5:48 pm - 10/06/2003

oral sex + cold sore?

i frequently get cold sores on my mouth. it is hereditary on my mom's side and i've been getting them since childhood.

a friend just told me that i shouldn't give oral sex during this time, in case i spread herpes, but... do cold sores necessarily indicate herpes? i've given oral sex to boyfriends without condoms (both partners being tested, don't worry bout that) even if i've had cold sores, and as far as i know none of them have gotten herpes. in fact, none of them have even gotten cold sores from kissing me, even after months or years of smoochies. should i start making it a habit to refrain, or is it not a big deal?
mactavish 6th-Oct-2003 02:59 pm (UTC)
Cold sores aren't hereditary, they're a virus -- specifically, herpes simplex 1. Many people get cold sores from so early in their lives that they don't realize it's a virus they've picked up.

Yes, if you give oral sex while you've got an active sore, you can give your partner herpes (but not herpes simplex 2, the usual form of genital herpes) on the genitals. You can also give folks herpes simplex 1 if you kiss during this time. It's contagious. You can ask your doctor for more advice on how not to spread it, and consider asking for a drug like Acyclovir, which can dramatically control outbreaks.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:36 pm (UTC)
my fiance has gotten cold sores on his mouth, but none in the time that we've been together. even if we've been kissy kissy during cold-sore time on my mouth. i also have gone down on him with cold sores, but not often... i hope he doesn't get sores on his pee-pee and then spread 'em to mine. that wouldn't be very fun. i'll talk to my doc. my latest sore on my mouth has been there for over 2 weeks and it's getting annoying!
krasota 6th-Oct-2003 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oral cold sores are *typically* HSV-1, but not necessarily. Ditto with veneral herpes blisters--usually HSV-2, but not necessarily.


I control my oral herpes with l-Lysine. I ask for acylcovir if I have a really bad outbreak, though. It lessens the duration and pain.

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melebeth 6th-Oct-2003 03:07 pm (UTC)
I know that asymptomatic shedding is a problem for genital herpes (i.e. being infective when you don't have symproms), but I don't know how much of an issue it is in the oral cavity. That having been said, most people with oral herpes (cold sores) get it when they're children from affectionate relatives squealing over them and kissing them. Somehow I find this massively destigmatizes the disease.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:35 pm (UTC)
huh, that's weird. my relatives are not the affectionate kissy type - in the part of india where i'm from, being all kissy smoochy drooly isn't very common. at least, not on either side of my family. so i wonder where i got it! i've had cold sores since i was a child. i always thought it was genetic since my mom gets them. hmmmmmmmmmmm...... maybe i got the smoochies from teachers, or friends' parents, or something?
elfbabe 6th-Oct-2003 03:14 pm (UTC)
Cold sores and genital herpes are both caused by the herpes simplex virus. However, there are two variants of HSV - one generally causes sores above the waist, one generally below. The majority of the population is infected with HSV1, the kind that gives you cold sores and prefers to stay above the waist. You usually get it as a kid when you auntie gives you a big kiss or something like that.

There's a very good page here on HSV1 and HSV2 and oral/genital transmission, but it's kind of complex. So, to summarize for your situation...

It would be possible for you to give your partner HSV1 in the genital area by performing unprotected oral sex. Even though HSV1 likes the upper body best, it'll still take hold in the genitals. However, if your partner already HAS HSV1 in the mouth area, then it's really unlikely that it would also affect him in the genital area. Really REALLY unlikely.

So, if your partners remember ever having had cold sores, then they're pretty safe. If they don't remember having them, they may ALSO be safe, because only 10% of infected people actually get the sores.

As for what to do? Your choice, I guess. If it's a partner you can talk to about these things without having an OMG HERPES U SUX0R reaction, then you may want to warn them just on the very small chance that there might be problems. But if it's a casual partner, you shouldn't feel like a horrible evil person for not telling, either.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:32 pm (UTC)
okay. my fiance said he does remember having cold sores on his mouth, though not often. and i have gone down on him during times where i've had a cold sore, and we don't seem to have problems. we've agreed to take it easy from now on though, and perhaps avoid it.

i've had this cold sore for like a month, though. oh well... sucks for him. or, better yet, NO sucks for him. >=)
elfbabe 6th-Oct-2003 03:55 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm trying to find the medical journal article that would give exact transmission rates, but it doesn't seem to be available online. Sadness. Anyway, good luck, and please do remember that just 'cause you don't have any sores doesn't mean that you're not shedding virus - something like 5% of the time when you don't have any obvious sores, you're still shedding virus. (Which means that your fiance could theoretically infect YOU, though it's quite unlikely, going from his mouth to your girlybits.)

Not trying to make you paranoid or anything. ^_-
sarah_bearah 6th-Oct-2003 03:16 pm (UTC)
This really isn't anything besides a randomish comment, but even if it does spread, is there a big deal?
It doesn't do anything besides give you the occasional cold sore, does it? Because I've had it since I was a kid, and most of my boyfriends have indeed gotten it from me who didn't have it already...
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:33 pm (UTC)
yeah, if it spreads to the mouth cold sores are no big deal, but my worry is that i'll spread it to his genitalia and then he'll spread it to mine, and i bet that's way more uncomfortable. i hate cold sores on my mouth... so painful and i can hardly open my mouth!
thornedillusion 6th-Oct-2003 03:34 pm (UTC)
Just because you don't mind having it, doesn't mean other people will feel the same. I've had HSV1 since I was a kid, and I've always hated it. The cold sores hurt, and I wouldn't knowingly inflict them on anyone. Any partner I have, no matter how casual, knows that kissing me carries the risk of getting HSV1, and I voluntarily abstain from kissing when I have a cold sore.

I'm also super careful about cross contamination when I have an active outbreak, no shared anything that touches my mouth and everything gets washed at least once a day. I have never passed it to anyone, and all of my partners have thanked me for being so considerate about it.
ninaf 6th-Oct-2003 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thats horrible. I can't believe anyone would say that. Yes its a big deal.
clydiebaby 6th-Oct-2003 09:25 pm (UTC)
Would you want someone who didn't mind dealing with a yeast infection (also spreadable) to take that attitude towards you?
Yeah, they won't kill you, but they hurt like hell. Why would you knowingly put someone you care about in the position to get them?
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