What are the Different Ways of Contracting Herpes?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2019
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Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, which means it can be spread through sexual contact. An individual may contract it through intercourse as well as through oral sex. It is also possible, however, for a person to contract herpes in other ways, such as through kissing and from certain types of skin-to-skin contact. This disease can even be transmitted from a mother to her child during childbirth. Some people believe herpes can be contracted from toilet seats or towels, but this is unlikely.

The primary method of contracting herpes is through sexual contact. If an individual has sex with a person with an active herpes sore, he may contract the virus that causes herpes. Unfortunately, however, it is even possible to contract herpes from an infected partner when the partner does not have a visible herpes sore.

Many people believe kissing is safe and don’t think they are at risk of contracting herpes by doing it. If an individual has a herpes sore on his lip, however, and kisses an uninfected person, he may pass the herpes virus to his partner. This type of herpes sore is usually referred to as a fever blister or cold sore. The virus may affect the genitals later if it is spread through oral sex. It may even spread to the genitals after a person touches a herpes sore on his mouth and then touches his genitals with the same hand.


Infants may contract herpes from their mothers as well. If an infected woman has an active herpes outbreak and delivers a child at this time, the child may be infected during birth. In many cases, however, doctors recommend Cesarean sections or antiviral medications to prevent babies from contracting herpes in this manner.

Many people feel worried about using public toilets or even wiping their hands on towels for fear of contracting herpes. It is unlikely that a person will contract the virus in this manner, however. The herpes virus usually lives for only a short period of time outside the body.

Since the most common way of contracting herpes is through sexual contact, a person who wants to avoid the disease may do well to use condoms or only participate in sexual activities with one uninfected partner. Dental dam may help to prevent the spread of infection through oral sex as well. Additionally, a person may do well to avoid kissing individuals who have cold sores.


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Post 3

I once saw someone at the hospital who had herpes type 1 on the genitals, which is very rare. What was weirder was that he was reinfected with his own virus when his girlfriend kissed him when he had a lip sore and then performed oral sex on him! Something like this is unbelievably rare but not impossible.

Post 2

@SarahGen-- It's not possible to know if someone has herpes if there is no active outbreak. One would hope that if someone has herpes and knows it, that he or she would tell all partners before getting physical. But not everyone does this. Moreover, herpes doesn't cause symptoms in some people so your partner may not know that he has it either.

In an ideal world, those who are sexually active should be getting STD testing regularly and sharing their health status with all partners. Most people actually don't mind an STD like herpes when the relationship seems promising and when protection is used. But it's still a risk and you have to keep this in mind. The more sexual partners you have, the higher the risk of contracting STDs like herpes.

And spreading herpes is unbelievably easy. A person might have a herpes sore inside the mouth and not the lips and you won't even know it's there.

Post 1

How can I know if someone has herpes or not if they're not having an outbreak?

I'm actively dating and I always use protection during intercourse. But I don't ask a partner if he has herpes before I kiss. None of my partners have had visible blisters or sores anywhere on their body. I know that this is not the best way to go about things, but how can I know if someone has herpes otherwise?

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