Reducing Herpes Risk

Reducing Herpes Risk: How to Reduce Your Risk of Spreading or Getting Genital Herpes

There are a  number of things that we can do to reduce the risk of spreading herpes to our partners, or to reduce our risk of getting herpes from someone else.  By using these practices, many people have been successful in NOT  spreading herpes to their partner(s). Many people who have herpes have NEVER  spread it to a partner. However, there are no guarantees. Everyone has a  different situation. And your PARTNER’S health and immune system is also a  factor. But if you use some or all of these practices, your risk of transmitting  the virus to your partner(s) might be much much lower.

1) Make sure that both you and your partner(s)  have *actually* been tested for herpes. MOST people with genital herpes have few  or no noticeable symptoms. And believe it or not, MOST doctors do NOT include a test for herpes when they are testing their patients for other common STDs.  So 90% of the people who have genital herpes DON’T EVEN KNOW IT!  Reducing the risk of transmission of herpes and other  STD’s requires that both partners KNOW their status for herpes and other STD’s  PRIOR to becoming intimately involved.  Unless your partner has taken one of the newer, very reliable type-specific herpes blood  tests at least 12-16 weeks AFTER their last intimate encounter, there is  always the chance that they might have acquired the herpes virus prior to  sleeping with you.  This goes for other STDs as well. So if you have intimate  relations prior to your partner being tested, and they later develop symptoms  and test positive for herpes, you will NEVER KNOW if your partner got herpes  from you or if they had it BEFORE you, but just didn’t know it. Remember, 20-25% of  US Adults have genital herpes, but 90% of them DON’T KNOW IT. Asking your  partner(s) to get tested prior to your getting involved may seem awkward, but  unless you and your partner don’t care about spreading STD’s, it’s a very  reasonable thing to ask someone to do. Frankly, now that herpes is so easy to  diagnose via type-specific blood tests,  everyone should be doing this. The medical profession will eventually catch up…but in the meantime, we need to ask our partners to get tested for herpes  and other STD’s as soon as a physical relationship looks likely. Also, if you find out that your partner already has the virus for genital herpes, then you don’t have to worry about giving them an STD that they ALREADY have! Testing is part of the solution. Let’s be pro-active on the herpes testing front.

View or download this list of reliable blood tests for herpes, from the American  Society for Social Heath (ASHA) by clicking here.

If you want to be tested anonymously for Herpes or other STDs, check out services like, and others listed on our page for Herpes Diagnosis.

2) Condoms: These will only help prevent  transmission if the area that they cover is the same as the area where you or  your partner has outbreaks or asymptomatic shedding. In many cases, condoms  do not cover the area where the outbreaks or shedding occurs. Condoms still may  be effective as contraceptives.

3) Suppressive Therapy: In  studies,  Acyclovir and Valtrex (a derivative of Acyclovir/Zovirax) taken daily have been shown to  greatly reduce the risk of transmission to a non-infected partner. In one study, taking Acyclovir daily as suppressive therapy was so effective, that the percent of days that patients were shedding the virus was reduced to less than 1%!  So suppressive therapy along with the regular and proper use of condoms is highly effective in reducing your risk of transmitting herpes to a non-infected partner.
4)  Herbal/natural remedies: In addition to prescription drugs, there are a  number of herbal remedies that claim to have some positive benefits for people  with herpes. Some have proven benefits, while others are bogus, and still others  need more study. It has not been determined whether or not any herbal or natural  supplements have any effect on reducing the risk of HSV2 transmission. Maybe  yes, maybe no. But it would be nice to think maybe yes.
5)  Self-Monitoring: Some people can *tell* that they might be having an HSV2  outbreak – because they feel a tingling or other sensation – even if it never  turns into a sore or any other visible symptom. Many people feel things like  this in advance of a real outbreak. Other people may feel things like this – but  then the outbreak never happens. In any case, if you abstain from intimate  contact – from the moment you start feeling some tingling or any other unusual  sensation – whether or not it turns into an actual outbreak – then you are  likely to significantly reduce your risk of transmission. There are no published  studies about self-monitoring, so you just need to go by common sense.

6) Low-stress Lifestyle: Many believe that stress increases the  occurrence of herpes outbreaks. Stress may also decrease your auto-immune  defenses. So if you and your partner both avoid stress, you should theoretically  lower your risk of having outbreaks and being potentially infectious – as well  as lowering your risk of “catching” this or another virus from other  people.

There are so many things that you can do to help lower the  potential risk of transmitting HSV2 to your partner. Depending on your  particular situation, your risk might be higher – or lower.

Bottom line – is that you CAN  significantly reduce your risk of transmitting HSV2 to your partner, even when  you are having no outbreaks. If you take all of these precautions, you might, in  fact, be a safer partner than someone who has not been tested recently for STD’s  and is taking no particular precautions.  Just using a condom, for instance,  does not guarantee against the spread of many STD’s, including herpes. Since  most people have  not taken an HSV-2 type specific blood test at least 12-16  weeks after their last sexual partner, they might possibly be carrying  and  spreading the HSV2 virus without their knowledge, and may display no particular  symptoms.

The only difference between US and THEM (the general  population) is that we KNOW what we have and we can do something about it. At  least 20% of THEM are really part of US, but they just don’t know it. Asking our  potential partners to get tested may seem awkward, but just think of the favor  you will be doing for yourself and everyone else – if someone who has it,  finally learns that they have it and can start doing something about it.

For more information, we recommend that you check out our Herpes Links and Information Page.

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Yes, there are a few possibilities that might explain this:
1) He was also recently infected (within the last 3-4 months) and there hadn’t been enough time for enough antibodies to develop to be detected by a blood test.
2) He mistakenly assumed that the doctor gave him a blood test for herpes when he was tested for other STD’s. Most doctors do NOT include a blood test for herpes when they test their patients for other STD’s. Most people assume that they were tested for herpes, when this is usually NOT the case. Most people who have herpes have few or no noticeable symptoms and have never been tested for herpes, and they just assume they have been tested for everything and are clean. Also, many doctors are not up-to-date about herpes testing and do not know about the newer, more accurate herpes blood tests. Some out-of-date doctors will even discourage their patients from being tested unless they have noticeable symptoms. These are some of the reasons why herpes is so common, and most patients go undiagnosed.

AnnaLynne Diaz

At17, I had one partner for 7 months when I cntracted HSV-2. I had horrible symptoms: fever, body aches, loss of appetite, constipation, vaginal discharge, pain with urination, painful lesions on vulva and buttocks. I basically felt like I was going to die. I went to the OB/GYN and had both the lesions and my blood tested. The lesions came back positive but the blood came back negative. My doctor said that this meant I had recently been infected. I assume that means I got the virus from my partner at the time. He claimed that his blood came back negative (I never actually saw any results). Could he have recently contracted the virus and passed it to me before his blood could test positive?


How many mg are you taking daily? I’m sorry to hear that you’re in that kind of situation. As someone who gets fewer than 8 a year (I think that was the number my Gyno gave me… but it’s been awhile) she has me on 500 mg daily. If you’re a more frequent outbreaker, you can have a 1000 mg dose instead. Maybe if you’re only on 500, upping your dose is an option you can talk about with your doctor.

Also, look into l-lysine. It’s a supplement available at any drug store, no prescription. A diet with higher levels of lysine (and lower levels of argnine) is associated with less breakouts. So, I take 1000 mg of lysine a day as well, just because.


