[Question #7319] HSV-1 transmission

4 months ago
I am a man and have HSV-1 in my genital area. I got it in 2015, got a minor flare-up in 2017 and have a few questions related to a recent episode.

1.  Two days ago in the evening, I noticed a small swollen area/bump on the head of my penis that seemed to be filled with a clear fluid. I took this to be HSV-1 shedding. I went to sleep and got up a few hours later to use the bathroom and the bump was totally gone. It seemed as if nothing had happened. A day later, a scab appeared and that scab went away in a day. What are the chances that this is a flare up of HSV-1?

2. I had sex with my female partner immediately prior to discovering the bump. She has HSV-1, but not in the genital area. What are the chances that she was infected if it was a flare up?

3. Can she know that she was infected in the genitals absent an initial breakout? Or, if there is no breakout, can she be certain that there was no infection?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
4 months ago
It is so difficult to say if this was an outbreak or not, but if it was, it sure resolved in a big hurry! 
Once a person has HSV 1 in one location (in her case, oral) it is highly unlikely they will acquire it in a new location.  If by some wild chance, she acquired HSV 1 in the genital area, she might not have symptoms there at all.  Your HSV 1 should be shedding very infrequently now since you've had it for 5 years.  On average, people who have had HSV 1 genitally for two years shed virus on 4 days out of the year.  I think you are in an extremely low-risk situation with your current partner.

Terri
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