The primary question on the minds of people who have been newly diagnosed with genital herpes is, “how did I get this disease?” Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and there are two main ways you can contract it. The primary way the disease is transmitted is through penetrative sex, vaginally or anally.
More women than men are infected with HSV primarily because a man ejaculates his semen, which contains the herpes simplex virus, into his sexual partner. However, a woman can infect her sexual partner with the disease if her secretions find their way into a cut or open sores on the person’s body.
Genital herpes can also be transmitted orally. There are two forms of the herpes simplex virus: HSV Type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV Type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 primarily affects the mouth and lips and produces cold sores or fever blisters while HSV-2 affects the penis, vagina, and anus and produces genital herpes. A person with HSV-1 can infect his or her sexual partner with genital herpes through oral sex.
While sex is the primary vehicle for the spread of genital herpes, it can be transmitted through almost any skin to skin contact where bodily fluids are involved. However, the virus cannot live for very long outside of the body. Therefore, you are unlikely to contract the disease from a toilet seat or other type of non-living surfaces.
Preventing Genital Herpes
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The best way to prevent contracting the disease is to avoid all sexual contact with other people. Barring that, you should always practice safe sex. Condoms and dental dams should be used during every sexual encounter, and you should avoid having sex with an infected partner while the virus is active in his or her system.
If you do contract genital herpes, there are medications you can take that will help prevent outbreaks or reduce the number of outbreaks you experience.