I take acyclovir as a daily suppressive therapy, and I still have outbreaks, about once every 2 months. My immune system is top notch, I very rarely catch a cold, and never get the flu, yet I continue to get the outbreaks even by taking the daily pill. I’ve had the virus for about 2 and a half years now. Anyone else still have outbreaks fairly frequently even while on suppressive therapy?


“How long after initial infection is it possible to have your first symptoms?”

From what I’ve read, it can take UP to 6 weeks to show up on a blood test. This doesn’t mean that it can’t show up earlier. To be honest, I wish I could give you a more straight up answer but it could have been any of the 3 partners. Both kinds of HSV can be in your body, dormant, for whatever reason, before deciding to physically appear…

If you’re on good terms with all 3 people I would contact them one at a time and ask them to help you out by getting tested 🙂 I hope they’re down to help! Let’s just say when I found out I had “more than 3” people to deal with, so to speak. One guy was a complete jerk to me and didn’t even want to help by getting tested. So, I never found out who gave it to me… Hopefully since you only have 3 people it will be easy to track it down. Best of luck!


Did you get tested for both HSV-1 and HSV-2? And you tested negative for HSV-2?

Most people will test positive for HSV-1 anyhow, because so many of us get HSV-1 from being kissed by friends and relatives at a young age. So you may have had HSV-1 (orally) since you were a child and just didn’t know it. Most people with HSV (either 1 or 2) have few or no recognizable symptoms and don’t even know they have it. You can have it for YEARS even, before you have a noticeable outbreak. Some people have symptoms right away, but most people don’t. It all depends on your own immune system and how well it handles things.

There are a number of possible scenarios:
– You already had HSV-1 orally, but now also have HSV-1 genitally from one of your past partners.
– You already had HSV-1 orally, but now have HSV-2 genitally from one of your past partners. (Needs another HSV-2 blood test in 2-3 months)
– You never had HSV-1 orally, and have contracted HSV-1 genitally from one of your past partners.
– You have HSV-1 orally and/or genitally, but your genital symptoms may be from something else entirely (you only know for sure what is causing your current outbreak using a swab-culture test)

It should also be pointed out that you can also get HSV-1 genitally through vaginal sex with someone else who has HSV-1 genitally.

So unfortunately, you may not be able to pinpoint exactly when you got HSV-1 or from whom you got it. Most people will test positive for HSV-1, but that doesn’t tell your WHERE they are shedding the virus. It could be oral. It could be genital. Most transmission of the virus happens when people don’t have any noticeable symptoms and don’t know that they might have any virus that’s possible to spread.

You should get tested again for HSV-2 in 12-16 weeks after your most recent partner. And if you experience active symptoms at any time, see your doctor right away to get a swab culture test. That’s the only way to really know if the symptoms you are experiencing genitally are HSV-1 or HSV-2 or something else altogether. Many people have HSV-1 orally and HSV-2 genitally. But either virus can be in either place. To be really sure, get the Western Blot test done. Contact Terri Warren and the Westover Heights Clinic in Portland, OR if your regular doctor will not sign off on a Western Blot test.


I have recently been diagnosed with HSV-1. I assume it is genital because I have only experienced minor symptoms in the genital area and these symptoms have occurred a couple weeks after receiving oral sex from a one time partner. I have read that herpes symptoms can occur days to weeks after contracting the virus, but I have also read that it takes 12 to 16 weeks for the virus to show up on a blood test. I tested positive for HSV-1 a couple weeks after receiving oral sex from the one time partner. My previous partner was a few months earlier, with whom I was having vaginal and oral sex with for about a week. My partner before that was a year ago, with whom I was in a year long relationship. Is it possible that I contracted HSV-1 from the recent oral sex I received, even though I got tested (blood test) only a couple weeks afterward? Or is it more likely that I already had HSV-1 prior to the one time oral sex encounter? I am confused because I only showed symptoms a couple weeks after the oral sex encounter (leading me to believe it was from her), but I received positive test results only a few weeks afterward (which has me questioning if I already had it). I chose to get tested after experiencing mild symptoms, and this was the only STD test I have ever taken. How long after initial infection is it possible to have your first symptoms? I seem to be reading a lot of contradictory information about herpes and I appreciate your help. Thank you.


Thanks for your post. But please note that you cannot be completely sure that you didn’t pass HSV to any of your previous partners just because they don’t say anything about it to you. It is totally possible for some of them to have herpes, but that they haven’t had any noticeable symptoms and have never been tested for it. The absence of noticeable symptoms does NOT mean that someone does not have herpes. The only way to know for sure is to test for antibodies, and most doctors do NOT include a test for herpes in their regular STD testing panel unless you ask for it. Most people don’t know to ask. So it’s impossible for you to know for sure that you didn’t ever possibly pass herpes to any of your previous partners.

Paul Atreides

I have had HSV-2 since the age of 16 (I’m now in my late 30’s). I got it from my girlfriend of the time, who did not realize that she had acquired it from her prior boyfriend. Being that age, neither of us were actively involved in clinical inspections of questionable genital issues, not that I can recall there being anything questionable (she had many other ‘female’ problems, so the issue was easily attributed to existing ones).

She called me after she found out (and had already passed it to me) in tears, heavily concerned what it would mean for her future. Okay, so she was a bit self centered… welcome to teenage life, weren’t we all?

After the initial outbreak, I didn’t even think about it. At that time there was no data in the public domain regarding ‘viral-shedding’; it was believed to spread it, you had to have an active breakout.

In the time period since, despite a large quantity of unprotected sex with multiple ‘low risk’ partners, no-one was infected (I know this as I have remained friends with them over the long term). A great time later (about 16 years), I had a second outbreak. Luckily for me the area is fairly small and contact easily avoidable. I was however in a committed relationship at the time, and after that occurrence I decided to take proactive measures to protect partners or potential partners (despite my real world experience), as by then it had been shown that ‘viral-shedding’ might indeed occur while one remained otherwise asymptomatic. I started treatment with Acyclovir @ 400mg’s per day, every day, and have continued that regimen to the present day.

I know and am glad that my particular circumstances are optimal, as my body obviously holds the infection greatly in check just on its own, and now also receives extra assistance. Though there is no reliable method for measuring the likely-hood that you will pass on that infection, my doctor says given my specific long term circumstances that it’s probably less than 1%.

Like most here I have had issues with some relationships, their responding in the negative despite the realities. But far more often after a thorough, well presented explanation, it becomes a non-issue.

After all, despite the fact the ‘HSV’ group infections have no known cure… Neither does the common cold. With adequate treatment and preventative measures, most people with HSV will likely have very few outbreaks. Your potential mate will in most cases have many more incurable viral colds than you will ever have outbreaks given the same timeline. There literally is no real difference between the two, from that standpoint.

The Rhino-virus group is also incurable, causes many unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms, there is no 100 % practical defense against, and it can be acquired at anytime from anyone. People willingly have intimate contact with others who are clearly sick because they understand it’s temporary, and that even though they may get it from the act, it will be temporary for them as well. While HSV may always actually be there (largely dormant at the base of nerve clusters), it’s just as unpredictable, yet easier to defend against… and just as damaging, which is to say ‘trivially’.

HSV possess a stigma because of the areas it affects, but once the ignorance of the stigma is broken and it is viewed just as any other human pathogen, it losses that power we’ve given it and most logical people will cease to fear it. Anyone who either cannot or will not view it with that objectivity (required for all medicine), and is content to remain fearful and ignorant is not anyone you likely want to be friends with, to say nothing of pursuing a sexual relationship with them.

