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snicky

Can you get herpes through manual sex, or while wearing boxers & a condom?

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snicky

I have been dating a very nice woman,and things were starting to get intimate when she told me that she has hsv-2. We have not had any kind of sex other than manual at this point, and so I am now faced with the decision of whether or not to take the risk (using condoms of course), and since she has never had an outbreak, it seems rather small. But then I began to think about whether the activity we had already been involved with may have been risky already, and I can't find many answers to that question on the sites I have seen so far. Anyone have an answer for me? And also, would wearing underwear and a condom create enough of a barrier to prevent contact with the virus?

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AquariusAngel

Hi Snicky and welcome :D

Even though your girlfriend hasn't had an outbreak there is still such a thing as viral shedding. Look to the right of here under the Prevention tab. Since she has not had an outbreak, chances are much less likely that you would contract it, but at the same time it is not rare either. Regarding your last question, it would depend on where the outbreak was. The main danger point is if the infected skin touches uninfected skin, so if the virus was on her inner thighs for example, you would need to cover up so your skin doesn't come into contact with hers. It is strongly advised not to engage in sexual activities during an outbreak, for the risk of transmitting.

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snicky

Thanks, AquariusAngel

I am trying to figure all this out, and I do really want to have a sexual relationship with her, but the word that keeps popping into my head is "incurable." Am I crazy to willingly involve myself sexually with someone I *know* has it, even if the risk is relatively low? I hate the idea of breaking up with a wonderful person just on this basis, but I also know it would not be the end of the world and there are "plenty of fish in the sea," yada yada yada. Still doesn't make me feel better about losing her. I have heard many people say herpes is not the end of the world or even just a minor inconvenience, or even unnoticeable. Yet I have read posts on this forum of people in so much pain that they are having suicidal thoughts, and I feel for them (but definitely wouldn't want to be in their shoes). I know this is probably not going to happen to me, but I am not one to play Russian Roulette either, and I certainly don't want to be part of spreading an epidemic. But on the other hand, maybe I am making *way* too big of a deal out of this. I am so confused! :madd:

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elmerette

welcome

Welcome Snicky,

My giver didn't know she had it, and I can honestly say that I don't know that I still would have had sex if she had. However, I would have missed out on a wonderful woman. If you truly feel like you say, then I would advise you to educate yourself, find out what you need to do to protect yourself, what the chances are of catching it are if you take precautions. I would hate to see you miss out on a wonderful woman that may be the one. You should look up RealisticGal, she is with a partner that has herpes, she doesn't. She can probably help educate you! Also, would you sleep with her if you didn't know? At least she is honest enough to inform you so that you can make an informed choice!

elm:p

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regret

or you could leave her and take the chance with your next partner that you may get it and she wontknow she has it??? but in the mean time youthrew away a great realtionship with the other... why dont you go get tested to see if you already have it?? many people do and they dont know .. then thier wouldnt be a problem if she has it.. unless you can accept her let her go she deserves someone that loves her completely..someone else will appreciate what she has to offer and wont care if she has it..

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RealisticGal

Hi Snicky!

(ELM!!! I've missed you here lately!)

As Elm said, I do not have herpes.

I am affected by herpes in that I am in a (newly) intimate relationship with a wonderful manfriend who has it.

I was lucky, as you are, because my guy knew he had it. He is honest and caring, so he told me of his status. That allowed me to make an informed decision about whether or not to be intimate with him.

You are faced with that same choice, and I know it isn't real simple.

I have it a little easier in a way, because I know that my guy has herpes in his genital area. Since your gal friend has never had an outbreak, you don't know that for sure. Really, the chances are much greater that she does have HSV2 in the genital area, but there is a small possibility of getting it orally.

Have you been tested yet yourself? I would strongly suggest getting a baseline type specific blood test so you know where you stand at this point. Did you know that about 80% of the North American population has HSV1 by the time they are past their teens? Most of them are not aware of it, either.

After I researched and educated myself about herpes, I went and got baseline testing. I actually was firmly convinced I would show up positive for at least HSV1, and probably HSV2 as well.

Hey, I came of age in the Seventies, when HIV wasn't even peeking over the horizon yet. We had no idea about herpes. It was not ever mentioned. All they talked about in so-called sex-ed classes was syphilis and gonorrhea, which they mostly referred to euphemistically as "VD" while showing us little cartoons of germs.

