and
  • 2 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took antiviral medication every day.

These couples were also advised to use condoms as well but many didnt use them consistently. So its not clear whether taking antiviral medication can lower the risk of infection even further if you always use condoms anyway, or whether using condoms is just as effective on its own.

Whether or not you would like to use preventive medication is ultimately an individual decision. Many factors can play a role, such as how long you or your partner have had the infection, how frequent and severe the outbreaks are, whether you are male or female, the frequency of sexual contact and whether you use condoms.

Read Also: Frequent Outbreaks Of Genital Herpes

Does It Protect Me Against Stds

What is a condom really meant for then? It can also be used for safer oral sex and used to protect against STDs. Even though you are using other birth control methods, by using a condom you are protecting yourself from spreading or getting STDs. Keep in mind that only latex and plastic condoms protect against STDs and animal membranes such as lambskin does not.

Can Valacyclovir Prevent Herpes Transmission

Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP

Valacyclovir is one of the most common and effective medications used to manage HSV-1 and HSV-2, two variants of the herpes simplex virus. While valacyclovir provides treatment for and management of herpes symptoms, its not a cure for the virus.

However, can it also act as a way of preventing herpes transmission? Scientific data shows that while valacyclovir is helpful in reducing the risk of herpes transmission, it isnt a 100% effective drug for preventing herpes entirely.

In this guide, well look at some of the study data on valacyclovirs effectiveness for preventing herpes transmission, as well as how the drug can be used to reduce your risk of infecting other people if you have HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Smell

Also Check: What Causes Frequent Herpes Outbreaks

Genital Herpes: How Can You Prevent The Spread Of Herpes In Sexual Relationships

Herpes viruses are most likely to be transmitted during an outbreak, so its better to not have sex during this time. Herpes can also be passed on to others in symptom-free phases, though. This risk can be reduced considerably by using condoms.

If you have genital herpes, there are some things you can do on your own to protect your partner from infection. The main things are

  • not having sex during an outbreak,
  • using condoms during symptom-free phases, and
  • talking openly with your partner about the disease.

Preventive treatment with antiviral medication may be an option for people who have genital herpes very frequently. This medication inhibits the activity of the virus, thereby lowering the risk of infecting partners.

Recommended Reading: How Do You Treat Herpes Rash

Preventing Herpes During Pregnancy

How Contagious is Herpes?

If you are an adult, the symptoms of herpes are usually manageable and rarely cause complications. However, herpes is transmitted to a baby before, during, or after childbirth, it can be dangerous.

Even with aggressive treatment, newborns who get herpes often die because they don’t have the immune defenses to fight off the infection, allowing it to spread to the liver, lungs, brain, and other parts of the body.

Neonatal herpes mainly occurs during childbirth as the baby comes into contact with lesions in the birth canal. Less commonly, the virus is passed while the baby is still in the womb or after birth when the newborn comes into contact with a herpes sore.

Since 85% of these infections occur during childbirth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women with active recurrent genital herpes be given suppressive therapy starting at 36 weeks of pregnancy. Doing so can greatly reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the risk of infection.

After childbirth, mothers may need to limit contact with a newborn if an outbreak occurs. They also need to take extra care to wash their hands and any touched objects thoroughly and frequently.

Read Also: Herpes Simplex 2 Support Groups

Does Condom Protect Against Herpes

Unlike many other sexually transmitted diseases, herpes spreads by skin-to-skin contact instead of through bodily fluids. Since condoms don’t cover all areas of potentially infectious skin, they cannot completely stop the spread of herpes.

If you or your partner has herpes, or if you are unsure of a partner’s status, you need to use condoms correctly every time you have sex, even when no symptoms are present. Every unprotected sexual exposure increases the risk of herpes transmission, so the intermittent use of condoms is not effective at prevention. Even if you use condoms, it is best to abstain from sexual contact when you have prodromal symptoms and when you have an outbreak.

People who have herpes are twice as likely to get HIV as people who dont. And people who have herpes and HIV have a much bigger chance of passing HIV to their partners. So its really important to use condoms to help protect yourself and your partner. Read more about herpes and HIV.

Over time, couples in monogamous relationships may decide to forego the condom entirely. Theres nothing unreasonable about that at all, and it all depends on your comfort level in the relationship. As your relationship progresses, talk to your partner so you can make a choice that works for you both.

Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner

Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.

If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.

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How Effective Are Condoms At Preventing Stis

Condoms are the original safer sex method because they reduce the risk of STI transmission. And condoms are also an effective method of birth control. To get the maximum benefit from condoms, make sure to use them from start to finish every time you have sex and that you choose a condom that fits well, covering the shaft from tip to base.

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