What to Know When Dating Women With Herpes

According to herpesonline.org, up to 25 percent of American adults have been infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes most cases of genital herpes. The virus is more common among women than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there are risks involved in having sex with someone who has HSV-2, there are steps she and you can take to protect yourselves.

Transmission of HSV-1

HSV-1 is the herpes virus that, for the most part, causes cold sores. However, your partner can transmit this virus from her mouth to your genitals, and can sometimes trigger a genital herpes infection.

Transmission of HSV-2

Most cases of genital herpes are triggered by the HSV-2 virus, which can be transmitted through oral, vaginal and anal sex. People who are having an active outbreak should refrain from sexual activity.


Herpes causes sores on the genitals or in the mouth that occur in outbreaks (sores appear and go away), which become less frequent with time. The CDC reports that HSV-2 also can cause fever and swollen glands, although most people with HSV-2 never develop symptoms.

Prevention: Barriers

Even in the absence of an outbreak, it is possible to transmit HSV-2 to your partner. You should use barriers like condoms, female condoms and dental dams, which can reduce your chances of contracting HSV-2. However, be aware that herpes can be spread through skin that is not covered by a barrier.

Prevention: Treatment

The CDC reports that daily medication treatment for herpes helps reduce the risk of transmitting herpes to sexual partners.


There are a very limited number of cases of nonsexual transmission of herpes, as from sharing a toilet seat or towel. Herpes.org lists the precautions people with herpes should take during out an outbreak to prevent these (see Resources).

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About the Author

Erik Steel is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor's degree in Russian. Steel has worked as writer for more than four years and has contributed content to eHow and Pluck on Demand. His work recently appeared in the literary journal "Arsenic Lobster."

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