Yikes!!! Your response to lauralonglegs was terribly irresponsible. The correct answer to the question is that, pending a major medical breakthrough, she is contagious until she dies. The measures one can take to reduce the probability of transfer are well known (condoms, prescription medication, abstinence during outbreaks), but it can never be eliminated completely.
As for the "how long" question, answers to that question vary even among physicians, but usually extend to some number of days prior and after, not simply 24 hours before and after the skin is visibly normal.
Please accept my apologies. My post was insensitive and impetuous. It was factual, but atrociously undiplomatic.
First of all, to Laura, I'd like to advise that she educate herself on the subject as much as she can, even outside of forums like this one, and my recommendation would be to start with an excellent book: Managing Herpes: Living and Loving With HSV by Charles Ebel and Anna Wald, MD, and MPH. After that, a consultation with your physician would be in order.
Obviously, contagiousness is greater during an outbreak, but depending on more factors than I have time to elaborate on here, risk can be greatly minimized. I know 2 couples who have been married for many years (one for 30, the other for 10) wherein one partner has one form or the other of genital HSV, and the other partner has never yet had an outbreak.
As for me, I have never been tested, and have never had an outbreak. My partner has genital HSV-2 and takes Valtrex religiously. We place no limits on our sexual activities except during her outbreaks, and although I usually wear a condom, I don't always.
It is impossible to cover all the scenerios when replying. The 24 hours prior to the ob and until the skin is healed is the recommended advice to be given and is given by all of us here on medhelp who advise on genital herpes. Does it apply 100% of the time to 100% of posters? Absolutely not but it is the average and is in the ballpark for most folks. You are not contagious 24/7/365 with genital herpes though. Treating ob's also reduces the amount of time that the virus is active during a recurrence. I'm not quite sure how you thought my response to the original poster was irresponsible by no means.
I'm horrified. I had sex about 3 days after an outbreak ended and had no sores or irritation. however after PROTECTED sex I felt a little "itch" where a sore was a few days ago and felt a hint of the bump still there. I had checked myself and cleaned "down there" before intercourse so I thought it was "safe" to have sex WITH a condom. Is my partner likely to get infected now? He was also "dry rubbing" against my vagina with his penis during fore play before putting on the condom. I'm freaking out and feeling horrible thinking that he'll get infected even though we had protected sex and even though i did not feel any indication of the bump that didn't completely disappear before intercourse. How likely is he to get infected?
Let me put it to you this way, similar to what one of the previous posters initially said. You are potentially contagious at all times unless you're swabbing and testing yourself prior to having sex. Shedding is a major issue, especially with women because it happens in the vaginal tract, which contains fluid when , which could easily be passed onto your partner if you're shedding. I caught HSV2 from a woman's vaginal fluids, to which she had no visual sores. Think about how easy and how much area fluid can cover and penetrate on skin....one extremely small opening is all that is needed for HSV2 to cause an infection. Go under the perception that you can be contagious at all times even though most of the time you probably are not.
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