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What Is the Risk of Contracting Herpes with a Condom

Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus. It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, even if there are no visible sores or symptoms. The use of condoms during sexual activity is thought to reduce the risk of herpes transmission, but how effective are they really?

First, it`s important to understand the two types of herpes viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is typically associated with cold sores on or around the mouth, while HSV-2 is usually associated with genital herpes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using condoms consistently and correctly during sex can reduce the risk of HSV-2 transmission by about 50%. This means that there is still a chance of contracting herpes even while using a condom, albeit a lower chance.

It`s important to note that condoms are not 100% effective at preventing the transmission of herpes. This is because herpes can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact in areas not covered by the condom, such as the scrotum, buttocks, and thighs. Additionally, condoms can break or slip off during sex, which can increase the risk of transmission.

Furthermore, using condoms during oral sex can also reduce the risk of transmission, but not as effectively as during vaginal or anal sex. This is because oral sex involves skin-to-skin contact with the mouth, which may not be fully covered by a condom.

So, what can you do to reduce the risk of contracting herpes? The CDC recommends the following:

– Get tested for STIs regularly and know your partner`s STI status.

– Use condoms consistently and correctly during sex, including oral sex.

– Avoid sexual activity during herpes outbreaks, when sores or symptoms are present.

– Consider taking antiviral medication to reduce your risk of transmission.

In conclusion, using condoms during sexual activity can definitely lower the risk of contracting herpes, but they are not a foolproof method of prevention. It`s important to practice safe sex by using condoms consistently and correctly, and to discuss STI testing and status with your partner. If you have concerns about your risk of herpes transmission, talk to your healthcare provider about additional prevention strategies.