Herpes is a virus and two types of the herpes virus can cause a STD.
Oral herpes is usually caused by herpes simplex virus type 1(HSV-1) and can result in cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth. Most people with oral herpes were infected during childhood or young adulthood from salvia, not from sexual contact. Oral herpes (HSV-1) can be spread from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex. This is why some cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-1.
Genital herpes is an STD and can be caused by two types of viruses, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease.
Other ways to become infected are coming into contact with the herpes virus in:
A herpes sore;
Saliva (if your partner has an oral herpes infection);
Genital secretions (if your partner has a genital herpes infection);
Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection; or
Skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know they are infected. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
Herpes lesions are painful and there are medications available to help reduce the pain and the length of time the lesions are present. Your care provider can give you more information about the medications available.
The best protection is to use latex condoms during sex. There are even ways to make condoms for the mouth and tongue that can be used for oral sex. One product that can be purchased are dental dams but you can use a regular latex condom too.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels.