[Question #4338] HSV1 - Methods of Transmission

28 months ago
I (female) have HSV1, which began as a genital outbreak, but after the initial outbreak I've only had outbreaks that present as occasional cold sores on my mouth. I know that during these outbreaks, I can transmit herpes via the mouth so I realize the transmission risk for anything that touches my mouth. One question I've never been able to figure out a clear answer for though is whether I can transmit it through vaginal sex during an outbreak when I only have a cold sore on my mouth.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
28 months ago
It isn't really true that you can transmit via anything that touches your mouth -is your mouth touches a penis or someone else's lips you could transmit but not through things like utensils or glasses. 
Since you do have HSV 1 genitally, you could transmit this via vaginal intercourse but transmission of HSV 1 through intercourse is rare - neither I nor Dr. Handsfield nor Dr. Hook have personally seen this but it has been documented in the literature.  And it isn't necessarily when you have a cold sore though research has shown that shedding from both locations is common, at the same time.   Daily antiviral medicine will reduce shedding and the risk of transmission to someone else.
Please let me know what other questions you might have about this.

Terri
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