Of course individual risks of passing it on are different, and so individual strategy needs adjustment for highest efficacy. None of that changes the ignorance with which HSV is viewed.

As of 2008, according to Netter’s Obstetrics & Gynecology 2nd Edition (Roger Smith, MD), one in four women in the United States already has some form of HSV.


Same here but it’s not all that big of a deal. The average person with hsv2 sheds for 20% of the days of the year, but Valtrex suppressive therapy reduces that by a crap ton. 90-97% of those days get taken away and really, I wanna say you’re contagious like 5 days out of the year or something like that (that’s just an average. You could be a bit less or more).

All of these facts are from when I binged researched 3 years ago. Not that things have changed, but I don’t feel like finding all my old sources and providing them for EXACT numbers. Sorry. They were on an old computer that got stolen.

I’m really upset that your name is hopeless. I can’t say I haven’t felt my share of hopelessness throughout the past 3 years of having this (btw, acquired at age 19… young as hell), but having hsv is literally what you make of it. Have you ever heard of the term “self fulfilling prophecy”? It’s thrown around in my courses a lot. Here’s a good translation: “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive (or in this case negative) feedback between belief and behavior.”.

If you sit at home, cry all day long, insist that you’re now “damaged” and nobody will want you, and that you’ll be alone forever, then literally you WILL be alone forever. It takes courage and bravery but you have literally nothing to loose by throwing yourself out there and trying your best to date normally and deal with it. I was diagnosed in the summer, and for those months I was pretty miserable. Then fall started, and I went back to school and forced myself to continue dating, meeting men, and TRYING. Guess what? 8/10 it was a nonissue. Literally. I’ve had 2 boyfriends since then. Yes, some people turned me down and some people we’re jerks about it (ignored me afterwards), but who wants those kinds of toxic people in their lives anyway?

Sorry for the rant. I’m just sick of seeing all this poor me herpes stuff. Yes, it sucks. But it’s not the end of the world unless you make it so. <3

EDIT: took out a swear word. I had an * but I don't know how the mods are here. If you want no references to swearing, this comment is better.


Thank you for the info. I really wish there was a home kit that could be used to test and indicate that shedding faze.


You have no way of ever knowing which days you are asymptomatically shedding. If you feel any kind of tingle, or you’re sick and your immune system is weak, both are good indicators that you might be shedding.

suppressive therapy has no long term negative health effects, according to my OB/GYN. Valtrex is not an intense drug, and all it really does is “beef up your immune system” and give your body the ability to keep asymptomatic shedding down. It’s been statistically shown to reduce the amount of days a person can shed, per year, by 90%. This is just an average, but eliminating 90% of your potential shed days is amazing. This is why I’m on suppressive therapy. I never have had an outbreak since I first was diagnosed 3 years ago. I take this therapy to make sure I’m doing everything in my power to not give this to my boyfriend.

You should also look at taking L lysine. It’s an amino acid that has been found to be helpful with HSV outbreaks. People who can’t afford medication or don’t want to “take drugs every day” will take this supplement every day instead and it helps. I take 1000 mg of this per day along with my 50 mg of valtrex. Figure both is better than just one!


When you are shedding asymptomatically, there are no visible symptoms! The only way you would know for sure if you are shedding asymptomatically is if you are participating in a clinical study for herpes and they collect samples from your skin daily. Such studies don’t happen very often and may never happen where you live. Suppressive therapy is tolerated well by most people although for a small percent of people who already have liver issues, this might not be the case. Sounds like you have a lot of good questions, and it would be good for you to join the National HELP secret Facebook group to ask your questions to a panel of herpes support group leaders from all over the US. For info on how to join National HELP on Facebook (you can’t google it – you have to be invited) go to our page about Herpes Social and Support Groups.


Can you please help me answer a few questions…everyone talks about shedding or asymptomatic shedding. What are some of the ways I can track or identify when this happens? How long before a symptom presents itself am I contagious?

The other question I have is about suppression medication. What are the long term effects on your immune system and overall wellness?
Thank you for your attention.


Please join the National HELP Support Group (a secret group on Facebook) and ask your question there. If you have HSV-2 genitally, and if your partner does not, then it’s possible for you to spread it to your partner by genital contact, not kissing. There are very few cases of someone getting HSV-2 on their hands, but we cannot say that it’s impossible, however unlikely. The best thing for you and your partner to do is to BOTH get the type-specific herpes blood test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. If your partner already has what you have, then you don’t have to worry about giving them something that they already have. Also, unless both you and your partner get a complete STD screening INCLUDING herpes between partners, then you don’t know what other STD’s either of you might have and NOT KNOW IT. Most STD’s including herpes do not have noticeable symptoms for most patients.


Have HSV 2, genital can I give my partner the virus just by deep kissing? We have been making out and they know I have it. I am on daily suppressive therapy. I still don’t want them to get it from just kissing on the mouth. Also if touching my genitals with their hands will washing their hands immediately keep them safe??? Help please…


While we don’t know of any clinical studies that were designed to test whether or not it might be helpful for an HSV- person to take daily antivirals to reduce the odds of acquiring HSV from an HSV+ partner, one doctor who is HSV+ told us that she thought it might be helpful and had prescribed antivirals to her non-H partners. Of course, they always took other precautions as well, such as condoms, and no one got herpes from her. Later, she married someone who happened to also be HSV+ (acquired before they met). And they lived happily ever after…. Thanks for sharing.


sally anne

I am dating a guy who is HSV2 positive. I like him a lot and I am very grateful for the fact he had been so honest and caring. I think it has made him a much less selfish lover! We haven’t had full sex yet but I have already more pleasure than I could have hoped for and really want to pleasure him. I am going to get tested before we have full sex and he is going to ask his doc about anti-viral meds to help to protect me. We will also use condoms.

Question… Would it help to protect me if I took antivirals as well? I can’t find any information on this.


I also want to say that some people have herpes and may never know it – even if they get tested. I had my first and only outbreak 4 years ago that was diagnosed as genital herpes. I have taken several type specific blood tests and all came back negative. My doctor says it’s rare but can happen that a person can have herpes and it doesn’t show up in his/her blood. So if I had never had that one outbreak 4 years ago, there would be no way for me to know I was infected.


Please consult a doctor who has experience diagnosing herpes. A doctor can give you a herpes blood test which might be able to help determine if your infection was acquired recently or if your outbreak merely coincided with starting this sexual relationship. Only a doctor can help with your question. Good luck.


I was in a relationship with a man and I had a severe initial outbreak of HSV-2 40 days after we started having sex. Prior to my outbreak he complained of feeling feverish about 30 days after we started having sex and noticed some small pus filled blisters (3 small) on the shaft of his penis. They went away for him and then I got sick. I had 6 outbreaks in 1.5 mos. I’m on daily valacyclovir. Is he the one who gave me the virus? Is there any way of knowing? He was very supportive of me which makes me wonder if he knew he had the virus.


Yes, most people get HSV-1 unknowingly from being kissed on the face as a child by an adult who probably didn’t know they had it. 60-80% of people over 12 years old have HSV-1 and most of them don’t know it. Some people get cold sores and don’t realize that cold sores are herpes. If you have HSV-1 orally, it is possible to transfer it via oral sex to your partners. Most people have unprotected oral sex and don’t realize that they can get or pass an STD via oral sex. That’s why HSV-1 is so common. DWH

Jay Santiago

Is it possible to get Herpes by just kissing someone one time that didn’t know they had the virus , even if you didn’t sleep w/ them ?


