Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
I have HSV-1 and HSV-2...my partner has herpes, too. How can I safely give her oral sex?
I’m a man with HSV-1 and HSV-2, and I am beginning relationships with women who also have HSV. Are there any devices for giving oral sex to women? I know condoms protect in the reverse scenario.
Lisa Oldson, MD on August 26, 2011
Thanks for your question, and for your interest in how to have safer sex if you have both types of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2).
First, two people with the same herpes infections don’t need to worry about herpes transmission. That is, you can’t be re-infected with a virus that you already have. For example, if both you and your partner have HSV-1 and HSV-2, then neither of you are at any risk for the virus...because you already have the virus.
However, since you mentioned having multiple partners...I would encourage you to always use condoms (and dental dams for oral sex) to reduce your risk of exposure to other STDs. I would also advise you to get tested for common STDs every six months or so, to stay on top of your STD status...remember, many STDs don’t show any signs or symptoms. Testing is the only way to know your status for sure.
What if your partner only has one type of herpes? In that case, too, I would recommend that you use a condoms or a dental dam during oral, vaginal or anal sex. For example, if one of your partners has HSV-1, you’ll need to be careful not to pass your HSV-2 to her genitals.
Besides practicing safer sex, how else can you reduce the risk of infecting a partner with a herpes strain that they don’t already have? One important precaution is to simply not have sex during an outbreak, when sores are visible. And even when your symptoms are “silent,” use protection. Daily antiviral therapy can further reduce the risk of transmission.
If you’d like to learn more about herpes risks, transmission and treatment, as well as STD testing, visit our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.
Thanks again for sharing your concern with us...and hopefully this information has been useful to you.
Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.