Herpes is a highly contagious viral infection which remains in your body and can cause painful blistering on your genitals.


Once you have caught herpes, the virus will remain inside your body and can flare up again in the future. In general, outbreaks of genital herpes are worst in the first two years of being infected, with flare-ups becoming less regular and severe as time goes on.


Condoms can provide some protection against herpes, although it is important to take further precautions. Never have sex with someone while they have visible symptoms of herpes, always wait until the outbreak has cleared up.

Eight out of 10 people with the herpes virus are not aware they have the infection. Even someone who is not suffering from any symptoms can pass on the herpes virus but using condoms will reduce this risk, although it will not give you complete protection.


One of the reasons why there is still a risk even while using condoms is because they only cover the penis. Herpes can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact so touching someoneís upper thighs, anus and genital area can also lead to the infection spreading.


In a nutshell, if youíre planning to have sex then the best way you can protect yourself against herpes is to use a condom. Studies suggest that using condoms reduce the chance of herpes spreading by half.

But be vigilant and do not have any sexual contact with someone if you can see blistering around their private parts or inner thighs. You can also catch herpes though oral sex, so use a flavoured condom if you are unsure of your partnerís sexual health and history.


If you know that you have herpes, be careful to avoid sexual contact if there are any sores, ulcers or blisters visible or if you can feel the itching or tingling sensation which usually occurs just before an outbreak.