What are the Chances of Getting Herpes from an Infected Partner?

What are the Chances of Getting Herpes from an Infected Partner?

The Chances of Getting Herpes from an Infected Partner

genital herpes infection and the risk of transmission

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) that can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. Some people infected with genital herpes may not be aware they have contracted it because symptoms can be very minimal or not show at all. If one does get the oral or genital herpes, it's usually mild and not dangerous unless you're pregnant or otherwise immunocompromised.

One common question associated with this disease is, "what are the chances of getting herpes from infected partner?" Read on and explore the nature of genital herpes, its treatment and management options, and preventive measures against the undesirable effects of genital herpes.

How likely are you to get herpes from an infected partner?

A study found that 9.7% out of 144 surveyed heterosexual couples acquired genital herpes from their partner in the span of 334 days. While the risk of passing genital herpes to a partner depends on multiple factors (e.g. frequency of sex/condom use and the duration of the infection), it is possible to be transmitted, even during periods of little to no symptoms present. Someone who has had the herpes simplex virus, oral or genital herpes, for longer is less contagious than a newly infected individual. However, it is wise to discuss prevention and treatment options with your partner to reduce your risk.

How common is genital herpes?

The World Health Organization (WHO) calculates that worldwide, about 491 million people aged 15-49 have genital herpes infections caused by HSV-2 alone. This implies that about one in every four aged between 15 and 49 is infected with the herpes simplex virus. The herpes simplex virus is more common in developing countries like India, China and Africa than in developed nations like the United Kingdom. Even though it's a common disease, not many people talk about it openly because of its unpleasant symptoms.

Genital herpes symptoms

The symptoms of genital herpes are very similar to those of other sexually transmitted diseases. They usually appear between two and 12 days after the herpes simplex virus enters your body. The first infection is usually more severe than subsequent ones.

A person may not know if genital herpes exists because many infected people may not have symptoms. In fact, according to a report on an Italian study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, only one in 10 people who are infected will ever experience symptoms. Those who do get symptoms may notice the following:

  • Small fluid-filled blisters called vesicles on their genitals or rectum (anus). These typically open, crust over and heal within two weeks.

  • Painful sores or ulcers on their genitals or rectum that can last anywhere from two to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the infection and whether someone has had previous outbreaks of genital herpes before.

  • Swelling of lymph nodes around the groin area; this is more common among women but affects men. Sometimes there is swelling in other areas, such as near the eyes or ears, as well as fever, muscle aches and headaches associated with colds/flu-like illness characterizing the prodromal phase before the breakout occurs.

What causes genital herpes?

A virus known as the herpes simplex virus causes genital herpes. Herpes simplex virus has two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most of the time, HSV-1 causes cold sores on or near the mouth, and HSV-2 causes genital herpes. The viruses enter the body through tiny cuts or breaks in your skin or mucous membranes that come into contact with the infected fluid (such as blood).

HSV-1 and HSV-2 are very similar. They both cause cold sores, but they infect your genitals. However, some key differences help with determining which type of herpes has occurred, including genital herpes. For example:

  • HSV 1 is usually associated with oral herpes (cold sores) or chickenpox when contracted as a child or teen. It is transmissible by direct contact with exposed wounds in the mouth or nose of an infected person or through saliva when kissing someone with active lesions on their lips. HSV 1 is primarily transmitted through oral-to-oral contact. Still, one is able to spread it by touching infected skin or mucus membranes and then touching your mouth.

  • HSV 2 is usually associated with genital herpes. It's transmitted through direct contact with an open sore. The virus can be spread when there is no visible sore, but the infected person may have "tingling or burning" before lesions appear. HSV 2 is primarily transmitted through vaginal-to-genital contact. Still, it might be spread by touching infected skin or mucus membranes and then touching your mouth.

Read more: How to treat anal herpes.

How likely is the transmission of genital herpes?

Genital herpes transmission can be through direct skin-to-skin contact. The herpes simplex virus can be present in the bodily fluids of an infected person and is most commonly spread during sexual activity, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It may be spread when no symptoms are present. Most people who have genital herpes get it through vaginal intercourse. One may get it if there's contact with a sore on someone's penis or vagina during oral sex or anal sex.

The likelihood of transmitting genital herpes is highest during the first outbreak. However, an individual can still transmit the genital herpes simplex virus even if they have no symptoms or signs of an outbreak. The risk of transmitting genital herpes depends on many factors, including whether you've been diagnosed with oral herpes or cold sores and your partner's sexual history and overall health.

