[Question #27] transmission of genital herpes

40 months ago
i have been diagnosed with genital herpes.  my question is can genital herpes be transmitted by kissing?  I have never been an outbreak of any sores or any fever blisters on my mouth, only on the genitals.  My last outbreak was over 1 year ago and they have been infrequent before that time.   I understand the precautions to be taken for transmission through sexual intercourse, and the 3 step method for prevention of infection to another person.  I am just trying to clarify if i should be worried about kissing an uninfected person. 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
40 months ago
If your infection is only genital then no, kissing not at all a risk for transmission.  The virus does not leave the genital area, travel up your body and out your mouth.  It just stays in the group of nerves at the base of the spine and can come out anywhere in the area covered by a pair of boxer shorts, so basically waist to mid thigh but not the face.  Hope that helps!  You've got two more questions to ask, if you need any clarification.

Best,
Terri
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40 months ago
thank you for your response...that was exactly what i thought but was not sure.

i just would like to clarify one more item....if i had have had oral sex with my infected partner, can i get oral herpes from her if she has genital herpes?  I have had no symptoms and have never had any type of outbreaks/sores/lesions in my mouth or lips.    Is there a test that i should take that would tell me if i have oral herpes?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
40 months ago
I'm a little confused here and I'm hoping you can clarify.  You have been diagnosed with genital herpes.  Was that HSV 1 or HSV 2?  Are you asking if you give our partner oral sex or if they give it to you?  If you have well established genital herpes, you will not get oral herpes subsequently, if you are the give of oral sex to your partner.  So how were you diagnosed with genital herpes again?

Terri
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40 months ago
thank you....i think you answered it when you said "If you have well established genital herpes, you will not get oral herpes subsequently, if you are the giver of oral sex to your partner. "

but just to clarify:
my former partner had well established genital herpes.  
she ended up giving me genital herpes through sexual intercourse.  
we are no longer together and i have started to see someone new that does not have Herpes.  
I am not sure if my herpes is HSV 1 or HSV 2 - but i only have evidence of it in my genitals.

I have performed oral sex on my former partner that has genital herpes.

the new person that i am seeing is concerned that since i performed oral sex on my infected partner that i might also have contracted herpes in my mouth as well (and not be aware of it, since i have never had any symptoms in my mouth, only my genitals)

 is this possible - if i have genital herpes that i could also have herpes in my mouth ?  (which i think you answered already) do i need to get my type clarified by testing it? 

i want to ensure that my new partner is not at risk for me transmitting anything to her through kissing.

thank you! 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
40 months ago
OK, that whole explanation certainly helps.  If you were my patient, I would definitely want to know if you had HSV 1 or HSV 2.  They behave very differently in the genital area and if you have HSV 1, is it also possible that you new partners has this as well, or if she hasn't actually been tested with the IgG test, we don't really know if she has HSV 2 or not, do we?  Eighty percent of those infected with HSV 2 don't know they have it.  Wouldn't it be ironic if she has HSV 2, doesn't know it, and you have HSV 1 genitally?  Then you would still be susceptible to her HSV 2 infection.  You don't mention how you were diagnosed with genital herpes exactly - was it swab test or just a visual exam?  I'm guessing it was a swab test that was untyped but it would be good to know. 

As for your question about the oral sex:  If you only have symptoms genitally, I think you need to assume that your infection is only genital.  Could you have acquired it orally as well?  Yes, it's conceptually possible but there is just no way to know that with 100% certainty.  You need a way to live with this, and if you were my patient I would say that if you have no lesions orally, then you should assume that you have it only genitally. 

In summary, I would suggest that you both get type specific IgG antibody tests to know what you exactly both have.  And also assume that you have it genitally, period. 
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Best,
Terri
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