Anyway, after my friend told me his status I submerged myself in research (as he knew I would). I was fortunate to find this great site, where I have learned so much from real people dealing with herpes every day. I've read of folks who have mild to no symptoms and only have to deal with the associated stigma, along with some horror stories of painful, debilitating outbreaks. As a woman, I had to take those to heart, since we tend to have a worse time with herpes than men. I've read posts from folks struggling with the decision of "to tell or not to tell." That one isn't even a question for me. I've seen folks say they will never have sex again ---- that it isn't worth the stress of telling or possibly transmitting the virus ---- which is a pretty common reaction among those newly diagnosed. I've read stories from folks so upset they have considered suicide. And I've read many stories of folks with happy relationships, fulfilling sex lives, etc.

Of course I've read the statistics --- 1 - 4% annual transmission rates if you take a few precautions.

Those are somewhat comforting, but I came to the conclusion that I had to be able to accept the potential of being in that 1 - 4% who get it, not the 96% or so who don't. There is always that possibility. There is no such thing as safe when it comes to herpes because of viral shedding from areas not covered by condoms. So I decided I had to be able to either deal with that potential consequence or walk away from the possibility of intimacy with my friend.

I did not walk away.

My friend is wonderful and he is in no way defined by herpes. It is just a little bug that grabbed him, as it does so many humans. The good thing is, I know his status. Anyone else out there in PotentialPartnerLand...I don't know about. They could have herpes and not know it. Or they could have it and not tell. Because my lovely manfriend told me, not only do I know his status, I also know more about his character.

So, after he told me, I researched. Then we talked about it a bit. And a bit more. And some more after that. It took a while, several months, for him to become comfortable enough with my stand on the matter before we crossed the intimacy bridge (quite recently).

I will tell you this. He is not taking anti-virals at this point. He might or might not in the future. That is still a debated issue.

Oh! And frankly I am very into oral, which presented an issue regarding condoms. I would rather chew on a raw octopus than wrap my lips around a condom-clad penis! So I considered the odds of acquiring HSV2 orally. It is believed to be the least likely scenario, but not impossible, especially given that I have no antibodies for either strain. But I decided it was worth the risk and have given my friend oral attention without any wrappers.

The mind is an amazing thing. The very day after that first time, I felt all sorts of tingling and itching and a "full" sensation above my upper lip. That continued off and on for a couple of days. But no, I never got a sore.

I've not experienced those sensations again, though I've done plenty more oral stuff since then. It really was, most likely, "all in my head." I mention this as it is likely you might go through something similar if you decide to get active with your lady friend.

Okay, to specifically address some of your questions:

How long has your gal had herpes? As time goes on, viral shedding is believed to lessen. That would mean your chances of getting it from her decrease with time.

Also, is she on anti-viral meds? That also takes the risk to a lower level.

Not really sure about the condom and boxer short question. Theoretically, fluids could carry viral particles through the cloth and into contact with your skin. Also, there would definitely be some possibility of a gap between shorts and rubber. But it would make it a lower chance, I'd think. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be in your gal's place if you feel it is necessary to wrap yourself up in a Hazmat suit like the Bubble Boy to have sex with her. Frankly, I would be a bit offended by that. But maybe your gal wouldn't. Please be sure to discuss that with her first. Heck, maybe she would be okay with you wearing this little outfit:

http://latexboxers.com/product.html

Different strokes for different folks.

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Denise 07

I think it took alot of courage for her to tell you that she is hsv-2 +! Since she has never had an outbreak she could have kept it to herself but she must have real feelings for you so she wanted to protect you and know the risks. I also say why not go and get tested yourself and see if you have hsv yourself. Oral hsv-1 happens to be 80% if not more in the US population and not everyone knows they have it because they don't have any symptoms. I didn't know that I had genital hsv-1 until I had my first outbreak last Novemeber and I've been married for 14 yrs and with my man for 21 yrs all together. He tested + for hsv-1 via blood test but has never had any outbreaks. He and another guy I was with when I was a teenager were the only two that have ever gone down on me so I don't know for sure if my husband did give it to me or not. Anyway, it can lay dormant for a long time so you could have the oral kind and not know it. So if that's the case there's still a chance you can get hsv-2 but if you take precautions than you should be okay. I'd see if she is on any antivirals like valtrex, or acyclovir. I would also use condoms unless you are willing to risk it. If you really have feelings for this woman than I would try to get as much info about hsv as you can to help you learn more about this virus and how common it is. I wouldn't throw away a relationship just because she has hsv-2. If I knew back in the day that when my husband I started to have sex if he had hsv-1 I wouldn't let that get in the way of being in love. I would still have chosen to be his wife and have his two children!

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MsLucy

Snicky, you have one question to answer to yourself... is my fear of herpes greater than my fear of losing her?

