What Is My Risk Of Spreading Herpes Herpes Transmission Risk
Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
One of the most common questions we receive is about herpes transmission and the risk of spreading the virus to a new partner.
HSV1 & HSV2 is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact not bodily fluids, blood, surfaces, towels, bedding, toilets, or otherwise, just skin-to-skin contact. From there, inoculation must also occur for the infection to spread, and this happens via a point of entry into the system. Coming in contact with the virus on your arm, for example, wont necessarily lead to infection, unless your arm also has a small cut, abrasion, sore, or tear providing entry for the virus into the human body inoculation.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
Duration Of Genital Herpes
The first episode of genital herpes usually begins with inflammation, followed by a small group of blisters that break and weep after a few days and eventually crust over and heal. The first outbreak is usually the worst and ends within about three weeks. The CDC recommends antiviral medication for everyone having a first outbreak of genital herpes.
After the initial outbreak, outbreaks tend to last for less time and have less severe symptoms. Research has indicated that the number of symptomatic outbreaks may decrease over time.
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Does A Cold Sore On My Mouth Mean I Have Genital Herpes
No, a cold sore on your mouth usually means you have herpes simplex virus type 1 . You can get HSV-1 by kissing someone or sharing utensils, towels, razors, or lipstick with someone who has HSV-1.
HSV-1 cannot turn into HSV-2 , but you can get a cold sore on your mouth from HSV-2 if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2. Cold sores caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2 are contagious. You can spread it to other people or other parts of your body if you touch an open sore and then touch another part of your body. That means if you have a cold sore and give oral sex to someone, that person will get the herpes virus on his or her genitals.
Avoid touching your cold sore as much as possible. If you touch your cold sore, wash your hands right away to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body or other people.
What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
It is important to avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. A first episode during pregnancy can create a greater risk of transmission to a newborn.
Fortunately, it is rare for women with genital herpes to infect their babies. If you know that you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, a C-section may be recommended. Depending on individual diagnosis, though, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses suppressive therapy to reduce the frequency of C-section.
How To Tell Your Partner About The Herpes
Most people feel that their love lives are over once they discover they have herpes. Well, that is not the truth. Herpes patients have romantic relationships with one another or with persons without the STI.
Having conversations about STDs is not fun, but it is essential to tell your partner if you are infected. That way, you might prevent the condition from spreading.
Here are practical tips that might help to talk about it:
- Remain calm: Having the STI is a health condition and does not mean you are promiscuous. Therefore, go into the conversation with a positive and relaxed attitude. You can start the conversation by asking your partner if they have even had or been tested before.
- Know the facts: Be sure to read all the facts. It will help you let your sexual partner know there are methods to manage the condition and prevent transmission.
- Timing: Choose a time when you will not be interrupted or distracted and in a private place. If you are anxious, you can first talk through your friend or practice speaking in front of a mirror. It helps you know what you are confident in saying.
- If you think your partner might injure you, you can tell them using a phone call, text message, or email.
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Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
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.
Ask Your Partner If They Have Ever Had A Sexually Transmitted Disease
Most people who have genital herpes dont know theyre infected, so ask whether they have had any other sexually transmitted disease. People with a history of STDs are more likely to have genital herpes.
It may be awkward, but its important to be honest with each other. Your partner may be afraid to tell you the truth if they fear a negative reaction. If your partner feels comfortable talking with you, youll be more likely to get straight answers.
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How Common Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year.1 Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection .2 However, the prevalence of genital herpes infection is higher than that because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. 3 Oral HSV-1 infection is typically acquired in childhood because the prevalence of oral HSV-1 infection has declined in recent decades, people may have become more susceptible to contracting a genital herpes infection from HSV-1. 4
HSV-2 infection is more common among women than among men the percentages of those infected during 2015-2016 were 15.9% versus 8.2% respectively, among 14 to 49 year olds. 2 This is possibly because genital infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men during penile-vaginal sex. 5 HSV-2 infection is more common among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites . 2 A previous analysis found that these disparities, exist even among persons with similar numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Most infected persons may be unaware of their infection in the United States, an estimated 87.4% of 14 to 49 year olds infected with HSV-2 have never received a clinical diagnosis. 6
The age-adjusted percentage of persons in the United States infected with HSV-2 decreased from 18.0% in 19992000 to 12.1% in 2015-2016. 2
What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses
Herpes is a group of contagious viruses. All of these viruses cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:
- Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on lips, gums, tongue and inside the mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
- Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
- Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.
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How Can You Catch Herpes
Like most sexual transmitted infections , herpes is passed on when someone with an active outbreak of the virus has sexual intercourse with a partner. It may also be spread by contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, including blood, saliva, vaginal fluid, semen or any fluid expelled from a weeping herpes blister.
The virus is passed onto the other person through tiny breaks in the mucous membranes or skin. Because viruses are very small, herpes can easily spread even if the breaks are only microscopic. This means you cannot conduct a visual inspection of a partner and guarantee that they will not catch the disease.
It is also worth noting that while the virus is generally passed on during the phase when the blisters are visible on the skin, there is also the possibility of infection spreading even when blisters are not showing.
