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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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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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