Can you get genital herpes from a cold sore?
Yes — it is possible to get genital herpes from oral sex.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes viruses — HSV-1 and HSV-2. Genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2; oral herpes (cold sores) is usually caused by HSV-1.
However, genital herpes can occasionally also be caused by HSV-1. Someone with HSV-1 can transmit the virus through oral contact with another person's genitals, anus, or mouth, even if they don't have sores that are visible at the time.
Other than abstinence (not having sex) the best way to help prevent herpes is to use a condom during any type of sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). Girls should have their partners use a dental dam every time they receive oral sex to help protect against STDs. And if either partner has a sore, it’s best to not have sex until the sore has cleared up.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2011
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
|Planned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.|
|American Social Health Association This nonprofit organization is dedicated to preventing sexually transmitted diseases and offers hotlines for prevention and control of STDs.|
|Cold Sores (HSV-1) Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are pretty common and lots of people get them. So what causes them and what can you do?|
|What's a Dental Dam? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Genital Herpes You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Read about how to protect yourself.|
|5 Myths About STDs There's lots of misinformation out there about STDs. We set the record straight on 5 of the most common myths.|
|Condom Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to find out how condoms work - and how well they protect against pregnancy and STDs.|
|Talking to Your Partner About Condoms Some people - even those who are having sex - are embarrassed by the topic of condoms. Here are some tips for talking about condoms with your partner.|
|About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.