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Herpes, Oral Sex and Dental Dams

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I have genital herpes, HSV2. I’m seeing a guy who is not aware of my status yet but we have not had sex. He has been very patient with me, tells me when I’m ready and comfortable then we will be intimate. We agreed to hold off on sex to get to know each other when we first met (November) and started dating. Then about four weeks into our dating, I found out the bad news. Right now, I haven’t really felt like having sex since being diagnosed (in December), but I know he’s not going to be patient forever. I think the thing holding me back is fear of giving it to him. He was at my house on Sunday and mentioned how he wanted to be with me but said that only when I was ready and able to...my stomach just knotted up. Part of me wants to be with him but the other part is scared.


I know there is a risk of him catching it orally and the risk is very low from what I've read. I just want to protect him as much as possible, if and when, the time comes that we do have sex and he’s still in the picture. What are your thoughts on dental dams? Do you use them? Do they work? What was your experience like? Can you still feel when using one? How did your partner react to using one? What’s a good brand? I’ve looked at them online and even watched a youtube video on how to use them. I just wanted to get some feedback from those of you who have had experience with them.


I just want to know I'm doing everything possible to protect him. I do take daily meds (Valacyclovir) and would always use a condom and never have sex during an OB. I plan on telling him very soon (recuperating from surgery so I have about 5 more weeks before I can have sex). In the meantime, I am trying to get my ducks in a row with facts on things so I can give him accurate information when we have “the talk” and I'm hoping he doesn’t run for the hills when I say the “H” word.

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Hey beachluvr!


I love that you're wanting to keep this guy as safe as possible. Your integrity is showing. :) Also notice if it's verging on paranoia, too. It's a healthy balance of wanting to keep a partner safe and stressing out over a miniscule chance of HSV-2 spreading to the mouth via viral shedding. Only 1-2% of oral herpes cases are HSV-2 (the rest are HSV-1), so there is such a teeny tiny possibility of him getting it orally. In fact, one of the top herpes doctors in the US came to our in-person support group and said outright that no one who has genital herpes should avoid receiving oral sex, that the risk of passing genital HSV-2 to the mouth is so small in all the cases he's seen that it's practically nothing. And it's still up to both you and him deciding what level of risk you're both willing to take on. Here's where he talks about it in our interview (which I would suggest you watch the whole thing!):


Ultimately, when it comes time to disclose, it's awesome to have options available for him to see you know your stuff and that you have your attention on keeping him safe. This includes trying out dental dams to see how both of you feel about it. But you don't have to make all the hard-and-fast (pun intended) decisions ahead of time quite yet! :) When the time comes, you two can play together on what feels right to both of you, in partnership. It can be an exploration!


... and here are some previous forum discussions on the topic of herpes and oral sex:




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I used dams in the past, they work great! They are a bit expensive and you often have to buy them online depending where you live. You can make one out of a condom by rolling it out, snipping the tip and cutting up the side to make a squarish looking sheet. However I like saran wrap (use the non-microwavable kind) because you can make the dam as big as you need to, I find cutting condoms are great but they are small. You can put some lube on the vaginal area to enhance the experience.

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