STD Resource Center

Everything You Need To Know About STDS


Oral and Genital Herpes and how they are transmitted

  • herpes
  • oral herpes
  • genital herpes
  • hsv-1
  • hsv-2

Question:

"If I have a cold sore on my mouth and perform oral sex on my girlfriend, will I give her herpes?"

- Anonymous

Response:

Great question. Let's take a little time to talk about herpes.

Herpes comes in two varieties. There is HSV-1 and HSV-2. These are also known as oral herpes and genital herpes. HSV-1 usually manifests itself as cold sores on or around the mouth. HSV-1 is not considered an STD unless it is spread via unprotected oral sex, which is genital-to-mouth contact.

The other type of herpes is HSV-2. This is genital herpes. It usually manifests itself as open sores on or around the genitals. It is spread via skin to skin contact during sexual activity.

Despite HSV-1 not being considered an STD, it can be spread to another person's genitals during unprotected oral sex. Also, if oral sex is performed on somebody with HSV-2, then it can be spread to that person's mouth.

Using protection can greatly reduce the risk of transmitting both types of herpes. It is important to us condoms or dental dams while performing oral sex.

If you are experiencing symptoms of either HSV-1 or HSV-2, you should get yourself tested. There is no cure for either form of herpes, but treatments are available.


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