The difference between oral herpes and genital herpes (HSV – 1 and HSV – 2)

Herpes is a very common sexually transmitted infection that primarily affects the mouth and genitals. It is generally transmitted through body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids. It is worth mentioning that penetration isn’t required for the transmission of the herpes virus. Oral – oral or oral – genital contact is ideal for the spread of the herpes simplex virus.

Herpes viruses are categorized into two – herpes simplex virus – 1 and herpes simplex virus – 2. Both strains of the herpes virus cause cold sores. It is a common belief that HSV – 1 leads to infection in the mouth where as HSV – 2 is responsible for causing genital infections. However, this is absolutely untrue as over 90 percent of the herpes cases today are caused by herpes simplex virus type – 1.

On the other hand, a mere 16 percent of the American population is living with herpes simplex virus type – 2. Unfortunately, a majority of population isn’t aware of the infection as herpes is an asymptomatic infection and shows no symptoms. The infection is known to be contagious regardless of whether you’re experiencing any symptoms. In fact, 70 percent of herpes transmission is believed to occur when someone is going through a phase called viral shedding.

HSV – 1 and HSV – 2 – The Native Habitat

While both the variants of the herpes virus cause cold sores, the primary difference between the two variants is the risk of recurrence. Having said this, HSV – 1 prefers staying above the best while HSV – 2 prefers being below the belt, as this is supposed to be their native habitat. This means, HSV – 1 affecting the genitals is less likely to happen and the same applies to HSV – 2 affecting the mouth and lips.

This is the main reason why healthcare experts recommend a swab test by collecting the fluid or tissue from your genitals. If it happens to be HSV – 1, you’re less likely to shed the virus or have recurrent outbreaks. This eventually means, the chances of transmitting the infection are significantly less.

The risked posed by oral sex

As mentioned earlier, both variants of the herpes virus have the tendency of affecting either mouth or the genitals. However, the severity of the symptoms and the likeliness of transmission may differ. On the other hand, when a person affected with oral herpes participates in oral sex, he/she is likely to infect the genitals as well, which appear in the form of lesions in the labia or around the penis. It is worth mentioning that that anal sex too can cause transmission of herpes.

As a matter of fact, there is no way of making yourself immune against either variants of the herpes simplex virus. All you can do is follow precautions and abstain from maintaining multiple partners.

Category: Herpes Life

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- March 30, 2016