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Genital herpes can be contracted through vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse with an infected individual. Transmission can occur via:

  • Direct contact with a herpes sore.
  • Exposure to the saliva of a partner with oral herpes.
  • Contact with genital fluids from a partner with genital herpes.
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the oral area of a partner with oral herpes.
  • Skin-to-skin contact with the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.

It’s important to note that it’s still possible to contract genital herpes from a partner who doesn’t have any visible sores or is unaware of their infection. Furthermore, receiving oral sex from a partner with oral herpes can also lead to genital herpes transmission.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, genital herpes is not transmitted through toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. Additionally, you cannot contract herpes from touching objects like silverware, soap, or towels. Transmission primarily occurs through direct contact with infected areas or fluids during sexual activities.


During a herpes outbreak, individuals typically experience the formation of one or more blisters in the genital, rectal, or oral areas. These blisters can be painful and are often referred to as “herpes sores.” Over time, the blisters rupture, resulting in painful open sores that can take a week or even longer to heal. It’s common for people to experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, and swollen glands during the initial outbreak of herpes.

  • Unusual sore or lesion on or around the genital, anal, or oral areas.
  • Unpleasant or smelly genital discharge.
  • Burning sensation or pain during urination.
  • Bleeding between periods (for individuals with a menstrual cycle).

If left untreated:

Genital herpes can lead to the development of painful sores in the genital area and may be particularly severe in individuals with weakened immune systems.

It’s crucial to avoid touching the herpes sores or any fluids from them to prevent transferring the infection to other parts of your body, including your eyes. In case you accidentally come into contact with the sores or fluids, make sure to promptly and thoroughly wash your hands to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

For pregnant individuals, contracting genital herpes can pose potential risks to both the mother and the unborn fetus or newborn baby. It’s essential for expectant mothers to be cautious and seek medical attention if they suspect they have herpes or have been exposed to the virus. Proper management and guidance from healthcare professionals can help mitigate potential complications during pregnancy and childbirth.