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Genital herpes (HSV-1) and oral sex?

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I've tried searching for similar topics but can't seem to find my answer.

I have GHSV1 and im taking the Valtrex everyday.  I was wondering if unprotected oral sex or unprotected sex was still something safe to do when there are no outbreaks.  We used to do oral sex all the time but now since my diagnosis, we don't because i am not sure of the transmission risk.  I have only had one outbreak and it lasted about 6 weeks.  

Thank you

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You should be safe if you are not experiencing prodrome symptoms and have no outbreak lesions. 🙂 

Hypothetically, you could be shedding the virus at any given time. Keep in mind that HSV-1 has a lower risk of transmission in general. The fact that you are taking suppressive Valtrex lowers the risk of transmission even more! For HSV-2 passed from female to male during unprotected penetrative sex, the risk of transmission is 4%. When using a condom OR antiviral suppressants, that number drops to 2%. These numbers should be lower for GSV-1. So, in your situation, it is possible the risk is <2%!  Sadly, there aren't stats about oral sex, however I would assume the risk is also lower for HSV-1 and when taking suppressive medication. 

I hope this helps! 

Stay kind to yourself ❤️ 


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  • mr_hopp changed the title to Genital herpes (HSV-1) and oral sex?

Here's something interesting to ponder: It's actually around 3x more likely that someone will get oral HSV-1 via kissing than from going down on a partner with genital HSV-1 (assuming no active outbreak, of course).

HSV-1 is the same virus that causes 98% of all cold sores (oral herpes), which the majority of the world has. So most people who kiss are taking this risk of passing oral HSV-1.

Oral HSV-1 sheds 9-18% of the time. Genital HSV-1 sheds 3-5% of the time. (Download the e-book + handouts for more helpful stats.)

So this puts your question into a more realistic perspective since most people kiss without really thinking of the repercussions of passing cold sores to one another ... but all of the sudden it feels way more "risky" to go down on a partner with genital HSV-1. It's an odd puritanical double-standard that our culture is carrying (amongst many, to be sure). 

P.S. Don't get this confused with the other way around, by the way. Over half of all new genital herpes cases are from people who have cold sores going down on their partner, apparently unaware that oral HSV-1 can be transmitted to the genitals and – poof – magically transform into a stigmatized STI (even though it's the same virus, just in a different location). 

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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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I agree with Mr Hop which is why I think oral sex is safe if your partner has HSV 1 orally. 

Also the thing about oral HSV 1 and genital HSV1 and one suddenly being stigmatised is a good point. 

One thing that helps me put things into perspective was no longer using the term “genital herpes” or “oral herpes” and just calling it HSV 1 - when I was talking about that particular strain. It’s the exact same virus. 

E.g with acne, no one says “facial acne” or “back acne” if people have acne in different parts of their body. It’s just acne. Once you have HSV 1 you have HSV 1. Whether its in your eye, mouth, genitals, finger. I think location should only be considered if you were thinking about transmission/shedding but otherwise I never use the term oral or genital. I just say HSV 1 or HSV 2.  

Just my thoughts for people with HSV 1 who maybe be feeding into or giving into, the stigma

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  • 4 months later...

So adding on to this, now I have another question.

If I have the GHSV1 and my partner is presumably negative due to no symptoms.  We have unprotected sex most of the time since I've only had one outbreak.  If we have oral sex, is there a chance that I could get HSV1 orally as well? 

He doesn't have any symptoms so I dont even know if he has herpes.  I am just scared to get herpes orally as well, so if we have oral sex or if he gets it orally for going down on me or vice versa, what are the chances of either of us getting cold sores.  

I just need help working through my train of thought I guess.  

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Hey @AlliKat12 So prior to 2015 you tested negative for HSV1? I assume something happened that you wanted to test in 2015? Have you tested for HSV2 since 2022? I am asking how are you certain that you have GHSV1? I have HSV1 and in a relationship with my SO who has HSV1 orally since childhood. She is not the one that infected me and I worry about passing my strain to her gentially. She  gets a cold sore on her mouth once in a blue. I've had it since 2016 and never had an OB but get nueropathy in different areas.

I worry about passing it to her either through intercourse or receptive oral. So I am very interested in your experience and anyone else's who are in a similar situation

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@Seeker1960 I slept with someone in 2015 that I found out after was questionable.  So I got a full STD panel and it came back with the HSV1 antibodies.  I never really thought of it again since I had no symptoms.  I had an STD panel in 2013 and was negative for any HSV.

I ended up getting small cuts on my genital region in May of 2022 and I got them swabbed but it came back negative.  The doctor even told me that if it was herpes, it probably wouldnt come back positive because their was no liquid or puss to swab.   About 2 months after that, I kept getting the small cuts every now and then but then I started getting lesions and blisters in the same area.  So i went back to the doctor and got them swabbed again.  My test results were positive for HSV1 and negative for HSV2.  

So I assumed I got infected somewhere between 2013 and 2015 and thats how I got the antibodies for HSV1 but never had another outbreak again until this year.  

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10 hours ago, AlliKat12 said:

I got a STD panel in 2015 and it came back positive for HSV1 antibodies.  I didn't have any outbreaks until July of 2022.  So technically I guess I have had this since 2015. 

Then this is an established infection and since you have it on genital area this protects you from getting it orally unless you are immunocompromised. Even then there is really small chance to get HSV on other location after having it for several years.

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Thank you @Bloomer.  That is what I was assuming but I wanted to make sure.

So far my boyfriend has shown no signs of HSV and we have been together for over four years.  At this point, he might be positive for it and just not be experiencing any outbreaks.  

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