Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Can I pass oral herpes to other parts of my own body?
Is it possible to pass oral herpes to your penis if saliva was used as a lubricant during masturbation?
Terri Warren, MS, RN, ANP on September 14, 2011
Thanks for sharing your question with us.
First, if you have oral herpes, rest assured that it’s very unlikely you could transmit the virus to your penis...even if you use your own saliva as lubricant for masturbation. Why? Because once you have herpes in one location on your body (like your mouth), your immune system creates disease-fighting antibodies that help keep other parts of your body from being infected.
That said, you’re still at risk for genital herpes with someone else. As you probably know, there are two kinds of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Almost all oral herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. And a lot of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-2...but not all of them.
So, if you have HSV-1 and you’re with a partner who doesn’t already have an HSV-1 infection somewhere in their body, they’re at risk for getting genital herpes from your HSV-1 infection if you give them unprotected oral sex. Additionally, if you have vaginal or anal sex with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection, you’d still be at risk for catching genital herpes caused by HSV-2.
How can you help protect yourself and a partner from further infection? One good starting point is to use condoms when you have vaginal or anal intercourse. And if you give someone oral sex, also be sure to use a barrier (dental dams for women, or a condom for men). Also, daily antiviral therapy can greatly reduce the frequency and duration of herpes outbreaks, as well as reduce the risk of spreading herpes to others.
Keep in mind, however, that If you and your partner get tested for herpes, and you both have the same type, then you don’t need to worry about spreading it further.
For more detailed information about herpes risks and prevention, you might want to read through our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.
Warren is a Nurse Practitioner and owner of Westover Heights Clinic in Oregon. She is a renown expert and author in the field of genital herpes research, diagnosis and treatment. Warren was educated at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the University of Portland.