Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Genital Herpes Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Potential Herpes Triggers

Keep these lesser known triggers in mind. Some may cause genital herpes to flare up, others not.

  • Factors during sex. Some people find that the friction of sexual intercourse irritates the skin and brings on symptoms. Using a water-based lubricant can help reduce irritation. Don't use one that contains the spermicide nonoxynol-9, however. Nonoxynol-9 can irritate mucous membranes, such as the lining of the vagina. Oil-based lubricants are a no-no, too. They weaken latex, making condoms more likely to break. Even if the friction of intercourse seems to be a trigger for symptoms, it probably won't cause a flare-up every time.
  • Colds and sunlight. The common cold and sunlight seem to trigger outbreaks of oral herpes (cold sores), but no proof exists that they trigger genital herpes outbreaks.
  • Hormones. Hormonal changes, like those that occur in the menstrual cycle, can affect genital herpes outbreaks. No one knows why yet.
  • Surgery, weak immune system. Trauma to the body, such as having surgery, may make herpes symptoms appear. Having a weakened immune system does, too. People whose immune systems are weakened by HIV or chemotherapy, for example, tend to have outbreaks more often than people with normal immune functioning do.

Remember that triggers may not be the same for everyone, and doctors are not certain how much lifestyle has to with outbreaks of herpes symptoms. If you think one triggers your symptoms, ask your doctor what you should do about it.

Recommended Related to Genital Herpes

The Basics About Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), of which there are two types. Type 1 (HSV-1) usually causes oral herpes, an infection of the lips and mouth. Symptoms are commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters. In the past, HSV-1 was not known to cause genital herpes, but that is changing, especially among people who begin having sex at a young age. Still, in most cases, genital herpes is caused by the second type of herpes virus (HSV-2). HSV-2 lives in the...

Read the The Basics About Genital Herpes article > >

For more guidance about relieving emotional stress, see How To Tell Your Partner or What to Do if Your Partner Has Herpes.

You may also find reassurance by clicking on Re-Entering the Dating Scene and Sex and Herpes.

For more information and help understanding words you may hear about genital herpes, see Resources and the Glossary.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Debbie Bridges, MD on August 06, 2012
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

STD Overview
Slideshow
BHC Healthy Sex Life
Quiz
 
things your guy wish you knew slideshow
Slideshow
Sex Drive Killers 03
Slideshow
 
Genital Herpes Risks Quiz
Quiz
Young couple holding hands
Quiz
 
Hepatitis Prevent 10
Feature
Herpes Vaccine Study
Video
 
Daughter Development Evaluator
Article
HPV Vaccine Future
Article
 
STD Facts Quiz
Quiz
mother and daughter talking
Tool
 

WebMD Special Sections