December 5, 2014 at 6:25 pm #2159
Thank you for your time. I have been dating a wonderful man with hsv 2 and I have been tested and do not have hvs 2. As such, I just had a few questions as we are a discordant couple. He has had hsv 2 for 4 years now, always gets his outbreaks in the same area (on the tip of the penis) and gets an breakout once a year since the primary outbreak. We have not had intercourse yet until we know where the relationship is going.
1) as the outbreak is always in the same area and can be covered with a condom, if we did engage in intercourse and used a condom, would I be completely protected against contracting hsv 2?
2) in terms of viral shedding, would he be shedding only around the area where breakouts occur, or does the entire genital area shed?
3) if i contracted hsv 2 orally, would I then be protected against getting it genitally?
4) we do engage in some sexual activity. If i do masturbate him, we use a condom. Before he touches me, he washes his hands. What are the odds of transmission in this case if no visible sores are present? (Ie if the virus was shedding, and he touched himself and then touched me, could the virus be transmitted to me this way?)
December 5, 2014 at 11:41 pm #2161
1. I would say that you are largely protected against HSV 2. Men shed virus mostly from the shaft of the penis. However, they can shed from other locations like the rectum so though you would be largely safe, I couldn’t say you would be 100% safe.
2. See question 1 for that answer
3. Yes, oral infection with HSV 2 would basically be a vaccination against getting it genitally. Once you have one type of HSV in one location, you are extremely unlikely to get it in a new location.
4. You don’t need to use a condom with masturbation, that’s not necessary if you have intact skin on your hands. The odds of transmission via masturbation are very close to zero. I wouldn’t worry about that particular risk. It takes some quantity of virus to infect another person and in the scenario you are describing, the risk is again, very very low.
If you do decide to have intercourse, it would be best if he was taking antiviral therapy daily, like valacylcovir or acyclovir as it reduces transmission by almost half over no medicine at all. Does he currently take medication?
You have two more questions to ask, please feel free.
December 6, 2014 at 12:19 am #2162
Thank you for the quick response.
No, he does not take currently take daily antiviral therapy, but it would be something that we would like to look into if we decide to go further. All in all, if he did take daily antiviral medication and condoms were used, it seems like the risk of transmission would be quite low? Also, is the virus spread only through viral shedding and liquid from the blisters or can it also be transmitted via bodily fluids like blood and sperm?
Finally, I really care for this person and do not want to end things with them solely based on an hsv 2 diagnosis. This virus does not define him and in no way takes away from all of the amazing qualities that he has. However, I do find myself sometimes struggling to fully commit to the relationship from fear of contracting the virus myself. Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for me in that regard?
thank you kindly.
December 6, 2014 at 12:28 am #2163
I do have words of wisdom!
I’ve been where you are. If you are fortunate enough to find a great guy, herpes or not, and you feel that the relationship has real potential, I say go for it. Let’s face it – we all bring some negatives to relationships. His is herpes, I’m sure you have some too. In the big picture, things like sex and money and inlaws and children and work problems are far bigger problems than herpes possibly could be. Herpes is a minor medical problem though a bigger social and psychological one. Some people even feel that having herpes help them sort out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to partners who will stick by you through tough times. That is not to say you should rush into this. Taking your time and getting to know each other is important for many reasons.
When condoms and daily antiviral therapy are both used, the risk of transmission from men to women, having sex an average of twice per week, is about 2-3% per year. That is, if there were 100 couples in the same situation, 2-3 women would become infected in a year. viral shedding does not occur through semen and blood, normally, but rather skin to skin.
When it comes right down to it, the question is would you rather be with him and risk getting herpes or not be with him. It may be way to early to know the answer for you and that’s OK. Remember that herpes is only one of his qualities so try to balance the whole picture. All in all in my relationships over the years, I’ve had sex for a total of 18 years with men who have had herpes and never acquired herpes. The men involved took daily suppressive therapy and no condoms were used (well, maybe the first week or so). And I know a lot about herpes and was very willing to take the risk.
You’ve got one more question to ask.
December 6, 2014 at 1:51 am #2165
wonderful advice. I think that you really hit the nail on the head by saying that the true question is would I rather be with him and risk getting herpes or not be with him. Good guys are hard to come by and so I will definitely continue to explore where this relationship goes. Also, thank you for sharing your personal experience.
Just one clarification (perhaps I worded in wrong in my previous post) can herpes be transmitted via bodily fluids like blood and semen?
Finally, what is my risk of contracting hsv 2 orally from engaging oral sex without use of a condom?
Thanks again, this forum is an excellent way to get quick and reliable answers. The work that you do is great!
December 6, 2014 at 7:18 am #2169
Neither blood nor serum are good carriers of HSV, no.
If you give your partner oral sex without a condom, it is possible though not likely that you could contract this orally. If you do, it vaccinates you against getting it genitally.
I’m glad this board was helpful for you. If you feel like it, we could use some good reviews on Yelp. Just a thought.
Have a great holiday!
December 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm #2172
Hello Terri (i have purchased follow-up questions)
Based on the information above,
1) Hypothetically speaking then, if I purposely came into oral contact with an active hsv 2 infection I could contract oral hsv 2 and thereby vaccinate myself against getting genital hsv 2? This would then eliminate the chance of transmission to my child during vaginal delivery as there would be no concern with a genital outbreak and would also eliminate the chance of me giving hsv 2 to a future partner during genital sex?
2) is oral hsv 2 more easily transmitted to the genitals than oral hsv 1 as oral hsv 2 prefers the genital area?
December 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm #2173
Yes, hypothetically speaking that is correct. I have heard Dr. Anna Wald, considered the nation’s expert in genital herpes, make this statement on more than on occasion at professional meetings. And I have had female partners of men with HSV 2 genitally tell me that they did this exact thing to avoid getting it genitally since oral HSV 2 is such a very limited problem and if it recurs, looks just like a cold sore. Their purpose was to avoid getting hSV 2 genitally and having to deal with the possibility of infecting a baby at birth. There are no clinical trials that have looked at this issue.
HSV 1 is more easily transmitted to the genitals by giving oral sex than HSV 2, that is correct.
December 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm #2174
And were those female partners successful in acquiring oral hsv 2? What is you professional opinion on doing this?
December 6, 2014 at 4:16 pm #2175
I don’t know, I never heard the follow up.
My opinion is that it would work well. And really, when Anna Wald says she thinks it is true, I believe that it is true. Also, in 32 years of practice, I have seen perhaps one person who reported a history of cold sores that acquired HSV 1 genitally, and I’m not even positive about that person having cold sores to begin with.
December 17, 2014 at 6:46 am #2316
I believe that I still had one follow-up question left with my renewed membership? (If not, please let me know and I will renew again) With regards to mutual masturbation where both partners touch eachother and when the infected partner does not have any active lesions, the risk of transmission is qualified as extremely low from what I gather. Is this because in theory there could be transmission of the virus or have you seen instances throughout your career where a person actually comtracted hsv2 because of mutual masturbation where no direct genital contact took place?
December 17, 2014 at 6:57 am #2317
Just to clarify: My inquiry relates to the risk of transmission of hsv 2 to the genitals of a non-infected person when the infected male touches himself and then touches the non-infected partner’s genitals (rather than the risk of transmission to the non-infected person’s hands after touching the infected partner’s genitals). Hope that makes sense even if it sounds a little confusing!
December 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm #2326
I understand the question. I think the risk of transmission in that way is very low indeed.
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