Genital herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV): HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both the types of HSV can cause genital herpes but HSV-2 causes most cases of genital herpes.
Genital herpes is a common type of sexually transmitted disease (STD).The term STD means that the disease spreads from one person to other during vaginal, anal, or oral sexual contact. So you may get infected with herpes if your skin, vagina, penis, or mouth comes into contact with a person who has herpes infection.
The herpes virus spreads from one person to other by direct skin-to-skin or mucous membrane contact. The virus is present in the secretions of the mouth or genitals. Genital herpes infection can be transmitted through penile-vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral-genital sex, and other sexual body-to-body contact.You are more likely to contract the infection if the person has sores, blisters, or a rash (an active outbreak). But many people who don’t have symptoms can still be contagious that is they can transmit the disease.
Most people get genital herpes through vaginal or anal intercourse with a person who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However it is possible to get infected through oral sex, this is probably the leading cause of genital herpes due to HSV-1.Genital HSV-2 infection is more common in women as compared to men (about 1 of every 4 women is infected whereas nearly 1 of every 8 men is infected).Besides sexual intercourse and oral sex HSV can be transmitted, from mother to child during vaginal delivery. Delivery by cesarean section can prevent this type of transmission (from a mother to baby).
You cannot get HSV infection by sitting on contaminated toilet seats, by hot tubs or swimming pools, or other non-intimate contact. Rarely the infection can spread from one part of your body to another (autoinoculation)—so try not to touch the sores and always wash hands with soap and water if you touch the sores.