[Question #5346] Genital Herpes Communication Through Saliva from Oral Sex

23 months ago
I have a female friend who has genital herpes. She got it from her husband who she says is a carrier of genital herpes. I believe it is very possible she got it from giving him oral sex. If that is true, can her saliva or even bleeding gums, etc. cause me to contract the genital herpes virus if perhaps I had any broken skin on my penis? Or is it impossible to spread the virus just from her giving me oral sex?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
23 months ago
I'm confused.  She has genital herpes.  If she has genital herpes, then her symptoms would be genital.  She could have acquired this through intercourse or him giving oral sex to her.  I don't know what you mean by her giving him oral sex - it would be the reverse.  If her infection is genital, there is no risk from her giving you oral sex.

Terri
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23 months ago
Yes, you are confused. Your answer makes no sense. If she can get genital herpes from getting oral sex, why isn't the reverse true? If she was giving oral sex to him and he was shedding, couldn't she contract the virus? So if the method of transmission is genital herpes passed from his infected penis to her mouth, could her saliva contain the virus?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
23 months ago
Well, I didn't have the piece that she was the giver of oral sex to him, thus your question.  Now I understand what you are asking
So yes, it is possible that she could have HSV 2 orally though that is uncommon and when it happens, because HSV 2 doesn't like the mouth area, it rarely recurs or sheds.  And she didn't have HSV 2 orally before she got it genitally (or she wouldn't have gotten it genitally) and once you are infected at one location, you are extremely unlikely to get it in a new location, so IF she has it orally, then she likely acquired it in both locations at the same time.  Did she also have oral lesions when she acquired it genitally?

Terri
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23 months ago
I don't know the answer to your last question. What I do know is that the first evidence she had that something was happening was that she had a crusty spot on her buttocks that came back several times so she had it tested and was positive for HSV2. My understanding is that the HSV2 virus can travel from the oral area to the area in the genitals where it normally resides. So, hypothetically,  if she did get it orally first, could her saliva be a source of transmission?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
23 months ago
That is an incorrect understanding.  Herpes does not travel from one location on your body to another (mouth to genitals), through the body.  That doesn't happen.  However, a person can get infected at both locations at the same time by giving oral sex to a person who has HSV 2 and also having unprotected intercourse with that same person. 

Terri
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Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
23 months ago
So it appears that your question was slightly different - you aren't asking if the virus can travel through the body - you are asking if the virus can be transferred from the mouth to the genital for giving oral sex.  So if someone has HSV 2 orally and gives oral sex to another person it is theoretically possible that they could transfer virus from their mouth to the genitals of the person to whom they gave oral sex correct.  But several things would have be to happening here for that to happen.  First, of course, the person would need to be infected orally, which is uncommon.  Next, assuming the person has oral HSV 2, they would need to be shedding virus at the exact moment that they were giving oral sex and we know that HSV 2 oral infection rarely is shed and often it is active at the same time their genital infection is active, so there might be so awareness there of the timing.   I hope that answers   your question.

Terri
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