Herpes is a disease most of you have probably heard about already. It’s caused by Herpes Simplex Virus, or HSV. There are actually two different types of herpes, simply named HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is said to be the cause of oral infections, as it manifests as bizarre blisters or lip fissures. Some amongst you probably know them as cold sores or fever blisters. We now know HSV-1 may also cause genital herpes. HSV-2, however, is renowned to be the virus that causes the most cases of genital herpes.
Can You Get Herpes from a Cold Sore?
Let’s just all bear in mind that “cold sore” is just a name we give to arising oral infections caused by the HSV-1 virus. Even though genital herpes is generally caused by the HSV-2 variant of the virus, this does not mean it cannot be caused by the HSV-1 virus.
The answer is yes! A person with HSV-1 that presents small wounds in his/her mouth can in fact transmit the virus to his/her partner’s genitals. This usually takes place through oral sex, of course. It is also very important to know that sores might not even be visible when contact takes place.
What is the best way to avoid infection? Well, the best way is definitely abstinence (not engaging in sex), as it does to comprise any contact whatsoever. If both partners have the virus this should be the thing to do. Dental dams work too, particularly with cunnilingus. Using a condom during any type of sex should be safe enough though, even if it is not 100% safe, strictly speaking.
More Info on the Spread of Herpes (Oral or Genital)
What tends to happen in most cases is that HSV-1 is transmitted from one person to another by simple kissing. Even if HSV-1 can be passed from one person’s mouth to another’s genitals through oral sex, it is also important to know that this can also happen the other way around: someone infected with genital herpes can pass the disease from his/her genitals to the other person’s mouth, resulting in this latter one being infected by oral herpes (or cold sore).
HSV-2 on its own is mostly transmitted through vaginal sex or anal sex. Some of you that might have suffered from herpes in the past may think that you probably became contaminated by using the toilet seat of a dirty bar, for example. This might also be the case, but it has been scientifically proved that the HSV-2 virus cannot survive on an inorganic surface for long, making it unlikely.
How to Prevent Herpes Infection
The saddest news about herpes is that no cure has yet been created that could totally eradicate the infection. Despite this, there are loads of effective precautionary measures you can indulge with in order to prevent yourself from acquiring it, or to avoid it being transmitted to your partner. Let’s discuss them now.
If you find out you have contracted HSV-1, avoid all possible physical contact with anyone around you. Try not to share any objects that could carry the disease with them (objects that might have touched your mouth), such as towels, glasses or cups, pieces of cutlery, makeup, etc. It is also very recommendable for you not to participate in any kind or sexual activity, as contact in these practices becomes both intimate and close, and so the chances of transmission become very high. It’s also very recommendable to wash your hands frequently, either if you, your partner or someone in the office is infected.
People with HSV-2, on the other hand, should avoid all types of sexual engagements with other people. We have already discussed ways in which sex could be practiced reducing the risks of infection considerably (namely through the use of preservatives), it may still be possible to transmit the disease from uncovered skin. Pregnant women might also want to take medicine in order to prevent their baby from being infected.
How Can I Find Out If I’ve Been Infected with Genital Herpes?
Our best advice is that you should go visit you usual doctor to get yourself examined by a professional. A doctor can easily get samples tested in laboratories, which would dissipate all remaining doubts.
Otherwise, if you go to the nearest hospital you will most definitely be sent to take a blood test. This is another efficient way of clearly knowing what it is that you have contracted. Blood tests look for antibodies that your immune system would have generated in order to fight the virus –if it really is there. The finding of specific antibodies that appear to fight the herpes virus is a clear sign indicating you have contracted the disease. You could either get tested for the HSV-1 virus, HSV-2, or both.
Genital herpes mode of transmission, symptoms and treatments: