Condoms and Herpes

Health Writer

Numerous questions come up regarding herpes and safe sex, and specifically use of condoms.

Here's a quick rundown on the dos and don'ts:

  • Many people with herpes are asymptomatic and don't even know that they have it, so your rule should be to always use a condom with a new or current partner. Latex condoms are the best. Add a spermicidal to increase the effectiveness and protection.
  • If you have herpes and experience genital pain, assume an outbreak is imminent and refrain from having sex (or if this applies to your partner, do not have sex with them).
  • Do not have oral or traditional sex in the presence of lesions -- a condom is not sufficient protection. Be aware that if the active virus is present outside the area covered by the condom, herpes can be transmitted.
  • If you are allergic to latex condoms, using lambskin condoms is not equivalent protection. Using a spermicidal can increase the effectiveness, but it is not as effective as the latex condom. Talk to your doctor or a health professional if faced with this situation.
  • Do not kiss anyone with frank lesions on the face.
  • If you decide to have oral sex, a dental dam should be used to protect against the transmission of herpes.
  • Herpes can be transmitted by sweat, saliva, and vaginal fluids.
  • If you have herpes and touch the lesions, you can technically infect another person with your hands if you touch mucosal tissue.
  • Always wash hands with very warm water and soap.
  • Never use saliva to moisten hard contact lenses if you have oral herpes. Wash your hands with soapy hot water before handling contact lenses.
  • Remember that herpes can be transmitted even if no lesions are present.
  • Finally it's important to note that if you have herpes, you are at increased risk of HIV/AIDS if you are exposed.

See more helpful articles:

Types of Emergency Contraception

What You Can Expect After Taking the Morning After Pill

Emergency Contraception: How Much Do You Know About the Morning After Pill?

The Morning After Pill

Understanding the Risks of an IUD