Over 24 million Americans.
That is population in the U.S. infected with genital herpes (HSV 2), according to WebMD.
So how do you get HSV 2, and where does it come from?
Our expert takes a look at the five most common ways HSV 2 is transmitted.
1. HSV 2 can be transmitted through oral sex
HSV 2 is highly contagious by skin-to-skin contact. It can be transmitted even when you have no herpes sores or lesions. If you perform oral sex on someone who has genital herpes, you can get infected, too. It is known as oral HSV 2. But the chance of that happening is considered quite rare. Those with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk.
Most STDs are transmitted through blood, semen or body fluid. But HSV 2 is more different. It spreads when the infected areas of a person come into contact with the skin or mucous membrane of another person.
Read more: Oral Sex- Risks and STIs You Can Get
2. Vaginal or anal intercourse
Vaginal or anal sex is often how HSV 2 is transmitted. If you engage in these kinds of sex with a person who has the virus, you can get genital or anal herpes. HSV 2 is most contagious when a herpes sore is present. Therefore, it is important to use condoms during sex until the sore has completely healed.
Remember that even if you have herpes but no sores, you can pass it to another person. So for prevention, the best way is to refrain from sexual activity.
As mentioned above, HSV 2 can infect the mouth, resulting in oral herpes. If you kiss a person who has an open sore in their mouth, you can be infected, too.
Another type of herpes simplex virus that can cause oral herpes is HSV 1. This is also called cold sores or fever blisters. HSV 1 is most commonly transmitted through kissing. A child can get the virus from being kissed by an adult who has herpes.
Read more: 5 Terrible Diseases You Can Get From Kissing
4. Sharing sex toys
You may have heard that HSV 2 cannot survive outside of the body. But… the fact is that without a host, the virus can live for short periods of time. It can be found on inanimate objects and dry surfaces, for about few hours to 8 weeks. HSV 2 can live longer in moist, warm conditions. So if you use sex toys of an infected person, you can get the virus as well.
5. Mother-to-child transmission
You might be wondering:
Is HSV 2 hereditary? Can HPV 2 pass from mother to child?
In short, HSV 2 is not hereditary, meaning the virus cannot be transmitted through genetics. And, children cannot inherit the gene from their parents.
But here’s the kicker:
Researchers found that HSV 2 can be passed from mother to child during childbirth.
Women who have genital herpes late in pregnancy have a very high risk of passing the virus on to their babies. This is because their bodies do not create enough antibodies to fight against the virus. Women who have genital herpes before pregnancy, on the other hand, are at lower risk. This is because their bodies make enough antibodies to temporarily protect the baby during birth.
Read more: How Does Genital Herpes Affect Your Baby?
Unlikely methods of HSV 2 transmission
The above ways make up over 90% of all known HSV 2 transmission. Clearly, skin-to-skin contact is often how HSV 2 is transmitted. However, HSV 2 transmission is known to be very unlikely to occur in, for example:
- Sharing a living space
- Sharing toilet seats
- Sharing towels or other objects used by an infected person
- Modern blood transfusions (People with HSV 2 can still donate blood)
To reduce the risk of HSV 2 transmission and keep it at bay:
Use antiviral medications. Apply ProsurX cream 2-3 times daily to ease HSV 2 symptoms and prevent new outbreaks.
Boost the immune system. Eat foods rich in L-Lysine, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and orange and red vegetables. Take bulletproof deep immune support.
Practice safer sex. Use condoms during sex. Avoid oral sex. Abstain from sex when you have an outbreak of HSV 2.
Tell your partner about herpes. This can help reduce your partner’s chances of contracting HSV 2.
Read more: 7 Super Foods to Shorten Herpes Outbreaks