ZocdocAnswersIs it safe to have sex with someone with herpes when I also currently have a herpes breakout?

Question

Is it safe to have sex with someone with herpes when I also currently have a herpes breakout?

I recently tested negative for both Type 1 & 2 Herpes in my blood test, but positive for type 1 on the swab test (which was on genitals). Partner broke out at the same time as me but only took a swab test on her genitals which was also positive for type 1.

Answer

Please continue to see your physician to discuss your new diagnosis of herpes, and to openly discuss your concerns as well as treatment options. As you may have discussed, there are several types of herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV. The strain detected on genital swab can cause both oral and genital herpes, while the other common strain does not typically cause oral lesions. Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by contact with an infected partner. Condoms do not fully protect from transmission. Spread to a partner without HSV is most likely to occur during an outbreak; however, transmission can also happen without a visible outbreak. If you are considering a new sexual partner, it is important to be open about your diagnosis and the risk of spreading HSV before intercourse. Further, oral intercourse carries the risk of spread to the oral cavity, and this should be considered when discussing sexual practices with any partner. If both partners have HSV, you cannot worsen the infection, though intercourse during an outbreak may worsen trauma to the area, which can lead to more pain or more lesions. Please be sure to follow up with your doctor, as there are medications available that can help alleviate and shorten outbreaks.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.