You might be able to get a doctor’s prescription for Acyclovir at a discount from Planned Parenthood – but each regional Planned Parenthood office is different so we are not certain that your local Planned Parenthood will be able to help. Unfortunately, you can only get Acyclovir or Valtrex with a doctor’s prescription. Good luck.


How do you obtain the suppressive drugs/therapy if you have no access to a health care plan? PLEASE no obamacare cracks. I want to know if there are businesses that can offer any now, without a prescription. thanks


Sounds like you have already thought of some things that might help you further reduce the risk of transmission. I suggest you go to our page about “Herpes Support Groups” and follow the instructions to join the National HELP support group on Facebook. Maybe someone there can give you additional suggestions, but I doubt that there is any way to completely eliminate potential risk. Has your partner been tested? It’s possible that he may already have herpes without symptoms and just doesn’t know it yet. If he tests positive, then you can stop worrying about giving him something he already has. DWH


I have been living with HSV2 for 2 years. I have only had the rash around the perianal region from onset to now. I take acyclovir, eat healthy, exercise and always let my partners know what is going on. I always want to protect my partners- and insist that they take a shower each time after intercourse, and make sure they have no cuts scrapes near their genitals that may be easy access portals for the virus- However, I am unsure how effective condom use really is given the site of my infection? Is there any information on what can be done when the female infection is not vaginal? I would assume that avoiding certain positions would decrease transmission… any other ideas?


Many people take Valacyclovir or Acyclovir as suppressive therapy only when they are actually dating someone who has been tested negative for their type of herpes. There is no need to take these medications when you are not sexually active. However, it’s good to take them daily for at least 2 weeks before becoming sexually active with someone. There is information already on this website about recommended dosages. There are also support group leaders on National HELP who are extremely knowledgeable and can answer your questions more specifically. Please check out our web page about Support Groups for information on how to join National HELP. Good luck.



I’m a woman who contracted HSV1 genitally by receiving oral sex from a guy who (beyond turning out to be an absolute jerk) did not tell me he suffered from cold sores, but his immunity was likely compromised at the time we were intimate due to a bad cold and therefore he was likely shedding asymptomatically. Everything about contracting it, the diagnosis, and treatment at the particular medical establishment I landed on, was traumatic and demoralizing.

I thought my love life was going to be over, until I fell in love with someone who happened to suffer from cold sores and who didn’t care about my diagnosis. For a while, I felt life had finally given me a break after so many blows. I almost never got outbreaks and we never seemed to pass it back and forth. Despite how easy-going he was about it, HSV1 had always been in the back of my mind, so for a while I even tried to self-medicate half-doses of Valtrex tablets (following recommendations I read online) for fear of ever having my partner contract it genitally. I did this until a doctor convinced me how needless this was seeing as he too was a carrier of the virus. After a couple of years together, our relationship has now crumbled and I find myself single again; terrified of being single to say the least. I can’t help but feel like damaged goods, despite the stats saying otherwise. Having lost the man I thought was going to be my life-partner has been hard enough, I dread becoming intimate with future partners and having to have “the talk”, especially without being able to assure I won’t pass this on.

Doctor consultations and online reading keep giving me contradictory information. If I were to I meet someone who doesn’t have HSV1, despite having infrequent outbreaks, should I take suppressive treatments not to risk giving them the virus? I hate the thought of having to take meds for the rest of my life, but it’s a small price I’m willing to pay for love and the safety of my partner. Can this have long-term negative side effects I should me aware of? and will I be lowering my natural immunity/ability to fight the virus?

In Canada, doctors will tell you there is no such thing as a suppression therapy for HSV1 occuring genitally (only HSV2) or that you shed asymptotically no matter what (despite studies pointing to the contrary) so even getting a prescription for drugs is difficult. I’m guessing I would have to claim having an outbreak at the moment and break Valtrex tablets in half to correspond to the approximate daily doses recommended online… but how long would I have to keep up that game? Surely, there must be professionals aware of alternatives? Below I see you recommending Valacyclovir or Acyclovir (daily? in what dosage?). Since suffering from HSV1 genitally seems to be more rare, can you please help me understand what all my options are for having some semblance of a normal sex life again? Thank you.


Everyone is different and it’s impossible to give you any sort of exact “chances” of getting herpes from a partner. If he is taking daily antiviral meds as suppressive therapy, and you are using condoms, and not having intimate contact when he is having symptoms, then the risk of him shedding the virus might be 2-5% of days. Just because he is possibly shedding the virus occasionally does NOT mean that you will automatically get it too. A lot depends on YOUR OWN HEALTH and IMMUNE SYSTEM. The healthier your habits and your immune system, that would further reduce your risk of acquiring HSV from a partner. But chances are – you already have HSV1 since 60-80% of adults do – and don’t know it. It’s also possible that you already have HSV2 but don’t know it. Frankly, so many people have HSV1 and/or HSV2 – with few or no noticeable symptoms – that it’s crazy that there is still a stigma. For most people, HSV has few or no symptoms and does not affect their daily lives. People with HSV still fall in love, get married, have children, lead healthy lives. Good luck and kudos to you for getting tested! Let us know how the tests come back. DWH


I just recently started dating a male that has HSv2. I have been tested for everything but the virus. I am clean. I have just had a blood test to see if I have it because I have never had a single symptom. My partner is great at taking meds everyday and does not have outbreaks often. I am super interested in long term with him. I am just sad and scared. What are my risks of getting the virus from him?


If you have genital HSV-2, then the virus usually resides in the ganglia of your spinal cord. Outbreaks and Asymptomatic Shedding occur when the virus travels from the spinal cord through the nerve endings to the surface of your skin. Even though shedding most likely occurs in the same place where you experience outbreaks, it is possible that you may have occasional outbreaks or asymptomatic shedding anywhere in the boxer shorts area – your waist to your thighs. This possibility is hard to quantify and is different for every person. You may or may not ever shed the virus anywhere except the usual place. The best ways to protect your partner is:

– Tell your partner so that both of you can take responsibility for being careful and taking precautions to prevent spreading the virus.
– Ask your partner to take a type-specific IgG blood test for HSV-1 and HSV-2 before any sexual contact. See Herpes Diagnosis.
– Take Valtrex or Acyclovir daily as Suppressive Therapy.
Always use condoms
– Refrain from sexual contact when you are having a prodrome (tingling, etc) or having an active outbreak.

Good luck! DWH


One other question….first thanks for your insight…you are helping more than you can possibly realize.

I rarely have a breakout. Maybe once every two years and it typically one or two tiny blisters on the underside of my penis…I can definitely feel it coming for at least two weeks before…sometimes if I relax and rest myself, avoid sex, I can surpress an outbreak. I dont take any valtrex or anything…….so I guess my question is it possible when I am shedding, that I am shedding on another part of my body and I dont know it. I feel confident using a condom…. when I do finally have to talk with her… there’s agood chance I will not pass this to her


There is a very small possibility that someone could become infected with the herpes virus via contact with their hands. If you were shedding the virus (and there is no way of knowing exactly when you might be shedding asymptomatically), then it’s possible that some of the virus might have been transferred to her hands. Then, if she touched another part of her body, there is a very small possibility that she could become infected that way. The risk is pretty small, but you cannot say that there is absolutely no risk. Whatever happens between you and any of your current or future partners – you should strongly recommend that ALL of them get a type-specific blood test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 prior to sexual contact with you (or the next person).

