Everything You Need To Know About Herpes And Sex
Herpes infects more people worldwide than any other sexually transmitted infectionand it spreads through a simple equation: One partner has the virus. Another partner doesn’t. Any sexual contact between the two can infect the uninfected.
The virus most easily enters the body through a break in the skin, Glatt sayssay, an abrasion from rough sex, a cut in your mouth, or a sore from another condition. However, herpes can also slip through the body’s normal defenses, especially through mucus membranes in the mouth, eyes, genitals, or rectum.
There’s no cure for herpesand though your risk of spreading it tends to decrease over the years, it’s still possible for you to infect a partner. Here’s what you need to know to avoid sharing more than you bargained for.
Sex Isn’t The Only Way to Test PositiveIf your doc gives you a herpes diagnosis, make sure you’re clear on exactly what you have, Glatt says. There are eight types of herpes simplex virus. One type, HSV-2, causes most cases of genital herpes. Another, HSV-1, most often causes cold soresbut perhaps due to all the great oral we’re giving and receiving, type 1 is increasingly causing genital infections too.
If you gave every American a blood test, nine out of ten would have some evidence of infection with one of the eight types, Glatt says. But only about one in six has genital herpes.
How Is Genital Herpes Spread
- Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection
- Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection
- Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes or
- Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.
If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
Can I Catch Herpes Simplex Off Towels Cups Or Anything
No, you will not catch it off anything. The virus is caught from the skin, not from objects. It is a delicate virus and dies quickly when away from the skin where the sore is. There is more about transmission in our Transmission leaflet available to members. This statement is taken from the guidelines for doctors produced by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
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Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
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.
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Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
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.
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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.
Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
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What Are The Risk Factors That Can Lead To Herpes Infections
Herpes virus can be present latent and herpes infection symptoms or attacks can occur under the following conditions-
- Fatigue or tiredness due to underlying health conditions
- General prolonged illness
? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment )
Apart from herpes infection, blood in urine may be associated with certain drugs, strenuous exercises, uterine problems, bladder cancer, prostate disorders, etc. In case the patient has prostate disorders like prostate hyperplasia or prostate tumor that causes severe abdominal pain, blood in urine, the patient is advised to get Prostate Surgery done. There are many renowned hospitals and doctors in India where Prostate Surgery is done with great expertise.
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 through sexual contact.
HSV or the herpes simplex virus is responsible for causing 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 the Herpes Infection and how it spreads.
- What is Herpes Infection?
- How does Herpes Infection Spread?
- What are the types of Herpes infections?
- What are the causes of Herpes Infection?
- What are the risk factors that can lead to Herpes Infections?
- What are the symptoms of Herpes Infection?
- How to diagnose Herpes Infections?
- What are the treatments for Herpes Infection?
- What are the outcomes of Herpes Infection?
- How to prevent Herpes Infection?
- What are the complications of Herpes Infections?
- Frequently asked questions about Herpes infections
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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.
Prevalence Of Oral Hsv1 Cold Sores
In theory, oral HSV1 is the most easily acquired infection, because it is usually the first herpes simplex type someone encounters, and it is commonly spread by social kissing among relatives and friends. Children who have no prior infections with an HSV type do not have an acquired immune response and are most susceptible.
50% of Americans, by their teenage and young adult years, will have acquired HSV1 and will have the HSV1 antibodies, and by the time they reach age 50, 80-90% of Americans will have acquired HSV1.
In contrast, almost all HSV2 infections are encountered during teenage and adult years, once someone has become sexually active.
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What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.
Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.
Chance Of Herpes Transmission By Gender
This table summarizes herpes transmission by gender. The percentages are the per-year chance of contracting the disease when one person is infected:
- infected male to susceptible female
- infected female to a susceptible male
As you can see, females are at higher risk of contracting the infection.
The percentages mentioned bellow are general estimates and may vary from person to person based on immune system strength , skin condition , and race .
|Vector of transmission||Chance of transmission|
|From an infected male to a susceptible female||7%â31%|
|From an infected female to a susceptible male||4%|
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What You Need To Know Herpes And Pregnancy
If you have herpes and are expectant, it’s wise to go to prenatal care visits. Tell the physician if you have ever had genital herpes or have ever been exposed to the STD. According to the CDC, the virus can result in a miscarriage or increase your likelihood of early delivery.
The virus can be transmitted to your baby before birth, but it is more common during vaginal delivery. If you are already infected, your doctor might offer you anti-herpes medication at the end of the pregnancy. During delivery, any experienced medical practitioner should examine you for sores, among other symptoms. If you’ve symptoms at childbirth, you will undergo a cesarean section.
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
What Are The Outcomes Of Herpes Infection
The first outbreak of herpes simplex is often the worst although not all first outbreaks are severe. Some are so mild that the infected person does not even notice it. Due to this, when the first outbreak of genital herpes is mild and another outbreak happens years later, the person can mistake it for the first outbreak.
Some people only have one outbreak. For others, the virus can become active again. Recurrences tend to be more common during the first year of infection. Over time, the outbreaks tend to become less frequent and milder. This is due to the development of antibodies by the body against the virus.
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What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.
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How Long Can Herpes Go Undetected
Once youve contracted HSV, there will be an incubation period the time it takes from contracting the virus until the first symptom appears.
The incubation period for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is the same: 2 to 12 days. For most people, the symptoms begin to show up in about 3 to 6 days.
However, according to the