Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Sexual contact is the primary way that the virus spreads. After the initial infection, the virus lies dormant in your body and can reactivate several times a year. Recurrent Genital Herpes. If you have recently made it through a first episode that consisted of full-blown symptoms, you know something . People with herpes simplex 1 (HSV1 or herpes type 1) - which causes most herpes outbreaks above the waist – causes much less attacks and less severe symptoms than herpes simplex 2 (HSV2), which typically causes genital herpes symptoms.