Most people, including your friend, will test positive for HSV-1. Due to the popularity of oral sex, HSV-1 is now the cause of 30% or more of new cases of genital herpes infections. So if your friend gets tested, she’ll probably test positive for HSV-1, and unless she never wants to participate in oral sex again, she could potentially spread HSV-1 to a partner via oral sex. So there is always some sort of risk that people need to realize they are taking whenever they have any kind of sex. Most doctors do NOT include a blood test for HSV-2 when they are testing their patients for common STD’s. So your friend or her ex may already have HSV-1 or HSV-2 and NOT EVEN KNOW IT. Most people do not have recognizable symptoms and don’t realize that they might have an STD that might be spread to others. If 20% of adults in the USA have HSV-2, but 90% of them DON’T EVEN KNOW IT, it means that you cannot just assume that your partners don’t have herpes or another STD- just because they *think* they are *clean.* No Symptoms does NOT mean No STD’s. Everyone should get tested!

If you are taking daily Valacyclovir as suppressive therapy, and using condoms every time, and avoiding sex when you have active outbreaks, then you are doing about as much as you can to reduce the risk of transmission to your partners. If you are doing all of that, then you are probably a safer sex-partner than most other people, 20% of whom may already have HSV-2, but don’t even know it, and are not taking any precautions to prevent transmission.

You are not dirty just because you have HSV-2. You just happen to KNOW you have something. And you are smart enough to take precautions to help protect your partner. You may be pleasantly surprised when you realize that people value their relationship with you more than the risk of getting a very manageable virus. But always disclose and give your partners the information and the choice. Good luck! DWH


I hate this…I absolutely hate this….A girl that I have been friends with for the past two years who was married is getting a divorce (he husbands doing). We became close friends and wished we could be more but never crossed that line. We just felt a strong connection. We ll I never really worried that I would have to tell her that I have HSV2.

Since she is now getting a divorce, and we both feel strongly for each other, intimacy is on the table. We have not had sex yet, but we have come close, the only thing we have done is pleasuring each other via our hands. I rarely get break outs but I did have one a few day after a lengthy (hand relief session with no lubrication…ouch) I was also stressed over her situation to so I guess it was the perfect storm for a outbreak.

SO my big question is first off from her hand alone can she contract anything even if I was most likely NOT shedding. There were no sores or anything. I guess the other question is we were together the night before I had my out break ( again no symptoms until the next morning) and my genitalia came in contact with her skin (pelvic region but above the pubic region) can she contract it this way as well?

I am sorry to ask these questions but I have heard so much contradictory info that I am so confused

I know I have to tell her and I am scared shitless that she will end it even with our strong connection. She has been with 1 man in her life and is a very “Ewwwwwwww STD” type girl. I love her so much that I would die if I passed this to her. Please advise.


Unless you were previously tested for herpes, there is no way of knowing absolutely for sure who gave you herpes. It’s possible that you got it from this new partner, but it is also possible you got it from a previous partner. You and your partner should both get tested for herpes. For new infections, get a swab test from an open sore ASAP. If there is not enough virus in the swab sample, the test might come back negative. You should also get an IgG type-specific herpesblood test now. If that comes back negative, you should get tested again in 3-4 months to give time so enough antibodies can be formed to be detected in a blood test. Your partner should also get an IgG type-specific herpes blood test right now and perhaps again in a few months if he/she has had sexual relations with anyone else in the last few months. Good luck! DWH


If I had my first outbreak 4 days after a new partner , would that mean I contracted the virus prior to sexual contact with this new person ?


It is pretty much pointless to speculate which of these partners was the source of your current herpes outbreak. It could have been any of these people – or someone that one of you slept with years ago. The fact that you both had outbreaks simultaneously probably means that one of you most likely infected the other, and that your didn’t each contract the virus separately. Either of you could have had the virus for months or even years and not had any noticeable symptoms until now. That’s entirely possible and happens to a lot of people. So it’s even entirely possible that one of you contracted genital herpes months or years ago and just didn’t notice any symptoms until now. Or it could have come from a more recent partner. Lessons learned – always use protection and make sure that both partners take a type-specific herpes blood test 3-4 months after your last partner. If you are in open relationships, take the type specific herpes blood tests (and tests for other STD’s) more regularly. DWH


I am in an open relationship.
My partner and I are awaiting test results but all evidence suggest that we have contracted Herpes.
Both of us starting showing symptoms on roughly the same day.
I last slept with my partner(no condom) roughly 3-4 days prior to this.

1 day prior to this(5 days prior to symptoms) my partner slept with someone else( without a condom i am now informed) [A]

Roughly 2 weeks prior to this my partner slept with someone else(condom in use) [B]

The last time previous to this that she slept with anyone was 6months+ prior.[C]
The last time i slept with anybody else was over 6 months ago.[C].

Assuming our tests come back positive( i don’t know the reliability of our tests, we are in Australia) what is the likelihood(very speculative i know) that the virus was contracted from:
-Person [A] (seems almost certain given the coincidence of out symptons and proximity to this encounter).
-Person [B]
-[C] someone that one of us slept with over 6 months ago(various encounters, mostly protected but not entirely including regular partners.

Thanks, R.


I have recently come to believe I may have HSV-2 and will have a blood screening in the upcoming weeks, and then again in four months. Should I test positive, I’m honestly not very concerned with actually having the virus. Unless I am among those with extreme and/or frequent discomfort, or visible lesions, I can deal with private and minor discomfort every now and then.

My greatest fear is knowing I can spread it at pretty much anytime through any sexual activity. I’m sure many people do not feel as casually about living with the virus, nor would I ever want to know I caused someone more extreme symptoms. If I do have HSV-2, I’m worried I’ll never be able to comfortably enjoy sex with someone unless: they carry the virus as well, or we’re married and they share my feelings regarding having the virus and its symptoms. The latter means I will never feel comfortable with pre-marital sex with any non-carrier outside of wrapping my entire genital region in plastic wrap lol

I realize informative sites try to be as encouraging as possible with the truth, as they should. But there’s just some things that cannot be sugar coated. Spontaneous, passionate and inhibited sex is the most enjoyable kind. All the advice these sites list, at the very least cut back on the spontaneity, and at worst make some major acts essentially pointless. (Unless theres an experienced person that can look me in the eye and tell me oral sex with contraception isn’t pointless??) Worst of all, a lack of inhibitions often goes a long way towards intimacy, and that’s just not possible knowing there’s always a risk.

The biggest question I have; are there any products / strategies that actually make spontaneous/inhibited anywhere near possible? I’ve done some searching, but so far have only found the typical advice. However, knowing all the sexual paraphernalia they have in general, is it crazy to think there’s a line of products geared towards making this possible out there? Perhaps undergarments designed specifically with this in mind; or contraceptive devices designed specifically for oral sex.

I realize having herpes means some things must change, and some sacrifices must be made in most cases. But at this point, I don’t think I’d want to have sex at all outside of the exceptions I listed previously. It just seems like something that only leads to disappointment or resentment. Am I completely wrong here?

My thanks goes out to the people that run and maintain this site either way. But any up-front advice you have regarding this would be greatly appreciate.