Many years ago, my best friend and I realized that our friendship had evolved into something much more. I knew he had herpes, as I had witnessed his discomfort during outbreaks, so I knew I would be at risk. It has always been my philosophy to love with abandon, so I threw myself into the relationship entirely. We used no protection, except to abstain when he had an obvious outbreak. It took several years, but eventually, I started having outbreaks, too, and was diagnosed with type 2 genital herpes. Oddly enough, at first it was a shock, even though I'd known all along I was at risk every time we were intimate. The shock lasted about 3 days, and I have not looked back since to question whether I did the right or wrong thing.

My friend and I are still lovers (going on 10 years now), and I wouldn't change anything. Although my obs were fairly frequent at first, I only get one every few months now, and they're not very long or severe. And since we both have it, it doesn't interfere at all with our physical relationship (which by the way is fantastic... for those of you who think H makes you unattractive sexually - just not so!)

The very worst thing you can do, Snicky, is enter into this relationship unless you're SURE that the virus isn't going to haunt you. It's sooooo unfair and degrading to make someone feel like they're contaminated by wearing boxer shorts some other ridiculous get-up during sex. You may as well just put on a haz-mat suit and be done with it.

My philosophy is, if you enter into a long term relationship with someone who has H, you may as well assume that at some point you'll also have it. Maybe you won't, but at least if it happens, there will be no regrets, no guilt slinging, and no hard feelings. If you can't do that, pass her by, and let her find someone who will.

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snicky

Just to let you all know, I have taken your advice to heart, thrown caution to the wind, and entered into a fully sexual relationship with her -- no hazmat suit :rolleyes:. I feel much better about things, having embraced the idea of taking the risk that was necessary to have a normal relationship with my girlfriend. Life is full of risks, and if we are not willing to take them on, we inevitably sacrifice many opportunities to experience and share some of the best things in life -- love being a prominent example. Whether I will feel the same way if I were to find that I have in fact contracted herpes remains to be seen. I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Whether I would be able to tell her if that were to be the case is also in question. I would hate for her to feel any kind of unnecessary guilt for something that was completely my decision -- not to mention the fact that, for all I know, I may have already had it. And, of course, how I would feel about it down the road if (God forbid) we were to break up and I were to pass it on to someone else is another sticky issue in the back of my mind. But I am of course getting way ahead of myself in thinking about these things, and I should just be living in the moment and not worry, right? Thanks for all of your kind words and advice.

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MsLucy

I'm happy for you, Snicky. Some things, like love, are worth just about any risk. I hope your story has a fairytale ending... 'and they lived happily ever after.'

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Shayna

Awesome news Snicky! I wish you both much happiness!!!

and MsLucy, Love reading your posts, as always!! You're the bomb!!!

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Firehorsewoman
Just to let you all know, I have taken your advice to heart, thrown caution to the wind, and entered into a fully sexual relationship with her -- no hazmat suit :rolleyes:. I feel much better about things, having embraced the idea of taking the risk that was necessary to have a normal relationship with my girlfriend. Life is full of risks, and if we are not willing to take them on, we inevitably sacrifice many opportunities to experience and share some of the best things in life -- love being a prominent example. Whether I will feel the same way if I were to find that I have in fact contracted herpes remains to be seen. I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Whether I would be able to tell her if that were to be the case is also in question. I would hate for her to feel any kind of unnecessary guilt for something that was completely my decision -- not to mention the fact that, for all I know, I may have already had it. And, of course, how I would feel about it down the road if (God forbid) we were to break up and I were to pass it on to someone else is another sticky issue in the back of my mind. But I am of course getting way ahead of myself in thinking about these things, and I should just be living in the moment and not worry, right? Thanks for all of your kind words and advice.

Snicky, this is so uplifting. I am late to the party...just reading the thread today. I read the title and thought, "Oh, No!" Not to worry, as expected, great advice from the awesome folks on this site.

Thanks for letting us know how you decided to handle this new relationship. I am thrilled to hear that you put away the Hazmat suit idea! Not only am I happy for you but, it gives me hope as I embark upon my new life.

I just want to add that many of the posts you read from those of us in pain are horrible snapshots. The "this is no big deal" posts are as valid as the "this sucks worse than anything" posts. Still, they are all just snapshots. For me, my most dark and painful posts were a way of venting all of the pain I had to hold inside all day. One of the most awesome things about this place is finding people who understand and are truly supportive.

Good luck and thanks again for sharing.

