Is it safe to have sex when I have a cold sore?

Dear Dr. Amy:

I get herpes on my lips once and a while and I was wondering if I have a sore on my lips and I perform oral sex on a man, is it possible to give him genital herpes? What about if I don’t have a sore, can he still get it?
Thanks Jessica

Dr. Amy’s Response:

Dear Jessica:

The riskiest time for you to perform oral sex on your partner would be when you have a sore on your lip, because that is indicating very clearly, that you are having an active outbreak. This would be a high risk activity at this time.

When the sore is not present, you can still transmit herpes to his genitals. It is not as likely, but again, there is no guarantee that you would not be shedding the virus after the sore has healed. To practice safe sex when performing oral sex, to maintain optimum protection for yourself as well as for your partner, it is recommended your partner wear a condom. When choosing a condom for oral sex, do not use one that is lubricated since you will be placing it in your mouth. The taste will generally be disagreeable.


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