Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two different types of herpes simplex. One type usually causes cold sores, while the other type usually causes genital herpes. Both types are spread by direct skin contact, including genital-to-genital contact or mouth-to-genital contact.
Anyone who is sexually active can get genital herpes. You can catch it even if you only have one sex partner, if that person is infected. The truth is, many people don’t know they have herpes — which is why they can infect other without realizing it.
Not having sex is the only sure way to prevent genital herpes. However, for those who are sexually active, correct use of condoms will help prevent the spread of genital herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases.