Causes of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the virus known as herpes simplex or HSV. The HSV virus is classified into two types, HSV – 1 and HSV – 2. Genital herpes infections usually occur due to HSV – 2. The HSV – 1 virus causes contagious fever blisters which develop around the mouth. In some cases, genital herpes can be caused by HSV – 1 and can spread through oral sexual contact. The main causes of genital herpes are as follows:

  • Direct contact with an infected individual. This includes oral sexual contact and sexual intercourse. Other types of skin to skin contact can also spread the infection.
  • Any infected individual can spread genital herpes to another individual. However, it is known to spread more commonly from an infected male to his female partner.
  • Majority of infected individuals do not experience any symptoms or are unable to recognize the symptoms of genital herpes. The virus is still contagious in such individuals and can be transmitted to others.

In many cases, people infected by the virus may not experience any symptoms, but may still spread the disease to others. Research indicates that the infection can spread even when it is dormant.

The risk of genital herpes is higher in case of the following groups of people:

  • Women are more susceptible to genital herpes than men. The herpes simplex virus spreads more easily to women.
  • Individuals who have multiple sexual partners are at a greater risk of contracting the infection.

  1. Lawrence Stanberry, Anthony Cunningham, Gregory Mertz, Adrian Mindel, Barry Peters, Michael Reitano, Stephen Sacks, Anna Wald, Sawko Wassilew, Paul Woolley, New developments in the epidemiology, natural history and management of genital herpes, Antiviral Research, Volume 42, Issue 1, May 1999, Pages 1-14, ISSN 0166-3542, 10.1016/S0166-3542(99)00004-2.
  2. Margaret Perlia Bavis, Diane Yeager Smith, Martha Zervopoulos Siomos, Genital Herpes: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Counseling in the Adolescent Patient, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Volume 5, Issue 6, June 2009, Pages 415-420, ISSN 1555-4155, 10.1016/j.nurpra.2008.11.004.