Can Sex Cause Herpes Reoccurrence?

Question

Asked by eddie

Can Sex Cause Herpes Reoccurrence?

I'm herpes positive and I read that sex can cause an herpes outbreak or reoccurence. What is it about the act of sex that causes this?

Answer

To be honest, I don't really know the answer to your question.  For some people, having sex can cause an outbreak, for others it doesn't.  I think a lot of it has to do with the individual and his/her immune system.

Generally I think that having sex draws attention to the genital area and may aggravate and wake up the herpes virus that was once dormant.  Some say it's caused by the friction experienced during sex.  However, I've had outbreaks after simply masturbating.  I can feel tingling at the base of my spine just after having an orgasm.  The herpes virus lives in the nervous system, so maybe it has to do with the blood rushing to the nerve endings in the penis and clitoris during sexual stimulation, heightening the sensitivity of the genital area to the herpes virus.

Some believe the herpes virus is always present on the surface of the skin, but you only experience an outbreak when your immune system takes notice of the virus and attacks it.  So when you have sex you can sometimes tear the skin.  The immune system reacts to the tear, notices the herpes cells, and begins to fight off the herpes virus while healing the tear.

I don't think anyone really knows why exactly sex causes outbreaks in some.  But to try and prevent it you can use lubricant, and I'm sure condoms wouldn't hurt.  If you've only read about it, and haven't experienced it, you shouldn't worry too much.  Next time you see your doctor, ask him/her what his/her thoughts are about it!

Here are some links you might find useful:

Telling Your Partner, Gender and Acceptance

Herpes, Scene 1: Knowing the Risk and Consenting to It

10 Tips to Reduce Herpes Outbreaks

Answered by Penelope James