16 Sep Herpes I & II: what you need to know
Before you lock lips (again?!) you may want to consider this: Herpes Simplex 1—the oral blisters people get on their lips—are HIGHLY contagious. You can get the virus by kissing someone who is a carrier of the virus but doesn’t show any symptoms (sores) OR by kissing someone who tells you that he or she gets the sores but doesn’t APPEAR to have a sore at the time. In other words (and this is super important so stop thinking about kissing your crush right now) you can spread and/or contract Herpes 1 even if you or the person you are kissing shows NO SIGNS of the virus. Once you get the virus, it never leaves your system. You are then likely to have outbreaks (blisters/sores) for life. Although that may sound awful, It’s not the end of the world. Some people do live with these diseases, and if that includes you, it will be your mental attitude towards the disease that is mort important.
Part of that attitude is how honest and thoughtful you will be towards other people. Be really honest if you have ever had a cold sore—those are the blisters associated with herpes. But don’t ever be embarrassed by them!
Why are we mentioning cold sores under STI’s though? Well, if you have Herpes Simplex 1 and you have oral sex, you can pass the virus from the oral region (your infected mouth) to the genital region (her non-infected vagina) where it remains forever. Herpes Simplex 1 (oral cold sores) is not as common as Genital Herpes (Herpes Simplex 2, see below for more information).
“The Forever Virus”
Herpes Simplex 2 is the other form of Herpes that affects the genital region (your privates) and is passed from one person to another by intercourse and by oral sex. The outbreaks are the same as Simplex 1 (the blisters/sores of the mouth) but they show up only in and around the genital region. They are painful and uncomfortable, flare up during times of stress, have no cure and will stay with you forever.
The Herpes Simplex 2 virus is more common in women than in men as transmission from a male to a female occurs more easily than from female to male. In general though, approximately 1 in 8 people ages 14-49 have genital Herpes. Those are not odds you want to take if you are just guessing about your partner’s sexual health. Don’t guess. Know and inform. Being tested for herpes and other STIs is always an option and something you might consider when you become sexually active.
And just to make things even more difficult, many people who are infected with Simplex 2, don’t even know it, which means that many people unknowingly pass on the virus (not everyone is aware of the symptoms). Again, be careful. Don’t leave anything to chance. Talk to your doctor and always talk to your partner. (If you can’t discuss things like this with your partner—communicating honestly and intimately—well then… maybe you might not be ready to communicate intimately with your body? Just something to think about’….)
Both types of Herpes Simplex virus can be transmitted by any contact involving mucous membranes, including kissing and sexual activity. Condoms do not fully protect against the herpes virus as they leave much skin surface exposed that can carry and transmit the virus, but they are still wise to use! Once the virus gets into the body, it is there to stay. Herpes—whether simplex 1 or 2—can remain dormant until reactivated by stress, the common cold, excessive sunlight exposure, nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions to food and drugs, injuries, dental treatments, fatigue or female hormonal changes.
Sound pretty bad? Well, unfortunately, we’re just getting started…
Did you know cold sores were from the herpes simplex family? Would you kiss your boy/girlfriend if he/she had a cold sore?