[Question #7384] Herpes shedding

6 months ago
Hello, I’m currently on a gram of valtrex a day. I recently had intercourse with my GF using a condom. After I noticed what looked like a herpes sore half way down my penis. It was covered by the condom and it didn’t break.  Her genitals didn’t touch the sore. 

1) Would my partner be at risk from this?

2) Am I shedding HSV-2 all over my penis during this period? 

2A) The condom doesn’t cover my whole penis. The bottom of my penis isn’t covered. So if I had a sore that was on an area that was COVERED by the condom would she be able to get HSV-2 from shedding of areas that aren’t covered by the condom while I have an open sore?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
6 months ago
1.  No, if the condom stayed intact and her genitals were not in direct contact with the sore, she is not at risk of infection. 
2.  Shedding of HSV 2 can happen anywhere on the shaft of the penis, the common site for viral shedding in men. 
3.  Its a common question for men with herpes about the part of the penis not covered entirely with a condom - could that area infect my partner?  While we don't have exact information on that question, we do know that condoms reduce transmission of HSV 2 by 96% when condoms are used with every intercourse.  And in your case, you are also on antiviral medication daily which reduces transmission by half again.  You also don't sound 100% convinced that this was a herpes lesion, or maybe I'm not reading that correctly. Given all of this, I think transmission to your partner is highly unlikely.  If 1 gram daily isn't stopping your outbreaks, you might want to consider taking 500 mg twice a day, about 12 hours apart, so the drug levels stay more even over the course of the day.