The transmission risk is low when both partners are uninfected. If a person has oral or genital herpes, there is still a chance of infecting another person through sexual contact. However, if you're taking medication for herpes, it can lower the risk of transmitting the virus by about 80%.

What is a recurrent outbreak?

A recurrent outbreak is a new or repeated outbreak of genital herpes. It's known as a "recurrence." Recurrences happen for many reasons, including:

  • The person with the herpes infection is stressed or run down.

  • The person has a new partner, and you're not taking steps to avoid herpes simplex virus transmission.

  • The person has frequent contact with someone with oral or genital herpes (such as your partner), and not taking medication to suppress the herpes virus.

  • The person is having sex with someone who has other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in addition to oral or genital herpes.

  • The person is taking medication to suppress the oral or genital herpes virus, and it stops working.

  • The person's immune system is weakened, which allows the virus to retake hold and increases the risk of transmitting herpes whether it be oral or genital herpes.

Recurrent genital herpes can cause repeated blister herpes outbreak, sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters. Recurrent outbreaks may occur within a few days or weeks after you initially become infected with genital herpes. The first outbreak of the herpes infection is often the most severe. Still, recurrent outbreaks are less painful and last shorter durations than initial episodes.

Recurrent outbreaks are the body's natural response to a herpes simplex virus that is still present in the body. During a recurrent outbreak, new symptoms will appear on your genitals and (or) mouth. They can be stressful and upsetting. Suppose one has a recurrent outbreak of genital herpes. Talking with your doctor or healthcare provider about managing your symptoms would be best.

Read more: How to treat herpes on the tongue.

Treatment and management options for genital herpes

There are many ways to help manage your symptoms. The most effective treatment for oral or genital herpes transmission is an antiviral medication. These drugs can shorten the duration of an outbreak, help to relieve pain and discomfort and prevent outbreaks from occurring in the future.

Find the range of treatment for genital herpes at Welzo here.

Other ways to manage your symptoms are:

  • Encourage your immune system to fight off the virus with good nutrition, rest and stress reduction.

  • Treat any minor skin infections or sores that may occur at the site of your outbreak.

  • Use lubricants to help prevent painful sexual intercourse during an outbreak.

  • Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter pain medications (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) should be used. Consult your doctor concerning the safety of taking these medicines with other medications.

  • Use cool compresses to relieve pain and swelling.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  • Make warm baths or showers to reduce the pain and itching of an outbreak. A person is able to try a sitz bath (a shallow tub added to the toilet filled with water that one sits in for about 20 minutes).

  • Apply ointments or creams that contain lidocaine or pramoxine to numb your sore areas; these medications are available without a prescription from your doctor or health care provider.

Read more: How to treat herpes on penis.

Preventive measures against genital herpes

A person is able to avoid acquiring genital herpes by taking the following steps:

  • Avoid sexual contact with someone who has oral or genital herpes.

  • Use latex condoms during sex, even if you and your partner have no symptoms of genital herpes.

  • Practice safe oral sex by using a dental dam or condom cut from latex to cover the vulva (female external genitals) or anus (male or female entrance).

  • Do not share personal belongings like razors, towels and clothing with people with genital herpes.

If sexually active, using latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmitting genital herpes infection; however, even with the absence of sores, people with genital herpes can still spread the herpes virus through skin-to-skin contact even when they don't know they're infected.

Contracting the herpes simplex virus is a health concern. The more a person knows about herpes virus and herpes transmission, the more one is able to reduce the risk.

Try this simple test to determine if you're positive for the herpes virus.

The takeaway

Genital herpes is a common STI. Herpes is incurable, but it may be managed with medicine. If one has genital herpes, speak with a doctor about reducing the risk of spreading the herpes virus whether it is oral or genital herpes. Speak to a doctor if there is a herpes outbreak or herpes symptoms. Learn how to manage recurrent genital herpes, and how to avoid further genital herpes transmitted and herpes transmission.

The best way to manage this virus is to be well-informed on the topic. It's important to realize that even if one has herpes, it doesn't mean you'll get sick or pass it on every time. A person is able to still lead a healthy lifestyle and enjoy activities with their partner without worrying about transmitting or contracting genital herpes.

Order Welzo's Herpes Simplex Virus Test to check the herpes status.





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