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Is safe to have oral sex when suffering from cold sore?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 11917 Questions
I,ve just started seeing some one and I have had cold sores off and for about 10 yrs. I have not had one for about 2 yrs but when I started seeing him I decided to take extra precaution nd stared on valtrax. We love to kiss a lot. Is this safe. Is oral sex safe. Do we really need to use condoms and dental dam. While on the valtrex what is the percentace I can pass this to him. I,ve never had a genital outbreak.
Posted Sun, 2 Feb 2014 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 50 minutes later
Brief Answer: risk low Detailed Answer: HI, thanks for using healthcare magic Oral herpes is caused by herpes simplex 1 predominantly whereas genital herpes is associated with herpes simplex 2. Because of oral intercourse sometimes herpes 2 is seen in the mouth area and herpes 1 in the genitalia. Your oral herpes , however, is likely herpes 1,since this is what is most common. Herpes 1, is in over 50 % of persons. Some persons may have this virus though they do not have any symptoms , this means it is possible that your partner may also silently have this virus. In terms of risk of transmission, though herpes can be transmitted when a person has no symptoms,the risk is lower especially with herpes 1. One study looked at persons for 691 days and herpes 1 was only shed in 12% of these days and only for 24 hours at a time.I can give the name of the study if you wish. This means there is a only very slight risk of transmission during oral intercourse.This would be reduced with the valtrex. Normally oral anti virals such as valtrex are used to suppress genital not oral herpes because most persons already have it even if they don't know it. An option would be for your partner to be evaluated for herpes 1, to see if he already has it. summary- the risk of transmission is small but present. The two of you would have to assess how much of a risk you are willing to take. I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
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