Can You Have Genital And Oral Herpes?


Asked by disbivz

Can You Have Genital And Oral Herpes?

My mother, sister and spouse have oral herpes and I have never shown symptoms although I realize that I probably also have the virus. I am wondering if you have oral herpes can you also have genital herpes? Also if I don't show symptoms of oral herpes even though I have been exposed my entire life does that mean that I can't get genital herpes? I believe that if someone has oral herpes that they can give someone else genital herpes through sexual contact. Thank you for helping me get my facts straight!



Thanks for your interesting question. It does not necessarily follow that the fact your mother and sister have oral herpes means you have it too. It is possible you have the virus but the only way to establish this is to have the relevant blood test.

As for oral and genital herpes, in many ways we're talking about pretty much the same thing located in different areas of the body. HSV-1 is usually thought of as oral herpes and HSV-2 as genital. In fact they are two sides of the same coin and it is possible, for example, to have HSV-I in the genital region.

Once you have the HSV virus it does seem to provide some protection from getting its cousin. So if you have HSV-1 you have some protection within your immune system from contracting HSV-2. You don't, however, have complete protection. You might find this article on herpes transmission useful as it covers HSV-1 and 2 in more detail.

Answered by Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., CPsychol., AFBPsS