Most doctors do not have any problem prescribing antiviral medications such as Valacyclovir or Acyclovir to treat genital herpes. If your doctor is unwilling to prescribe antiviral medications, you should either insist that he read up on the latest information regarding herpes treatment so that he can feel comfortable prescribing antivirals, or else you should see a new, more up-to-date doctor. As an alternative, you might be able to get a prescription for Valacyclovir or Acyclovir at Planned Parenthood. Your boyfriend likely has HSV-1 and just doesn’t know it. Tell him that 60%-80% of adults have HSV-1 orally, even though most of them don’t have any noticeable symptoms. To know for sure, he should get a type-specific Herpes Blood Test. For more information on treating herpes, please see our Herpes Treatments web page.


I have been diagnosed recently with HSV1, genital not oral. I have never had oral symptoms. I have asked my doctor if I can have surpressant treatment as i am concerned about the possibility of recurrence and the risk of passing the virus to my partner ( though I feel he infected me, he denies ever having herpes or cold sores – too early for a blood test just yet).
My question is, can I self medicate in the absence of supervision or prescription from my doctor?


You should immediately go to the doctor and get a culture test done from the fluid of any open sores you have right now. That’s the best way to know which virus you might have. This culture test will only work if your sores are new and haven’t yet started to heal. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause genital herpes. At the same time that you get a culture test, you should also ask your doctor give give you the Type Specific IgG Herpes Blood Test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2.

If your culture test comes out negative for both HSV-1 and HSV-2, then it’s possible that you waited too long to go to the doctor, and you might still have herpes – but there needs to be enough virus in the fluid for it to show up in a culture test. But if the culture test comes up positive, make sure the doctor tells you if it is HSV-1 or HSV-2. The doctor ought to be able to tell you which type, if the culture test is positive.

It’s likely that your ex just “thinks” that he was “clean” because he “thinks” his doctor tested him previously for HSV-1 and/or HSV-2, BUT MOST DOCTORS DO NOT INCLUDE A BLOOD TEST FOR HSV-1 or HSV-2 when they are testing their patients for other STD’s. So it’s very possible that he had herpes, and just doesn’t know it. 90% of people who have herpes don’t know it because they don’t have noticeable symptoms and their doctors NEVER TESTED THEM previously for herpes.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 have pretty much the same symptoms, and either virus can be on your genitals or mouth, although oral HSV-2 is pretty rare. You can get genital herpes from either virus type, through oral or vaginal or anal sex.

For more information, see our pages on Herpes Diagnosis.

Harwich, MA

I have had a breakout for the first time and my results aren’t back yet but looks like HSV2. The guy I was dating for 3 weeks said he was tested for std’s and was clean, that he has only been with two women in his life before me. I havent had sex before him in a month. I have a few questions. How do I know he did or didnt give it to me and if he had HSV1 or HSV2. We are no longer seeing each other and he doesnt respond to any questions as far as this goes whether he had cold sores in his mouth or any signs on his penis. I did give him oral and he gave me oral so I am affraid that since I have HSV2 could I also or should I be tested for HSV1 as well? Could he have had HSV1 and gave me HSV2? I have checked other websites and some say having HSV2 you can give oral sex and others say you cant, so which is it? And what about kissing, not a peek but making out? I do not want to give this to anyone.


Since you both already have HSV2 – you don’t really have to worry about spreading it to other places on your body. However, its always good to abstain from sex during active outbreaks. Washing yourself with soap and water might make you feel better, but it won’t prevent you from symptomatic or asymptomatic shedding. Please read our page about Herpes Treatment, which talks about Antiviral Medications and other ways to reduce shedding and reduce the risk of spreading herpes to uninfected partners.


I am a male with HSV2. I contracted it 2 months ago from a woman I still see. So I have a few questions.

1. Since HSV2 is transmitted by contact, can we introduce the virus to other areas on each other, or ourselves for that matter? Is it possible for me to touch a shedding area with my hand and inadvertantly touch some other part of my body and spread the infection?

2. When discussing reducing the risk of spreading the virus, does washing the infected area just prior help. Does soap or alchahol kill the virus thereby reducing the chance of spreading?

3. When showering, do I need to worry about washing breakout areas for fear of spreading, or do I want to wash with something special to kill active shedding?


Unless your husband has gotten a recent culture done from a “fresh” and active genital sore, or taken one of the new, very accurate herpes blood tests for HSV2, there is no way that he can KNOW for sure whether or not his genital sores are due to HSV1 or HSV2. A lot of people have HSV1 orally and HSV2 genitally. It’s also possible that he has HSV1 genitally. But he absolutely needs to be tested to know for sure what type(s) of genital herpes he has. Make sure he takes one of the new herpes HSV2 IgG blood tests listed on the ASHA Herpes Blood Test Guide on our page about Herpes Diagnosis.


Hi there! Is it possible for one person to have HSV1 both orally and genitally? My ex gets cold-sores in both places … and insists that he only has HSV1. Is this even possible? To my knowledge, he hasn’t ever been tested for HSV 2 (I was diagnosed with 2 last week).


It is possible, but highly unlikely, for someone to acquire HSV2 *orally* from giving oral sex to someone with a case of genital HSV2. There are only a few documented cases of HSV2 causing oral symptoms, and then, usually once, and then not again. Because there have been so few documented cases of “oral HSV2” – there just isn’t enough data to tell you much more. There are, however, millions of cases of genital HSV1, acquired primarily through oral sex being performed by someone with oral HSV1. Since 50-80% of the US population has HSV1, also known as “cold sores”, usually acquired during childhood vis kissing from parents, relatives or friends, and since most people don’t realize that they already carry a form of herpes that can be transmitted to other people, via kissing or oral sex, even when they have no noticeable symptoms. The perceived “stigma” of herpes would go away if more people understood just how common it was.


You didn’t answer the question about someone acquiring hsv2 by performing oral sex. Can that be transmitted to someone’s moouth?


No idea if that’s possible. HSV2 is most common @ the genitals and buttocks. Some people report outbreaks on their thighs or back. Never heard anyone say they had it on their nipples. If you are having unusual nipple discharge, it could be a symptom of something else. One way of finding out is by having a culture done from the fluid of the outbreak area as soon as it happens. Good luck.


I was tested Positive for HSV2. Is it possible to have an HSV2 outbreak on your nipples?


It’s highly unlikely, although not impossible, for you to have acquired herpes from just one sexual encounter with your ex. However, since 1 in 4 women have genital herpes and 90% of them don’t even know it, it’s possible that you already have herpes, even if you have no symptoms. If you get a herpes blood test NOW, and it’s negative, then you will know that you did not have herpes before sleeping with him. Then you can get tested again in 3-4 months to see if you still test negative, just for your own piece of mind.


Condoms can significantly reduce the risk of transmitting herpes to your partner, but do not give 100% protection. So there is a small chance that you could transmit herpes to a partner, even when you are not having a noticeable outbreak and he is using a condom. Most people with herpes shed the virus asymptomatically (with no noticeable symptoms) a small percent of the time, so just because you don’t notice any symptoms – does not necessarily mean that you are not shedding the virus. It would be wise to tell him about your diagnosis and suggest that he get a herpes blood test now, to see if he might already have herpes. In which case, he didn’t get it from you. But if he tests negative now, he might want to get tested again in about 4 months if he wants to be certain that he didn’t get it from you.


