[Question #1359] Oral and Genital HSV-1 Question

48 months ago
I recently had an intimate experience with a common friend who was about 50 years old.  After kissing her, she mentioned that she used to get cold sores when she was way younger, maybe one or two decades ago. But she no longer gets any cold sores.  During this time, she also performed oral sex on me while I was wearing my boxer shorts for about 20-30 seconds. It has been about two days since this happened. And I found that I have one or two pimples on the middle side of my cheek on the top of my beard.  

I am also freaking out that because she performed oral sex while I was wearing my shorts, there is a possibility that she could have transmitted HSV-1 to my genitals through the underwear.  There was no direct skin to skin contact, but I did feel that the area where she performed oral sex on my boxer shorts was wet.

Can you please help educate me on the risk of getting HSV-1 both oral and in the genitals?    How common is for people in their 50s to transmit HSV-1 if they have not had it for a long time? I am very stressed out.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
48 months ago
The reality is that most people age 50 already have HSV 1 and you may also even if you have never in your life had a cold sore. 
Assuming for a moment that you are not infected, if you were wearing your boxer shorts and she gave you oral sex  over the top of the shorts (that is, fabric in her mouth) then you are not at risk for acquiring herpes at all.  It is possible to acquire HSV 1 through kissing when someone does not have a cold sore, but that doesn't happen very often at all.  The majority of people (56$) in the US between 14 and 49 are infected with HSV 1 so I'm sure you've kissed others who have this, even if they don't know or have not disclosed this information to you. 

Terri
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48 months ago
Thanks for the quick response Terri. You are correct. The oral sex was performed when I had my shorts on. She had the fabric in her mouth and no direct contact on my genitals. Although I am concerned the cloth spot was moist and maybe it could have touched my genitals.  Does that present any risk?

I've never had cold sores before. For someone who does not get cold sores often given that their exposure happened much early in their life,  how often do they shed when they don't have visible sores?  I am mostly concerned that this information was disclosed to me after I kissed her. Just checking to see if the virus gets suppressed with time and how often someone could involuntarily pass it through kissing if they don't get cold sores anymore.

Appreciate your patience in helping me educate as I am going through this experience.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
48 months ago
No, the oral sex through fabric does not present a risk.
About 70% of those infected with HSV 1 do not report any oral or genital lesions in their past. 
We don't have statistics on particular situations with HSV 1 - that is, infected a long time with no sores, infected a long with frequent sores, infected a short time, etc.  Over all, people with HSV 1 orally shed 9-18% of days.  People generally shed less over time, correct.  If you have no symptoms within 2-10 days it is unlikely that you acquired new HSV 1 at this encounter. 

Terri
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