Genital Herpes from Oral Sex?
Can I get genital herpes by having oral sex with a partner who is not showing symptoms?
Because we know that people with genital herpes often shed the virus even when they don’t have any disease activity, technically, they can spread the virus by allowing a non-infected partner to perform oral sex on him or her. However, that may not be the case. Although HSV1 (the virus that usually causes cold sores) can cause genital lesions if the virus take up latency there, it is almost unheard of to see HSV2 (the virus that causes genital herpes) cause cold sores No one knows why.
However, given the theoretical risk of transmission, I don’t recommend any form of unprotected sex between an infected individual and a non-infected partner.
Important: We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.
Charlotte Grayson, M.D., is an internist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a 1995 graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency in 1998 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Previously, Dr. Grayson was Senior Medical Editor for a leading healthcare content company. She frequently speaks to the media about health, appearing on Fox News and CNN and contributing to TIME, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and WebMD magazines.