I just found out that I have herpes type 2; but it’s dormant and I have no outbreak. I had sex with someone two days before I found out, we had sex with a comdom and he did oral sex on me, I’m a female. Is it possible to transmit it to him?


I recently met up with an ex, and one thing led to another and we slept together. Afterwards, he told me his other ex had herpes, and he was afraid he had it, despite having no symptoms. After being beyond furious with him, I told him to go get tested. This was over a month ago — he contacted me last night and said he had been to the doctors and tested positive (but didn’t say which type).

We met up on March 1, and it’s now April 10. I know I have to wait two more months to get a blood test, but I was just wondering how high my risk for having the virus is. I haven’t had any symptoms in the past month, but I’m nervous it’s lying dormant and will show up out of nowhere one day


As long as your husband is taking daily suppressive therapy (i.e. Valacyclovir, Acyclovir) and staying healthy, there is a much lower risk of your getting herpes from him while you are trying to get pregnant. If you don’t want to have unprotected sex, you could try to get pregnant using his sperm in a turkey baster – it has worked for lots of people. But otherwise, unprotected sex is a great way to get pregnant and you won’t automatically get herpes just from sleeping with him, since he’s taking suppressive therapy. Nothing is risk-free. And if you get pregnant, there are other health risks you are taking. So just accept that there are various risks you take in life, and it’s up to you to decide how much risk you feel comfortable with. Good luck. DWH


My husband has HSV2 and we want to have children. I do not have the virus, as I have made sure we always use a condom and he’s on his medication. HOw do we go about having a child of our own without me contracting the virus?


There is a lot of confusion and misinformation being spread about genital herpes. Sometimes your own doctors are the ones spreading the bad information. I would not be surprised if your friend’s doctor is the source of the confusion. It’s also possible that your friend misunderstood something that the doctor told him. Valtrex is usually not prescribed unless someone has been diagnosed with HSV1 or HSV2. It is often prescribed for cold sores (around the mouth) as well as genital herpes. Some doctors are very out-of-date about herpes. These out-of-date doctors sometimes think that a positive blood test for HSV1 or HSV2 only means that you have been “exposed” to the virus, and think that it may not mean that you actually “have” the virus unless you have noticeable outbreaks. These doctors are wrong. However, if your friend does have HSV1 or HSV2, then taking daily Valtrex is a very good way to reduce the risk of spreading it to another person. If your friend does NOT have HSV1 or HSV2, then taking daily Valtrex may not be necessary.

Here’s what we recommend:
– Don’t panic. Herpes is very very common and @ 20% of everyone you know, including people you have dated, have genital herpes. 90% of them don’t even know it. You might even have it already and not know it. At least your friend is taking some precautions not to spread it.
– Ask your friend how he “knows” that he was “exposed” to herpes. What does “exposed” mean to him and/or his doctor? Was he exposed to HSV1? HSV2? Both?
– Find out the name of the “test” that was given. See if it’s one of the “good” herpes blood tests on the list that can be found at: . Remember, a lot of inaccurate herpes blood tests are still on the market. Get a copy of the test results and ask a medical professional to explain the results. Maybe use a different doctor than your friend.
– Get yourself a type-specific herpes blood test so that you know your current herpes status. Everyone should be doing this!
– Only YOU can determine if your friend is confused, misinformed by their doctor, or lying.


I have been dating a guy for almost a year. Last week I found a bottle of Valtrax hidden in his bathroom. He told me that he had been exposed to the virus in a past relationship but didn’t have any symptoms so he got tested. He said that the test was negative but the doctor put him on Valtrax (daily) as a “precaution.” Would a doctor prescribe this without an actual positive test or is he lying to me?


I have hsv2. 8 months before I became sexually active with him I was tested for everything under the sun all my results were negative. Which is how I know I got the virus from him. He is going to get tested.


You didn’t say if you have HSV1 or HSV2 or both. If you don’t know, then go back to your doctor and ask. Did you take a type-specific herpes blood test? If so, the results should tell you what you have. Also, even if you are currently in a monogamous relationship, it’s possible that you have had herpes even before you met your current boyfriend. Your boyfriend really needs to get a type-specific herpes blood test in order to know his herpes status. Both of you need to become better educated about STDs.


I recently found out I have herpes. My sexual partner says that if I got it from him that I should have on/in my mouth but I don’t. He has no visible evidence of herpes, but I know I got it from him since I’m not having sex with anyone else. How can I make him understand that just because there not visible signs that don’t mean he doesnt have herpes.


Are you asking how do you know “if” you have HSV2? Because “if” you already have HSV2, then “when” is only an issue if you are having an active outbreak at the time of delivery. If you have not already taken a blood test to confirm whether or not you have HSV2, get one asap. If you already have HSV2 and want to get pregnant (not use condoms), then use daily suppressive antiviral therapy such as Acyclovir or Valacyclovir to reduce the risk of spreading herpes to your partner. After you get pregnant, eat healthy, reduce stress, and when it is time to deliver the baby – make sure you tell your doctor if you think you are having an active outbreak. Unless they are having an active outbreak at the time of delivery, most women with herpes deliver their babies vaginally with no complications. But if you think you might be having an outbreak, then tell your doctor and they’ll probably deliver via Caesarian Section instead. out Teri Warren’s Free “Updated Herpes Handbook” – a free downloadable E-Book, and see page 24 for information about Pregnancy and Herpes.

Monica Stanton

Trying to conceive and want to know how when i have HSV2. In order to conceive i would have to have unprotected sex… please help me with this question i have been looking everywhere for an answer.


Using condoms and suppressive therapy, and not having sex during active outbreaks, are a great way to reduce the risk of transmission of herpes from one person to another. Condoms only help if they completely cover the area where someone usually has outbreaks. If someone has outbreaks on their buttocks or thighs or someplace else that condoms do not cover, then it might be good to cover those areas if possible. Not sure where you have outbreaks or if boxers would make sense for you.


Most people (like 70%) already have HSV1 orally – which can cause cold sores occasionally. But even if you are not experiencing any cold sores, it’s possible to pass HSV1 from your mouth to someone’s genitals during oral sex. A lot of people don’t know this.

If you have HSV2 genitally – but not orally – then you cannot pass HSV2 to someone else via oral sex. But since it’s highly likely that both you and your partner already have HSV1 orally, both of you should be aware that it’s possible to spread HSV1 from your mouth to the other person’s genitals via oral sex. Using condoms and dental dams during oral sex is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of spreading HSV1 via oral sex – but again – most people don’t seem to take any precautions with oral sex. That’s why HSV1 (spread from the mouth to the genitals) is the cause of up to 30% of new cases of genital herpes.


1) First of all, you should get a Herpes Blood Test so that you know for sure whether or not you might also have genital herpes. 90% of people who have genital herpes don’t even know it because they have few or no symptoms and most doctors don’t bother to test patients for herpes when they are testing them for other STD’s. So it’s unlikely that you have ever been tested for genital herpes and you should get tested to know for sure whether or not you might already have it.

2) Sleeping with someone who has genital herpes does not mean that you will automatically get it too. There are many things that couples can do to minimize the risk of transmission. 1) Avoid sex during outbreaks, 2) Use condoms, and 3) Take daily antivirals such as Acyclovir or Valacyclovir which can dramatically reduce the incidence of aysymptomatic shedding of the virus. Ask your friend if he is taking Acyclovir or Valacyclovir for suppressive therapy. And if not, he should go to his doctor and get a prescription for it. Taking all of these 3 precautions dramatically reduces the risk of spreading herpes to a partner, although nothing is 100% foolproof.

