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What are the chances of getting genital herpes from oral sex?

So people say that you can get genital herpes from having oral sex from someone who has cold sores.

What are the chances of getting genital herpes this way? Even if there is no sign of an outbreak?

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One Comment

  1. mayflower25 says:

    Yes, you can get genital herpes from having oral sex from someone who has the cold sore virus.

    The chances of getting genital herpes this way depend on 2 things:

    1. If you already have the cold sore virus on your mouth yourself

    2. If the person who is giving you oral sex has an active sore or not.

    Eight out of ten people are infected with the oral herpes virus hsv-1 by adulthood. The vast majority of these people are unaware that they are infected, because only a few people actually suffer outbreaks of the virus – cold sores ot you and me.

    If you are one of the eight out of ten who is already infected with hsv-1 orally, and you have had the virus for a while, more than a few months, your chances of catching hsv-1 genitally through receiving oral sex from someone else who gets cold sores is virtually nil.

    This is because when you have had the virus a while you produce antibodies which protect you from another infection with the same virus.

    It takes a few months for you to acquire this protection though – that is why they recommend leaving it 3-6 months after exposure to the virus before you get tested to see if you have caught it. They test for the antibodies in your blood, which don’t show up until this point. Probably still a good idea to avoid oral sex when your partner has a cold sore, just to be on the safe side. However, the Herpes Viruses Association of the UK gives the following advice:

    "If you and your partner have the same virus you will not reinfect each other – even on a different part of the body. So, if you have caught it genitally from your partner’s facial cold sores, he or she will not catch the virus back on the genitals."

    If you do not already have oral herpes, you are at risk of catching it, and whether or not you catch it is a lottery whenever you have oral sex. You are more likely to catch it if you are a woman – where I live, up to 75% of new genital herpes infections in young women are acquired this way.

    Oral hsv-1 – the virus that causes cold sores – is the most infectious form of herpes. It is infectious about 18% of the time in total – about 10% of the time when you have no symptoms. Since you cannot tell when someone is infectious, whether or not you catch it is partly your partner being aware of their own body and realising when they are starting with a cold sore or the virus is active, and partly luck.

    For example, neither I nor my sister caught the oral herpes virus as children like most (80% of) people do. So we both caught genital herpes through oral sex with a partner with cold sores by the time we hit our mid twenties.

    I caught genital herpes seven years into my relationship with my boyfriend. We were aware of the possibility of him spreading it to me, so he didn’t give me oral sex very often and he was scrupulously careful to avoid giving it me when he had any symptom he thought might indicate the virus was active – a tingle on his lip etc. He did not have a cold sore at the time he transmitted it to me, and hadn’t for months.

    My sister caught genital herpes through oral sex four months into a new relationship. Again, her partner did not have a cold sore at the time – 70% of herpes infections are passed when symptoms are not present. My friend at college caught genital herpes from a guy she took home for a one night stand in freshers’ week. They didn’t have intercourse, he only gave her oral sex and he didn’t have a cold sore.

    Hope this info is useful.