Herpes and Oral Sex

Having herpes and oral sex usually strikes fear into the hearts of our partners.  Look at it from their point of view...it's one thing to potentially expose a genital area to an infection but it's entirely different when someone puts their mouth on it. 

From my personal standpoint of having genital herpes and enjoying oral sex, I'd hate to think that I could never enjoy the pleasures of giving or receiving it ever again.  For me, this is such an intimate act of showing love that is both pleasurable and intoxicating.  I can't even imagine being in a loving relationship and not share those pleasures with my partner.  Or having a partner that was so scared to not show me the same. 

I've been living with genital herpes for well over 20 years and I've also enjoyed receiving oral sex for many years while at the same time, protecting my partners.  So it can be done if the proper precautions are taken.

Let's begin examining this issue with the very basics of herpes and oral sex.

What is Oral Sex?

Oral sex or oral intercourse is basically defined as an act of sexual intimacy that involves the stimulation of the genitals or the areas in and around the genital area using the mouth, tongue, lips, teeth or throat.  Oral sex is often looked upon as being an extremely intimate or extremely erotic act from either mouth-to-penis (fellatio), mouth-to-vagina (cunnilingus) or mouth-to-anus.

But that is the official definition.  Mine is somewhat different as for me, it is an important part of building intimacy in a relationship.  A building block of sorts that allows two people to be totally uninhibited in sex and their relationship.  But I realize that not everyone will share my view.  Some people simply look at it as another form of sex...and that's fine.

But either viewpoint still has it's principles and values and having herpes and oral sex is a personal choice and should be thoroughly discussed with your partner.  Some people like giving and receiving while others don't.

Some important things to consider when discussing herpes and oral sex is your values.  You need to look at where your relationship is and where it's going.  You should consider how you feel about giving and receiving oral sex.  You should consider how your partner feels about giving and receiving oral sex too.  And finally, you need to talk about the risks of getting or transmitting herpes and oral sex.

Herpes and Oral Sex

Herpes is a virus that is transmitted through skin to skin contact and is spread from the genital area to the mouth and from the mouth to the genital area.  Although there is less risk of infection through oral sex than through traditional sex, the risk still exist.

Your partner should completely understand that there is always a chance of having the virus transmitted to them. No matter how good you are at knowing your condition and the precautions you're taking there is a chance.

Although most people think about genital herpes and oral sex, it's a fact that HSV-1 is the leading cause of genital herpes simply because younger people are finding out the pleasures of having oral sex at a much younger age. 

Will My Partner Ever Be Able to Safely Give Me Oral Sex?

Before you can fully protect your partner, you must first understand every thing you can about how HSV-2 uniquely affects your body. You must be fully aware of your own herpes triggers (things that you do or eat that may trigger an outbreak).

You must know your own early warning signs of herpes and avoid oral sex (or any other sex) when you begin to experience them. And it should go without saying that you should not have oral sex while you are experiencing an outbreak.

Another thing worth knowing about herpes and oral sex is that both HSV-1 and HSV-2 prefer to live in the areas of the body where they are most active.

What I mean by this is...

HSV-1 (cold sores) prefers to live around the mouth and face area of the body. This doesn't mean that you can't get HSV-1 in the genital area, it just means that HSV-1 is not not as "active" in the area of the body that it doesn't prefer to live. Meaning that if you have HSV-1 in the genital region your outbreaks and frequency of outbreaks tend to not be as severe or occur as often as they would if you had HSV-1 in the mouth and face region.

On the flip side of this is HSV-2 (genital herpes). It also prefers to live in the genital region of the body but to more of a degree than HSV-1. What I mean by this is that HSV-2 does not survive well at all in the mouth area.

This is good news for those of us with genital herpes and are worried about transmitting the virus to our partners during oral sex.

Because spreading it to the mouth area is very rare. And in those instances where it is spread, many people have reported that they've only experienced one or two outbreaks and that they are extremely mild where they could have easily been mistaken for something else.

Would The Use of Valtrex, Reduce The Risk of Spreading Herpes During Oral Sex?

IAbout Valtrex:  Yes.  Valtrex has been shown in numerous studies to lessen the risk of transmission of the virus.  If you take Valtrex daily, avoid having sex during an outbreak and use condoms the transmission rates are about 1-3%.  Practically the same  risk of getting pregnant while using birth control pills.

The important thing to remember is that HSV can be transmitted even without signs and symptoms of an outbreak through viral shedding. Viral shedding occurs more frequently during the first year or two and gradually decreases as time passes.

Using Barriers to Protect Your Partners From Herpes During Oral Sex

Aside from not having sex during outbreak and using Valtrex many people want to take more precautions by using different types of barriers. A barrier prevent direct skin-to-skin contact and is one of the best ways to prevent spreading herpes during oral sex.

Let's examine some the different barriers available and how to effectively use them...

Barriers for Herpes and Oral Sex on The Vagina or Anus

For people wanting to use barriers to protect them from herpes while performing oral sex on a vagina or anus there are many options available.

Dental Dams or Other Square Latex Barriers

Dental Dams offer a person a strong and reliable barrier and you can often find them in different flavors that will enhance the oral sex experience.  However, they do have some disadvantages...

Dental Dams are not easy to find...it's not like you'll find them at your local drug store.  You'll have to search for them online or at dental supply stores.

Here is a list of Dental Dams on Amazon

You'll also experience less feelings of pleasure and sensation of warmth.  They only provide so much protections and are limited by their size.  You can only protect the area that it covers.  A minor inconvenience that has been reported is that you may have to hold it in place.

Plastic Wrap Such As Saran Wrap or Cling Wrap

An inexpensive and easily available barrier that a lot of people use is plastic wrap.  It can be found in just about any type of grocery or drug store plus it can very effective.  You can cover a large area and it offers the pleasure of having more feelings of sensation than Dental Dams because it will allow heat to come through.  Plus you can also use it with various oil and water based lubricants without fearing that the material will break down.

The only drawback that has been reported is that it can easily rip with your fingernails. 

Cutting A Rectangle From A Condom

Cutting a retangled area from a condom is another popular way that some people use to provide a barrier during oral sex.  Although condoms are readily available and easy to buy they have much the same limitations as Dental Dams.  They only offer a limited amount of protection and cannot cover larger areas of the body where the herpes virus tends to hide.  Plus you are limited to using only water-based products to enhance your experience.

Barriers for Oral Sex on The Penis

Condoms (water based, and/or flavored)

About the only effective barrier for oral sex from the mouth to the penis is the use of condoms.  They are easy to find and buy at many drug stores, grocery store, etc.  But the disadvantages are that they don't tend to taste very good and some people say that they dry out their mouth. That's why a lot of people prefer to use flavored condoms.  Another disadvantage is that they only provide proection to a smaller area (no offense guys but as compared to the whole genital region...it is small).  You might be able to use a combination of using a condom and Saran Wrap to cover larger areas...if needed.

Herpes and Oral Sex Conclusion

How ever you decide to tackle the issue of herpes and oral sex, remember that communication is the key.  Learning and discussing your partner's fears, pleasures and boundaries will not only help you enjoy oral sex but also bring about an intimacy that will make the whole journey a much more pleasurable adventure.

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