Genital herpes is a chronic virus that can cause recurring bouts of rashes and blisters on the sexual organs. The risks of genital herpes in men generally relate to sexual behavior, although some men can contract the disease through other means. Understanding the risks of genital herpes in men can help both men and women take precautions to prevent infection or get treatment if symptoms occur. Prevention is important, since genital herpes is an incurable condition that will require careful management if contracted.
The most common risks of genital herpes in men include unprotected sexual activity. Having sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex without a barrier contraceptive can greatly increase the risk of catching or passing the disease. Health experts typically suggest the use of condoms as a good means of reducing the risk from vaginal or anal intercourse, but these cannot eliminate the risk entirely. Men can also contract the disease from giving or receiving unprotected oral sex to an infected male or female partner, which can also carry a somewhat reduced risk if barrier contraceptives are used. Oral contraceptives, such as birth control pills, will not reduce the risk of contracting or passing genital herpes.
A second major factor that can raise the risks of genital herpes in men is promiscuous sexual behavior. People who have multiple partners over a short period of time may not be aware that they have herpes, which makes them more likely to engage in unprotected sexual activity, thus becoming a conduit for the infection. Moreover, those who engage in casual sex may be less likely to ask questions about sexual history, thus may not be aware that they are exposing themselves to the infection. One of the best ways to reduce the chances of contracting genital herpes is to refrain from sexual activity unless both partners are monogamous and have been tested for the disease.
According to scientific research, some additional factors can also raise the risks of genital herpes in men. Young men are generally more likely to contract the disease than older men, and those in lower socioeconomic classes may also have higher risks in some regions. Those who are uneducated about the disease and methods of prevention may also have somewhat higher risks, since they may not be able to recognize symptoms or know about precautions. Men who have autoimmune diseases can have higher risks, since their system may be less able to fight off the disease if encountered. Finally, male babies can contract the disease during the birth process if the mother has genital herpes.