Oral sex

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    I was diagnosed with genital herpes about a year ago. If I am not in outbreak mode, can I pass herpes onto another person simply by kissing them? What about performing oral sex?

    Dr. Kelly

    Do you know whether you have HSV1 or HSV2? Also, you would need to know the status of your partner for a more precise answer. If you only have HSV2 genitally, then you will not pass that on orally to a partner by kissing them. In this scenario, you can also give and receive oral sex without the fear of transmission. HSV2 is rarely found in the mouth (less than 1% of the time)


    Dr Kelly,

    I have recently been diagnosed with HSV 1, which I have experienced my initial outbreak genitally. My doctor has told me I have contracted herpes by receiving oral sex from a partner with a cold sore. I have so many questions. Can or will I have outbreaks orally or just genitally? If a partner performs oral sex during a period where I am not having any outbreak will I cause them to have oral lesions? Although I have no oral lesions can I pass this on by kissing or performing oral sex? I’m sorry for all my questions, I just feel overwhelmed with what if questions. Thank you for your time, Dr. Kelly really and truly.



    Hi Marissa,

    I’m not Dr. Kelly but I have the same thing as you (gHSV1) so I’ve read up quite a bit.

    You will only have outbreaks genitally, assuming you don’t also have oHSV1. (It’s extremely rare to get the same type in both places though. I read that this only happens if you contract it at the same time, but I don’t know that for sure.) Because you have gHSV1 and not oHSV1, you can’t pass it on by kissing or by you giving oral sex.

    However, it is possible for a partner to contract it orally from you through them giving you unprotected oral sex, even without a sore due to shedding. But gHSV1 sheds very infrequently (after the first 6-12 months)–only 3-5% of the time. I found this handout very helpful, though I wish it gave its sources: http://herpesopportunity.com/downloads/herpes-opportunity-disclosure-handout.pdf

    Hope this helps!


    Hi Dr. Kelly,

    I recently was diagnosed with HSV2 and it came as a complete shock to me. I was already in a relationship and was always faithful. My boyfriend has been extremely supportive but our sex life has had many changes. My boyfriend tested negative for both types of herpes. We have started to use condoms but what is really bothering me is oral sex. I know it is fine for him to receive it since I do not have HSV1 and he is clean, but how about for me? Do I have to use a dental dam from now on or is it safe for him to give me oral sex without one? I am also taking an antiviral each day and try to take other remedies (multi vitamin, lysine, vitamin c, lauricidin) I read in your book to help prevent outbreaks and viral shedding. I just so worried I will pass it onto him and there is so much misinformation on the internet I am confused with what is safe and what is not. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!


    I’m sorry I am very new to this group (pinktent) and I may not be any help to you, but I just wanted you to know that you helped me. I read your post and I quickly related to your story and questions. I was recently diagnosed with HSV2. It was a HUGE shock to me because I too have been in long term relationships and always have been faithful. So to the point I just wanted you to know that I am thankful for your post because I’ve felt like no one understood truly how I felt. You know shocked and with tons of questions. Sorry if this is too random, but thank you.
    Take care,



    Let me start by saying it is not random at all! I am glad you don’t feel alone. I felt the same way for months. I found out in November and it took me until now to even write a post. I am still having a hard time with it. All of a sudden I feel disconnected from people I see everyday, like I am hiding something. I have always been an open book and now I feel like it is all I think about and can’t talk about it. I’ve been trying to act outwardly okay for months when I didn’t feel it. I do have my boyfriend and some close friends I shared with, but I feel like for the amount it is actually on my mind, I speak out it only a fraction of the time.

    I am also new to Pink Tent, that was my first post. Glad someone responded! 🙂



    I would also really love the answer to Chris’s original post! There is so much confusing information online about the whole oral sex debate. One doctor I spoke to said she didn’t feel there was any way HSV2 would be passed on orally but then other doctors have said they would be abstain from oral sex totally so as not to risk passing it on to a partner…. That is one thing I am not willing to give up in my sex life but it is really hard to ask that of someone when the information out there is so spotty.


    Hi Ladies,
    I’m very confused as well. Never had any symptoms that I was aware of, made it to 53 years old without even a yeast infection. This past week I had an outbreak. My GYN tested for 1 and 2. Blood test came back seropositive for HSV2.( 7.6) Apparently Im one of those asymptomatic gals and my immune system has been dealing with it thus far. Who knows when I got it.I’ve only had 4 sexual partners in 27 years!. Married for 22 ( none of this really matters I don’t guess) Blood test came back negative for HSV 1, Culture came back positive for gHSV 1, I had not had sex for a year, then met a great guy in November. Did not have sex until Jan. Nothing. Then about 2 weeks ago had sex again with him and 5 days later….whammo. He never had symptoms either (or so he says). He has been supportive, but I’m bracing for the fade out….I hope not because I really care so much for him. Anyway, I have no clue what we can and cant do. I’ve been doing nothing but research, however having both isn’t something I’ve been able to find much info on. any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Heres my questions:
    – Can I kiss him without infecting him with either 1 or 2 ? My Gyn is almost 100% sure he gave me the gHSV1 He has had cold sore, but can I give him HSV 1 genitally?

    -Can I give oral to him?
    -Can he give oral to me?
    – Do I only shed in the area where the outbreak ocurred? Mine is mostly around the rectum.
    – How would I ever know where the shedding would ocur for the HSV 2 if I’ve never had an outbreak?
    – Is it possible to have a simultaneous outbreak of gHSV1 and gHSV2?
    I guess intercourse would just have to be protected with condoms and for now I’m taking Valtrex. If he tests HSV 2 positive then would we have to use condoms?

    OMG, Im sooooo confused! So grateful for any advice.
    Hugs to you all: )


    I would also love the answer to the original question. I was diagnosed about six months ago and I am afraid to do anything sexual. Would really appreciate more education on the matter.


    I am still wondering as well, Dr. Kelly said HSV2 is found in the mouth less than 1% of the time. I am confused if that is with or without protection of a dental dam. Also is this 1% without using antivirals? If I use antivirals and no dam am I basically safe?

    Still confused and frustrated. Feeling kind of gypped in my sex life right now.



    If you are taking Antiviral meds & you have gHSV1 is it okay to receive oral sex? My thoughts are if your partner already has oHSV1 than this wouldn’t be much of an issue because they already have the virus (so you wouldn’t be passing it on). Is this correct?

    Is there a high risk of transmitting this virus while receiving oral sex with gHSV1 while taking antiviral meds to someone who doesn’t already have oHSV1? If so, does anyone know the stats on this? I guess it would be more risky to receive oral sex from someone who doesn’t have oHSV. Any thoughts, comments, stats would be greatly appreciated:) thank you.

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