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Options for performing oral sex for a person with oral herpes

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I am a young man with oral herpes (i.e. I have had cold sores on my lips). I want to perform oral sex on my female partner. What are my options?

Overview of my condition
I have had herpes since approximately 6th grade. My outbreaks are infrequent, maybe 2-4 years apart or even more. I treat outbreaks with valacyclovir and the outbreaks are usually short and not severe. I have never been tested, so I don’t know if I have HSV1 or HSV2. 

Details on the question

I know herpes can be transmitted through viral shedding. I realize my partner and I have to accept some risk for me to perform oral sex on her: I want to better understand what that risk is.

How does daily suppressive valacyclovir or a dose hours before oral sex affect the risk?

Does having chapped lips or a pimple near the mouth affect the risk?

If my partner was to get genital herpes, what are the consequences? Does it affect childbirth? Will it result in consistently painful sex? From what I’ve read, my chances of contracting genital herpes are low because I already have antibodies.

Thank you for your help.


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Hey there! Great questions. And yes, over half of new genital herpes cases are from a partner with oral herpes (cold sores) performing oral sex on their partner. And when you aren’t having an outbreak, it’s actually a low chance, especially since you’re aware that you have herpes and it’s transmissible. Because most of the spread of herpes is due to ignorance. So many people aren’t aware that oral herpes can spread to the genitals via oral sex, so they go down on their partners during an active outbreak! But you wouldn’t do that because you know better. And that makes it that much less likely that it’ll spread.

Something to consider is to have your partner get a western blot test to see if she has any herpes antibodies (the vast majority of people in the world do, so chances are she has HSV-1 antibodies already). If she is already a carrier, then she would also have that much more of a natural defense against HSV-1 being spread to her genitalia by you going down on her. 

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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