[Question #1901] Herpes and barrier protection

74 months ago

About 11 years ago, I believe my wife got herpes from me in her genital area from my performing oral sex on her.   I was unaware I had herpes until that time, but shortly afterward, we both had painful little blisters  that burst into open sores.  Neither of us have been tested, as we just went to see our doctors, and they both told us, “Yup, that looks like herpes”.  We were both placed on Valacyclovir daily as a preventative measure.  I live with the daily guilt of having delivered this pain and difficulty to the woman I love, but her rejections make me feel dirty, diseased and horrible.

Her outbreaks (5-6 over in the 11 years) have been mainly external at the posterior end of her vagina.  I understand they are very painful.  She has not let me perform oral sex on her since her first outbreak, 11 years ago and its beginning to become a problem in our relationship.  She is so uncomfortable if I even move below her bellybutton, or kiss her thighs, but she has no reservations about kissing me on the mouth

Will my performing oral sex on her without any protection increase the number of outbreaks for either of us?  Will the outbreaks be more painful?  (obviously not performing oral sex during an outbreak for either of us)

She has no issue with my using my saliva on my fingers to manually stimulate her, including insertion.  Is there a possibility there with increasing outbreaks?  It doesn’t seem so, as we engage in this activity multiple times per week.

I don’t see using a dental dam as an option.  Could a product like NewSkin or Liquid Bandage on my lips act as a sufficient barrier to creating more outbreaks if that is the case from my previous question?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
74 months ago
It would be useful to know really what each of you has - it would be unusual though not impossible for you to have oral infection, give it to her and then have sores yourself genitally but not impossible.  A type specific IgG antibody test would tell you if you have HSV 1, HSV 2 or both or neither (that's unlikely). 
So if she has HSV 1 and so do you, then there should be absolutely no fear for her to receive oral sex from you - she already has what she has and obviously it is recurring on it's own without new exposure from you, so there is just no downside to you giving her oral sex at this point.  I think she's likely confused about the risks here, but it sounds like her confusion is causing problems for you.  You giving her oral sex will not increase the number of outbreaks that she is having.  The outbreaks will not be more painful, no more painful than what she has been having for recurrences - no different!

There is no possibility that you manually stimulating her would cause more outbreaks, no. 
There is absolutely no need to either any product to act as a barrier between you and her. 

I hope that knowing the facts will help her to relax, but there are no promises here.  It sounds like she might have a little trauma from the first infection - might have to get past that to make this work.  Please let me know what other questions you might have.

74 months ago

Thank you, Terri.  My wife and I read your reply together and we both appreciate your knowledge.

Correction: my wife was tested on her first outbreak, and it was HSV-1.

Clarification: I do not have any sores on my genitals.  For me its my lips, and for her its her genitals.

Can you please confirm or correct these statements?

1- If I am not having an outbreak, its OK for me to perform oral on her?

2- If I am unsure if I am "shedding" cells, its OK for me to perform oral sex on her?

3- If I am currently having an outbreak, could my performing oral sex on her cause her an outbreak?

The site of her irritation has changed.  The first time is was on the posterior end of her vagina. What she now considers an outbreak is more of a thin slit in the skin in the folds of her labia majora.  The feeling is the same in the new location.  Is this typical or cause for concern?  Could this be something different?

Her vaginal area is much more sensitive ever since.  She says she'd just enjoy oral sex less. Is this typical?  Any irritation causes her the feeling of a new outbreak.

Do you have any suggestions to help her overcome her mental block regarding her receiving oral sex?

Curious (and for others reading), do you think the Liquid Bandage or New Skin medications could work between an HSV-1 infected person and one who is not.

Thank you so much!

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
74 months ago
1.  Yes, it is OK
2.  Yes, it is OK
3  No, I don't believe that it would
4.  It's difficult to know if what she is experiencing is herpes related or not. Normally, when there is no outbreak of herpes, there is no irritation - she might want to check with her doc to see if something else is going on.  Could she be having irritation from menopause?  How old is she? 
It sounds to me like she has some kind of post traumatic stress reaction to getting HSV from receiving oral sex and it's kind of sticking with her.  If she has no outbreak, she should not have abnormal sensation from herpes on an ongoing basis- I'm wondering if her reaction might be more psychological.  I don't think you should push her on this but if she used to like oral sex, perhaps, with patience and continual trying from time to time she can get past this rough spot.
Don't know about the New Skin idea.