Remember about 20% of adults in the US have genital herpes, and 90% of them don’t even know it. You may have already dated and/or slept with someone who had genital herpes, but didn’t know it and didn’t have any symptoms. It’s super common, and you don’t even know for sure if you might already have it too. If your friend is truly an honest and wonderful guy, then it might be worth your time to get the facts about how to minimize the risk and make a better informed decision. Good luck.


I am a female and have genital HSV 2. I am wondering if it is possible for me to transmit it via oral sex to my boyfriend? I know that it is definitely a risk if I had cold sores on my mouth, but that is not the case. I cannot seem to find any answers on this subject. Is it safe for someone with genital herpes to give oral sex to someone without transmitting it?


Recently I have contracted hsv-2. Presently, I am not sexually active, but I am bound to have intercourse eventually.Would daily suppressive therapy,condom use,AND my sex partner keeping on his boxers during intercourse all combined,reduce the risk of hsv transmission, than just suppressive therapy and condom use alone?


I am 22, I recently met the man of my dreams. He is 25. And of course, something is wrong.. he recently told me he has genital herpes. he told me one night and we stayed up all night talking. he asked if i wanted him to leave and i said no. we have not had sex and i dont really plan to despite wanting to.. Do I break things off? We have already told eachother we love one another.. i love him so much. i am so scared and sad. how do I stop these feelings when its not even his fault? It could have happened to me, to a lot of people.. its just bad luck. and it is the only thing holding me back.. If I could 100 percent protect myself I would, but the risk is a lot to think about and emotions are running high. i love him so much. this is breaking my heart and spirit. i just want to be with him


Zovirax is a brand name for Acyclovir before Acyclovir became a generic drug. So Zovirax and Acyclovir are exactly the same thing – just a different name on the bottle. The recommended suppressive therapy dosage is 400 mg x 2 per day, so 800 mg total per day. Valacyclovir (same thing as Valtrex) has the same benefit as Acyclovir, but generally 1 tablet per day instead of 2 (not sure of the amount of mg per tablet), and it costs a lot more. Some health insurance plans will cover Acyclovir, but not Valacyclovir. Google Valtrex dosage suppressive therapy for more info.


I can’t seem to find an answer to this question so I hope you can help,

I’m going on daily suppressive therapy because I want to reduce the risk of transmission to an uninfected partner, My dr. prescribed me Zovirax 800 mg? I’ve heard that Valtrex & Acyclovir reduce asymptomatic shedding etc but Zovirax doesn’t, isn’t zovirax just acyclovir? This was an odd new dr. so if Zovirax does not work like valtrex I’ll make an appt. to see my regular dr. & get another prescription.

I wonder what is the advantage of prescribing zovirax over the other two?

Thank you! I’m very confused…


Depending on which kind of herpes blood test you took, if it was a type-specific Herpes IgG blood test and it came out positive just 3 days after you first had unprotected sex with your new partner – then it sounds like this might not be a newly acquired infection. You might have had the HSV2 virus foa a long time without having any symptoms. That’s why most people who have herpes – don’t even know it! Any of your past boyfriends may have had HSV2 and had no symptoms and didn’t know that they had any sort of STD. You cannot “assume” that that just because someone has no symptoms doesn’t mean that they don’t have an STD.


I’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner. I had been abstinent for a year prior to this. 3 days later had the flu symptoms and felt very sore. Went to the GYN since the soreness didn’t stop. From visual observation, she was confident that I had contracted HSV2. I had blood work done and the results came back positive for HSV2. This all happened within a week and a half from the time of intercourse. (I’ve been in 2 long-term relationships prior to this. Neither of the partners ever experienced any symptoms of HSV2 nor did they ever speak of it. So, i’m assuming that they are both HSV2 negative).

I guess I’m trying to figure out if I could have had it for 12 years and never knew or if I definitely contracted it from the new partner.


Are you saying that you both carry HSV2? Or does one of you have HSV2 and the other has HSV1? Or what? If you both have HSV1 orally, it can still possibly be transmitted to the genitals via oral sex. Using condoms and dental dams properly and taking suppressive therapy (usually daily Acyclovir or Valcyclovir) is the best way to prevent transmission. Make sure that you both get one of the “good” type-specific Herpes IgG blood tests and find out exactly what you have or do not have. Then you can decide what preventative strategies is best for you as a couple. Read our webpage on Reducing Your Risk of getting or spreading herpes:


How should you go about using protection/trying to reduce transmission when you and your partner both carry the virus?


There is no way of anyone knowing for sure when someone is or is not potentially shedding the herpes virus asymptomatically -unless they are participating in some sort of clinical study where their genital area is swabbed daily and tested for traces of the virus. However, most people shed the virus less and less over time, and if someone is taking daily Valtrex or Acyclovir as suppressive therapy, then the occurrence of asymptomatic shedding is dramatically reduced. If your partner is taking Valtrex or Acyclovir daily as suppressive therapy, and if you used a condom properly, then you have a very low risk of getting herpes.

Since @ 20%-25% of adult women in the US have HSV2, but most of them don’t even know it, you are probably more at risk for getting herpes from someone who doesn’t know that they have it, and is taking no precautions to protect you, than from someone who knows they have herpes and is taking the recommended precautions.

Because it is quite likely that 1 in 4 of your previous partners had HSV2, whether or not they knew it, it makes sense for you and everyone else to ask your doctor to give you a type-specific herpes blood test so that you are aware of your herpes status. Most doctors do NOT test their patients for herpes when they are testing you for other STD’s – unless you SPECIFICALLY REQUEST a herpes blood test. Get tested now! If you test positive right now, then you got herpes from a previous partner because not enough time has passed after your most recent sexual encounter for the virus to show up in your blood stream – unless you were previously infected. If you test negative now, then get tested again in about 4 months if you want to be sure that you didn’t happen to get herpes from this new partner. It takes 12-16 weeks after you get the virus for enough antibody markers to show up in your bloodstream for the blood test to work.

Good luck!


I been dating a girl who has finally told me she has Herpes… We had sex once but I wore a condom. she said she was not shedding and wasnt breaking out when we did it. should I be safe??


Both HSV1 and HSV2 can cause “genital herpes”. Up to 80% of Americans have HSV1, which is usually associated with “cold sores” around the mouth, but can also be transmitted to the genitals via oral sex. Up to 30% of new cases of genital herpes are due to HSV1 – and most of the time, it’s been transmitted via oral sex. Since most people (up to 80% of Americans) have HSV1 – whether or not they ever have noticeable cold sores – and since most people do not use any sort of “protection” during oral sex, it’s actually becoming more and more common for people to get herpes on their genitals from oral sex. For more info, go to:


No. It’s possible that someone might be able to asymptomatically shed the virus from a place that they don’t know about because they cannot see it. And yes, it’s also possible that they can shed the virus from the same spot where they do occasionally have visible outbreaks. It’s the invisible outbreaks that might be happening in a place you don’t know about – that’s something you cannot help.

Jay Quick

Can asymptomatic herpes only be spread through contact with the area where the lesions erupt?


Yes, 70% of new cases of genital herpes are the result of having sex with someone who had NO VISIBLE SYMPTOMS of genital herpes, but was shedding the virus “asymptomatically” (without noticeable symptoms).