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Sex Education Articles

Herpes: It Grows On You

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 (oral herpes) usually causes mouth sores or fever blisters. It’s estimated that 50% to 80% of adults could have oral herpes in the United States.

Although in recent studies, they are now finding cases that herpes type 1 has started to show outbreaks in the genital area in younger sex couples. This wasn’t very common before. Oral herpes is usually passed by kissing. But, beware- it can be spread also by oral sex such as fellatio, cunnilingus and analingus. Now, if this should happen and you become infected; you now have a case of genital herpes.

Type 2 herpes is the main source of genital herpes cases where, of course, the ulcers are located in the genital area. This type 2 lives in the nerves and when it starts to get active; it travels to an area of the skin and begins to reproduce and starts a process called “shedding”; where if it can actually rub off on another person and thus you are now infected with herpes type 2 virus. Of course the most common way for this to “rub off” would be vaginal or anal sex. Also, one more point, just like type 1 herpes- type 2 herpes can also cause mouth sores and fever blisters. (These two family members tend to like to share some symptoms.) Now, what makes this virus really bad- is that most infected people have no symptoms, but can still release the herpes virus between outbreaks to other people. After the outbreak, the Herpes virus will then travel back down to the base of the spine where it lies dormant until the next outbreak. This is how the Herpes cycle works.

Believe it or not, many people could be infected by the Herpes virus and not even know it. Studies show that about 20% of people of the age of 12 and up have type 2 genital herpes . 90% most likely are unaware that they even have this. So don’t get so upset if a partner tells you that they never knew that they were infected; chances are high that they didn’t.

Now many people have asked the question about whether you can get herpes from a toilet seat. The good news is that herpes cannot live long on non- living surfaces; so therefore it’s very rare that you would find this to be a cause of a case.

There are ways to prevent herpes. Use of a condom during sex could protect you from being infected. But, you need to ensure that the area that is “shedding”(remember this from earlier) the Herpes virus is completely covered. The best suggestion would be to just refrain from sex during the time when you know your partner is having an outbreak, or if you see that your partner has visible fever blisters, mouth sores, or blisters in the genital area. This may be a sign that you should not have vaginal, anal or oral sex with them until it is confirmed safe.

The most important thing you need to remember is herpes can still be contagious even though a person does not show any herpes symptoms. As always, please consult your own personal doctor regarding your specific care or questions you may have.


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