STDs Expert Forum
Herpes & protected oral sex
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Herpes & protected oral sex

Hi, I visit a female sex worker from time to time. Because I'm affraid for STD's I always only have protected oral sex. Today I received protected oral sex for 10 minutes. Afterwards I noticed the girl had a small sore on her lips. She put a cream on it. I asked her if she had herpes, but she denied. After some talking it indeed seemed to be oral herpes, she didn't knew it was the same as vaginal herpes. She had it for a week and it was almost cured, but not completely yet. Now I'm totally in panick I could have caught herpes on my penis. She also masturbated me and there was clear skin contact on the part below the condom. I read that herpes is extremely contagious and condoms aren't completely protective against it. Can she have transferred the virus with her hand to the unprotect skin?  What are the chances I get herpes? How long does it take to get symptoms if they would appear? I also have a girlfriend and am so affraid.
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Welcome to the forum.  Thanks for your question.

Congratulations on your wise decision to consistently use condoms for your exposures to the commercial sex worker.

Based on your description, it does seem possible your partner has recurrent oral herpes and had a healing outbreak at the time of your last exposure, and my replies below assume that she has an oral HSV-1 infection.  But even if that is true, I doubt you are at risk of catching it.

First, herpes is really not "extemely contagious"; it's actually rather hard to transmit, and most sexual contacts do not transmit the virus even if one partner has an active outbreak.  Second, if your partner's oral outbreak had been present a week and was starting to heal, it is unlikely the virus still was present.

Third, the condom would have been almost 100% protective.  It is true that condoms are only partly protective, but that's because in vaginal sex, there is a lot of skin contact above the condom, and over time, herpes often is transmitted even with consistent condom use.  But this is for genital HSV-2, not oral HSV-1.  The virus cannot pass through an intact condom, and for oral sex that only had contact with the covered portion of the penis, there is no transmission risk.

Finally, hand-genital contact almost never carries enough virus to allow transmission, even if saliva is used as lubricant.  I can't say this would never happen, but if it does, it is very rare.

And by the way, have you ever had oral herpes yourself, as far as you know?  Half of all people have had it, often without symptoms.  If so, you are immune to a new HSV-1 infection, anywhere on your body.

So my advice is to not worry about this.  If in the next 10 days you have no symptoms of penle herpes -- blisters or sores on the shaft not covered by the condom -- you can be confident you were not infected.  If I were in your situation, I wouldn't even wait that long -- I would continue unprotected sex with my wife without worry.

I hope this has been helpful. Best wishes--  HHH, MD
4 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Dear dr Handsfield,

Thank you for the clear information! No herpes symptoms so far and I hope it stays like this.

Because I was so anxious the past days I was also looking for other symptoms when I look to my penis. I frequently check my penis, as I'm really affraid for STD's. When I squeeze my penis I sometimes have a tiny bit of slime. But only a very tiny bit, it's not even a drop. It does not come out by itself or my penis isn't leaking.

It's not every day. It's just because it's slimy (when i touch it a string forms) that i'm a bit concerned. could this be due to chlamydia? i read the symptoms can be very mild and hard to notice. would a chlamydia discharge be continuous?

maybe I should do an STD checkup to rest my mind.
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239123_tn?1267651214
Stop examining yourself.  You're just seeing normal urethral mucus, or perhaps pre-ejaculate fluid, if you recently had an erection (e.g. during sleep).  If you don't see obvious discharge on casual glancing and there are no stains in your underwear, then you don't have an abnormal discahrge.  And chlamydia is nearly impossible in this situation -- you used a condom for vaginal sex and chlamydia is rarely if ever transmitted by oral sex.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks!
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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