[Question #5694] herpes and barrier protection

21 months ago

I’m 57, male, married.  I’m Caucasian, very healthy, strong immunity system, no STD’s.   

I enjoy secret sexual activities with professional female escorts.  I want to reduce my chances of getting herpes.  I always use a condom for intercourse and anal sex.  I do not partake in oral activities with these escorts, such as kissing, or oral sex.  I know that herpes, is transmitted by skin to skin contact, and can be spread to areas not covered by the condom, such as the scrotum, and the thighs.  I've read that the target area for transmission of herpes is approximately the area of a pair of boxer shorts.

If I wear a condom, and I wear form fitting knit, or spandex, boxers or shorts, that have a tight or small fly opening, over the condom, will this reduce the chances of getting herpes for the non-covered condom areas?  

My thinking is that I placed the condom on first, then I put on the form fitting shorts, the condom goes through a small fly opening, thus my penis, scrotum, testicles and thighs will never make skin to skin contact with my partner.  Will this method work to reduce my chances of getting herpes?  If yes, what material would be best for the shorts?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
20 months ago
So let me fine tune your knowledge here a bit - after being infected, herpes lesions can show up anywhere in the boxer shorts area, that is correct.  But the virus is only shed from areas of very thin skin or mucous membrane so that include the vagina, labia, anus.  it does not include belly, thigh, buttocks.  so while outbreaks can show up there, without lesions those last areas listed are not infectious with no sores present.  Your strategy sounds like it would definitely offer additional protection against acquiring herpes, yes

20 months ago
Hello Ms Warren,
Thank you for your reply to my question and additional information.
I just want to reiterate and make sure I understand everything 100%.

From your response, my take away is that herpes lesions can show up in the boxer shorts area, but the virus can only shed from areas of very thin skin or mucous membrane, which on a woman is the vagina, labia and anus.  From my knowledge, herpes can sometimes be spread if there are no symptoms.  Also many people don't even know that they have the herpes virus, and or, they do not always know when they are shedding.

So if a woman, has herpes, she may have lesions in the equivalent  of her boxer short area.  However, the virus will only shed from the areas of her vagina, labia, and anus.  Is this correct?  

Is shedding the only variable that makes the herpes virus spreadable to others?

If I wear a condom, and only engage in oral sex with a condom, and no kissing, with the female, is my risk of catching herpes, pretty low?

My initial question and plan for the extra barrier of the shorts, was to eliminate or reduce my chances of getting herpes on the non-condom areas of  my body such as my scrotum, thighs, etc.  My thinking was that during intercourse, it's possible for a woman's labia to come in contact with a men's scrotum, thighs, buttocks, etc.
However from your initial response, is sounds like there is no risk, or very minimal risk of herpes, being contracted from a female to a male, in these areas.  
Is this correct?

If the answers to the above questions are mostly yes, is it pretty safe for me to assume that a condom only should be pretty sufficient for not getting the herpes virus from a female partner?

Finally, I would prefer, not to implement my plan of wearing shorts, as an extra barrier, while having sex with a female partner.
Assuming I always use a condom, would you recommend me not wearing the shorts as extra protection?  
Or is wearing the shorts and a condom, a good or viable idea for protecting myself from receiving the herpes virus?

I would like to personally thank you and your association for providing such valuable responses and information in the world of sexual education.  Many people have little or no resources for sexual related questions.  Your association does a wonderful job in providing very helpful information.  You and your organization are really helping to make the world a better and safer place.  Thank you!!!!! 

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
20 months ago
You are correct about areas of shedding.
If you use a condom for intercourse and oral sex, transmission is very low
Condoms are less effective to protect men than they are to protect women because of area of the female coming into contact with part of the male not covered by a condom, correct.  So there is some risk, particularly to the shaft of the penis in areas where the condom does not cover.
Adding the shorts will give you added protection but added to an already low risk event, particularly if the partner is taking daily antiviral medication.
I'm so glad we could be of help