This is due to something called asymptomatic shedding. This is where the virus continues to shed into bodily fluids even when dormant. This kind of shedding is most common during the first 12 months of herpes infections. However, it may continue throughout the life of the infection and you cannot guarantee that because you have no visible sores that your partner will not be infected.
In a monogamous relationship, a female partner carries a substantially higher risk of contracting herpes from an infected male partner than vice-versa.
How Does Herpes Infection Spread
Herpes infections are highly contagious and can spread easily from one person to another by skin-to-skin contact or using common objects like utensils, toothbrushes. It also spreads by sexual contact. HSV or the herpes simplex virus is responsible for causing the Herpes infections.
Herpes is responsible for causing sores in the mouth and/or the genital areas. Herpes can be painful, but usually does not cause any serious health conditions In this article, we will be discussing in detail about the Herpes Infection and how it spreads.
- What is Herpes Infection?
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Can Genital Herpes Come Back
Yes. Genital herpes symptoms can come and go, but the virus stays inside your body even after all signs of the infection have gone away. The virus becomes active from time to time, leading to an outbreak. Some people have outbreaks only once or twice. Other people may have four or five outbreaks within a year. Over time, the outbreaks usually happen less often and are less severe.
Experts do not know what causes the virus to become active. Some women say the virus comes back when they are sick, under stress, out in the sun, or during their period.
Clinical Trials For Herpes Vaccines Ongoing
While there have been some promising trials of herpes vaccines, to date, no human trials have shown high enough efficacy to bring a herpes vaccine to market.
People who have recurrent herpes may use the same medications that are recommended for symptomatic outbreaks when characteristic tingling and pain develops. In these situations, the medication course is started immediately to stave off or reduce the severity of an episode.
Suppressive therapy, involving the daily use of antiviral to prevent an outbreak reoccurrence, can reduce ones symptoms and the amount of viral shedding. This can be quite helpful, particularly in combination with reliable condom use.
If you are an adult, the symptoms of herpes are usually pretty manageable and only rarely cause complications. However, herpes can be very dangerous if it is transmitted to a growing baby during pregnancy.
If you have genital herpes and are pregnant, or if you are sexually involved with someone who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about managing the risks.
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Can Women Who Have Sex With Women Get Genital Herpes
Yes. It is possible to get genital herpes, or any other STI, if you are a woman who has sex only with women.
Talk to your partner about her sexual history before having sex, and ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested if you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes. Use a dental dam during oral sex and avoid sexual activity during an outbreak.
What Is Herpes Ii
Herpes II is a sexually transmitted viral infection, which often produces painful sores, usually in the genital area. Once infected, an individual may carry the virus and be subject to recurrent bouts of infection. Some estimate that as many as 20 percent of the adult population in the United States has been exposed to the virus.
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What Is Herpes Infection
Herpes infection is a viral infection that causes sores around the mouth or lips or sores near the genitals or rectum region . It is caused by Herpesvirus . It spreads through oral secretions or sores via kissing or sharing common objects like toothbrushes, utensils or sexual intercourse, etc.
The sores or blisters in herpes infections can break and are painful. Treatments for herpes infections are aimed to reduce the pain and other symptoms and reduce the healing process duration. Medications are the main line of treatment.
Find An Experienced Ob
As previously mentioned, most people living with herpes don’t realize that they have the virus. The virus is classified into two: herpes simplex virus type 2 and herpes simplex virus type 1. It is transmitted by sexual contact, contact with infected saliva, or mouth-to-mouth contact. While the symptoms come and go, these types of herpes are incurable and contagious. Also, the virus does not always show symptoms, so getting tested is essential. The qualified gynecologists at All Women’s Care in Los Angeles can test you and assist you in managing the virus. To learn more about herpes and how we can help you, call us today at .
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Tips To Soothe The Pain
- Take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
- Place lukewarm or cool cloths on the sore place.
- Take lukewarm baths.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If your sex partner has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.
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Oral Sex Cold Sores & Genital Herpes Infection
Susan Olender, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine. She is an assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, where she is also on staff in the Division of Infectious Disease.
Many people are not aware that cold sores or fever blisters are the symptoms of oral herpes. Nor do they realize that the virus that causes these sores is extremely closely related to the virus that causes genital herpes.
Thatâs why people with oral herpes often unknowingly transmit their cold sores to their partnerâs genitals during oral sex. Ironically, the person with cold sores may even unfairly blame their partner for getting infected. They may not realize they are the source of their partnerâs infection.
Can I Have Genital Herpes And Not Know It
Yes. Not everyone with genital herpes experiences noticeable symptoms. Mild cases often go unnoticed. And a single sore can be confused with an ingrown hair, razor burn, or even just minor irritation.
Its important to keep this in mind if youre sexually active, since you or your partner may have genital herpes but not know it. And its still possible for someone to spread the virus to their partner even if they dont have any sores. Although active sores do increase the risk of transmitting the infection.
It also helps to understand that there are two types of herpes: herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2 . HSV-2 more commonly causes genital herpes. HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, but some cases of genital herpes are due to HSV-1. This may be the case if the virus is spread from the mouth to the genitals during oral sex. Both types may cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms.
If you think that you may have been exposed or infected, its important to know what to look out for. By knowing the signs and symptoms, you may be able to prevent transmission.
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