Avatar universal

STD (Mis)information

Hi - I am new to this website and forum and have come here because I am so confused with all the information regarding STDs. Basically my question is related to STDs in general - but more specifically, Herpes and Genital Warts (for the sake of argument can we pls assume that Herpes is an STD).

I have read that with both Herpes and Genital Warts, someone can still contract these infections through sexual contact with a carrier of these viruses - EVEN IF the carrier displays NO symptoms.

In fact, the carrier MAY NOT EVEN BE AWARE they are a carrier, and STILL pass on the virus.

I have also read that a condom may not be enough to protect a man as Herpes and Genital Warts are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact.

So, in relation to the above, my questions specifically are:

1. Is a man at risk of an STD (including Herpes and Genital Warts) by receiving oral sex and/or engaging in vaginal penetration with a woman (sexual worker or otherwise) if he wears a condom?

For example, if the woman makes oral contact with a man's genital area (apart from the penis with condom) is there a chance of Herpes being transmitted through oral contact with the scrotum and surrounding area?

And the same with Genital Warts - what is the risk level in this scenario? What exactly is the type of skin-to-skin contact that lends itself to a risk of infection - and which the condom is unable to protect against?

2. Is there any risk from French kissing? e.g. - if a woman has oral herpes / or any other STD (but either doesn't know she has or isn't showing any symptoms), can that be transmitted to a man via French kissing?

3. Do these or any STD viruses reside in any other parts of the body (apart from mouth and genitals)? Could a man get infected in any way by exposing his tongue to the breast area / nipples / buttocks / inner thighs or other parts of the female body.

4. If the woman touches her genitals and then touches the man's genital area, is there a risk of passing any infection here?

My apologies in advance if these questions seem immature or "basic". I have only seen contradictory information which is confusing and all Im trying to do is get educated so I can make better informed decisions with a general understand of the risks involved.

Thank you very much

ps - when I ask "is there a risk", Im sure there is always a risk - so all Im trying to understand is the degree of risk....

5 Responses
Avatar universal
You will have to post in the Herpes and HPV forum, they are best suited to answer those questions.
Avatar universal
ok will do - but can you pls answer with reference to other STDs (not Herpes and Genital Warts)

Avatar universal
1. No real risk
2. No
3. No
4. No
Avatar universal
You're getting too worked up over this.  

First of all, oral sex is generally low risk.  Not risk free, but low enough of a risk that you don't need to lose sleep over it.  This is why most physicians don't even bother recommending condoms for oral sex.  

There are two types of herpes viruses one and two.  One appears on your lips, two appears on your genitals.  If you've ever had a cold sore on your lip, you already have herpes one.  You don't catch herpes two through oral sex.  You could catch it through unprotected vaginal or anal sex, so use a condom.  

As for genital warts, you're almost certainly going to get exposed to them if you have sex.  They're actually pretty common, and are usually asymptomatic (meaning you don't notice them and they go away on their own).  If you're having sex with people, you can expect to be exposed to genital warts at some point in your life.  Not really something you should worry about, since there's not much you can do about them anyway.  

Basic rule of thumb:  oral sex is generally pretty safe.  Use a condom for vaginal or anal sex.  If you show symptoms of an STI (discharge or burning), see your doctor.  Otherwise, get tested as part of your annual physical.    Go have some fun and not get so worked up over this.
Avatar universal
1. Yep, condoms virtually eliminate the risk for the other big ones (chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.) but where these two are acquired through skin-to-skin contact it is still possible to acquire them while using a condom. However, a condom greatly reduces this risk. I can't remember the exact numbers, but I believe a condom reduces HSV transmission by 65% for female to male and 95% for male to female. With an already low transmission rate while the virus is dormant  (~10% per annum, which works out to roughly 1/5000 encounters), these are pretty good odds.

2. If one partner has cold sores, the transmission rate of HSV-1 is high from kissing. However, HSV-1 is NOT HSV-2 (genital herpes). In fact, most people already have HSV-1 from a childhood infection. It is possible to obtain a genital HSV-1 infection from oral sex while someone is having an oral outbreak, but this is not common. Otherwise, if no sores are present, not kissing someone because they have HSV-1 is pretty ridiculous. I once heard a doctor say that disclosing HSV-1 before kissing is like disclosing that you coughed a couple of days ago.

3. Yes and No; Herpes can present itself all over the body (i.e. herpetic whitlow, herpes zoster, etc.) but if there are no lesions, contact outside the genital area is completely safe even if they carry the virus. These other forms of herpes are also VERY uncommon and shouldn't be a cause for worry in general to the best of my knowledge (not a doctor). But to answer your question, yes it is possible for herpes to exist outside of the oral and genital region. I know someone personally who has had HSV-1 manifest around their eyes on one occasion. It was easily treated and has not reoccurred.

4. In theory yes, but realistically no. Extremely low risk. Almost zero.

In general, I would advise you not to worry too much as long as you use a condom for any vaginal/anal sex. Protection is still acceptable and perfectly okay for oral too, but if you opt not to use it the odds are in your favor. If you have any pronounced symptoms, go see a doc but otherwise don't worry so much. I spent months worrying (hence why I know all this nonsense) over a protected encounter and every little symptom I experienced ended up being nothing, just my brain freaking out. I know it can be tough!

wow I just wrote a novel and then realized this is a 4 year old post. Hope it helps someone lol
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the STDs / STIs Community

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Here are 16 facts you need to know to protect yourself from contracting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease.
How do you keep things safer between the sheets? We explore your options.
Can HIV be transmitted through this sexual activity? Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia answers this commonly-asked question.
A breakthrough study discovers how to reduce risk of HIV transmission by 95 percent.
Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia provides insight to the most commonly asked question about the transfer of HIV between partners.
The warning signs of HIV may not be what you think. Our HIV and STD expert Sean Cummings reports in-depth on the HIV "Triad" and other early symptoms of this disease.