Can I have herpes when I’m still a virgin?

Dear Dr. Amy:

I am a 19 year old male, and am not sure if I have herpes or not. I have never had sex, or really gone out with a girl. I have not had oral sex or anything. Yet, I have these bumps on the shaft of my penis which can be squeezed and a puss (totally like a pimple) comes out. I don’t recall ever having symptoms like burning urination or itching or anything. The only thing I do is ocassionally masturbate. Can this be a factor for Herpes, or could these bumps be another medical problem that is treatable? I have had these things for a number of years, and am scared to go to the doctor. Please help. 

Dr. Amy’s Response:

Herpes is caused by a viral infection, either Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV1) or Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV2). Masturbation does not cause herpes unless you have herpes on your hand or already have the virus. It is not friction, but direct contact with herpes that causes the transmission from one area or one person to another. Friction can trigger an outbreak if the virus is already present.

I understand how scared you must be if this has been going on for several years. I suggest you find a physician who you feel comfortable with so you can discuss your concerns and get an accurate diagnosis. Be sure to ask your questions regarding masturbation. You might also want to use a lubricant, such as Astroglide, to reduce the friction when you masturbate.


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