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The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur.
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This may be due to male-to-female transmissions being more likely than female-to-male transmission. HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found in and released from the sores that the viruses cause, but they also are released between outbreaks from skin that does not appear to be broken or to have a sore.
Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection.
Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years. Results of a nationally representative study show that genital herpes infection is common in the United States.
Nationwide, at least 45 million people ages 12 and older, or one out of five adolescents and adults, have had genital HSV infection.