Oral Sex and Herpes

9 years ago

 Eeewwww! I know, I know, this isnot exactly the kind of thing people want to talk about unless they’re worried that they may have gotten something “Down There.”

The truth is that people are at risk for becoming infected with herpes from receiving oral sex. Here are the basics:


  • About 60% of people have the herpes virus (Type 1) around their mouth.

  • Most people who have Type 1 herpes became infected as children from an innocent exposure from friends or relatives.

  • Some people get cold sores from Type 1 Herpes 1 or 2 times each year. 
  • When a cold sore is present, it may last for 1-3 weeks.

  • There are safe and effective medications to prevent cold sores and to treat them if there’s an outbreak. 
  • Valtrex and Acyclovir are very effective.

  • People can shed the virus and can pass it on to others even when they DON’T have a cold sore.


This might be more than a little scary. Here’s the deal. Before you consider having oral genital contact with someone, ask yourself a few questions:


  1.  Do you get cold sores?

  2.  Does your partner get cold sores?

  3.  Are either of you unsure?


If you both already have coldsores, then you can’t give Type 1 Herpes back and forth to each other, and also can’t get Type 1 Herpes on your genitals.

If only one of you gets cold sores, or you’re not sure, it’s best to be tested to see what else you might be sharing besides a good time! Find out what else you might be picking up from your partner! Women are 6 - 7 times as likely to be infected with Herpes as Men are.  You're right, it's not fair! 

If you want to be tested for Herpes, ask your health care provider to order a Type Specific Blood Test. I like the HerpeSelect test, because it’s highly accurate and there are few false positives or negatives. This type of test is what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends as the best way to be tested. This test is highly sensitive and specific, which means they can distinguish between type 1 Herpes and type 2. These tests are done on the blood, so a person who wants to be "tested for everything" should also ask for the Herpes Type Specific Test.

A person can be tested for Type 1 herpes, which usually causes sores around the mouth and nose, though can be the cause of genital lesions.
Type 2 herpes is usually found in the genitals and can also be detected by this blood test.

People who have herpes can transmit the virus even when there are no symptoms present! That’s right, you don’t have to have a big ugly coldsore to shed the virus and infect a partner. For more information see: www.ashastd.org

To read more about women’s health and sexuality see my blog at www.NurseBarb.com



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