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What are the chances of genital herpes transmission through protected intercourse?

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Posted on Thu, 21 May 2015
Question: Herpes virus question - I've read that genital herpes can be transferred with no lesions present, via virus shedding, even if using a condom, on those areas not covered by a condom (external labia, base of penis, and surrounding areas) due to micro tears of the skin, especially during vigorous vaginal intercourse. Correct ??? Would a larger (girth, primarily) cause even more micross tears ?? Also, can frequent also cause more micro tears?

Thanks
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Answered by Dr. Kathy Robinson (29 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
it is true

Detailed Answer:
Hello and thank you for your question.
We do not understand all the mechanisms for transmission of herpes simplex virus. It used to be felt that if you did not have an outbreak you could not spread the virus. That has been show not to be the case. In couples where one is infected and the other is not, even if they do not have intercourse during an outbreak, the uninfected partner usually becomes infected in time. We also know that herpes virus can pass through a condom so wearing two condoms is more protective. It is true that some of the transmission is through microtears so any exposed area is at risk. It is also true that a larger penis, more vigorous sex and more frequent exposure may also increases the risk of transmission through increases in these microtears.
I hope this is helpful,
Dr. Robinson
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Kathy Robinson (14 hours later)
Thanks for your reply re: genital herpes.
Follow up question - about 20+ years ago, I had what I thought was a spider bite on the lower lateral side of my left thigh. I went to my dermatologist at the time to ask him why it's lasted longer, with different physical aspects of a normal spider bite. He took a scraping, returned and told me it was a herpes lesion. I was shocked, and asked him how I would have contracted that! He asked me if I went to a gym - yes; do you use machines - yes; do you wear shorts - yes. He said I probably picked it up from sitting on one of the seats on the machine, and should wear workout pants instead of shorts; which I have been ever since. Two of the physicians I work out with wear workout pants instead of shorts, for what they agree with what my dermatologist said.
However, I've recently read a few articles, stating transmission is impossible to get herpes from objects (gym machines, toilet seats, etc)., and it can only be transmitted via person-to-person skin contact - ie, sexual partners, wrestlers, etc.
So, what does the latest research regards the above say?
My dermatologist (Dr.A. Mehle,MD) , told me that when he first diagnosed the lesion, and when I asked him the same question a few months ago, he said the same.
Am not trying to contradict Dr. Mehle, just trying to sort through this.
Thankyou. XXXXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Kathy Robinson (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
usually through sexual or close contact

Detailed Answer:
Herpes is usually transmitted through direct skin on skin contact. The herpes virus does not live long outside of the body. It is possible that if you immediately got on a machine at the gym that was just used by someone with an open oozing herpes lesion that you could contact it in that way, but it is not the usual case. If you can not explain how you got it in any other way then it must have been from some gym contact. It is not impossible to get it in that way just not frequent a means of transmission.
Regards, Dr. Robinson
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Dr. Kathy Robinson

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Practicing since :1989

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What are the chances of genital herpes transmission through protected intercourse?

Brief Answer: it is true Detailed Answer: Hello and thank you for your question. We do not understand all the mechanisms for transmission of herpes simplex virus. It used to be felt that if you did not have an outbreak you could not spread the virus. That has been show not to be the case. In couples where one is infected and the other is not, even if they do not have intercourse during an outbreak, the uninfected partner usually becomes infected in time. We also know that herpes virus can pass through a condom so wearing two condoms is more protective. It is true that some of the transmission is through microtears so any exposed area is at risk. It is also true that a larger penis, more vigorous sex and more frequent exposure may also increases the risk of transmission through increases in these microtears. I hope this is helpful, Dr. Robinson