What causes herpes?

Herpes is typically spread from contact with sores or bodily fluids (like saliva or semen) of people who carry the virus. Specifically:

HSV-1 primarily spreads through contact with sores, saliva, or surfaces in and around the mouth. Contrary to popular belief, most people contract HSV-1 through non-sexual contact with saliva in childhood. Although less common, it can also be transmitted to the genital area through oral-genital contact, leading to genital herpes. Transmission can also occur from contact with oral or skin surfaces that appear normal. 

When it comes to HSV-2, physical contact plays a central role in transmission. The virus can be passed through contact with genital or anal surfaces, skin, sores, or bodily fluids of an infected individual. Even when skin looks unaffected, HSV-2 can still be transmitted, often without any noticeable symptoms.In rare circumstances, herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2) can be transmitted from mother to child during delivery. 

Typically, the only time it can be dangerous is if you get your first outbreak in pregnancy. Most people who have herpes are able to have normal births and have no issues at all. If you know you have herpes already, your provider can help you to prevent outbreaks during birth and other times in your life!

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