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RealisticGal
Just to let you all know, I have taken your advice to heart, thrown caution to the wind, and entered into a fully sexual relationship with her -- no hazmat suit :rolleyes:. I feel much better about things, having embraced the idea of taking the risk that was necessary to have a normal relationship with my girlfriend. Life is full of risks, and if we are not willing to take them on, we inevitably sacrifice many opportunities to experience and share some of the best things in life -- love being a prominent example. Whether I will feel the same way if I were to find that I have in fact contracted herpes remains to be seen. I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Whether I would be able to tell her if that were to be the case is also in question. I would hate for her to feel any kind of unnecessary guilt for something that was completely my decision -- not to mention the fact that, for all I know, I may have already had it. And, of course, how I would feel about it down the road if (God forbid) we were to break up and I were to pass it on to someone else is another sticky issue in the back of my mind. But I am of course getting way ahead of myself in thinking about these things, and I should just be living in the moment and not worry, right? Thanks for all of your kind words and advice.

Bravo to you, and welcome to the little sub-club that you and I and a few others belong to here. :flowers:

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Denise 07

Great news Snicky! I'm thrilled that you decided to just go with it and throw caution to the wind :) Like you said life if full of risks so you should just enjoy every minute and not waste it on worrying. Good Luck to you and your girl!

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snicky

Bravo to you, and welcome to the little sub-club that you and I and a few others belong to here. :flowers:

Thanks, RealisticGal and everyone who responded to my post, for your kind and encouraging words. What is this sub-club? People who have accepted the risk and moved forward with their relationships anyway, I guess? If so, I feel honored. ;) Nevertheless, I don't like to rain on the party, but I can't help but wonder how people in this group would feel if their relationship ends and they are left not wanting to risk spreading it to someone else, feeling ostracized, etc. I guess that's the situation my girlfriend was in before she met me! :( I can really sympathize with her situation now. You know, I wonder also if there is a blessing-in-disguise aspect to all this in terms of the way being honest with potential partners might tend to "weed out" people who aren't serious or are just looking to play games. I guess if you are completely selfish in a relationship, you would get out right away if your potential partner told you they had herpes, right? Huh.... what do you all think about my random musings (sorry to ramble)?

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RealisticGal

Yep, that's the club in question, snicky. We are the negative partners in serodiscordant relationships. We really should have our own little area here in the forums, don't you think? After all, we have unique concerns and viewpoints. Hmmmmm...

All of your musings are things folks here have discussed before. I can't remember who it is, but someone here calls herpes a "jerk weeder," or something like that.

I will say that if a person jumps ship as soon as they learn about a potential partner having herpes, it might just be because of fear due to lack of education. The stigma is powerful and ignorance keeps it strong.

That said, my feelings for my friend did not change when he told me his news. I took the time to educate myself about herpes, which allowed me to make a decision about intimacy. But I wouldn't have felt any different about him, regardless.

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DiGiacomo

I'm in the same situation.

I always knew I have HSV-1 oral since I was a child. My mom always told me I had cold sores when I was a child but I can't remember. I have pictures of my 3rd birthday and a big cold sore on my upper lip on that pictures. I never get tested and my first (and only after childhood) outbreak was on my early 20's. When the cold sore started I was very familiar with that sore cause my mom and my brother always had lots of cold sores. My mom always suffered a lot with very painful outbreaks and she used to have fever when she had them.

I feel very lucky for not having outbreaks cause the only one I can remember was very painful. I felt pain 24/7 and it lasted for over 2 weeks. I felt like my lip was burning and the tingling sensation would never stop. After the blisters I got a thick scab. I felt embarassed with everyone looking at me and asking what was that. I wish I could stay in my house until it healed completely but I had to go to work and college. After that I never had any other outbreak. I never took any medicine but one person told me that if I use zovirax cream when I first notice the signs it would prevent the outbreak. (I'm brazilian and in Brazil you can buy all kinds of herpes meds with no prescription).

This is year I met a wonderful guy and we started dating in august. We always had protected sex every weekend when we saw each other (he always wore a condom). Two months after we started having sex on the first weekend we didn't see each other he told me he got what he thought was a rash on his balls for wearing a thermal underwear with tight jeans. The problem was that with time the sore wasn't getting any better and instead it was getting worse. He told me he was thinking it could be genital herpes. I knew nothing about genital herpes and he told me it was best for us to not have sex until he had the sore cause the sore could touch my genital area and I could get it. He said he never had anything like that on his balls but he said he had on his penis something like a rash many years ago, but he thought it was a sore from having too much sex or too much masturbation. The next 2 weekends we had sex (protected) cause he said it was healed. Then I did some research on-line about it and that was when I found ou that a condom wasn't enough with he has genital herpes. I read that a condom just proctects you 50% when it comes to genital herpes and I got very scared about it. I told him we shouldn't have sex until we get tested and he agreed.

The next weekend (a month after the outbreak on his balls) he had a bump on his penis, with one blister and later a scab. It has been 2 weeks and he still has it. We haven't had sex since a week of his second sore. The only sexual contact we have is him going down on me.

He can't get tested now cause he doesn't have money right now. We found places that costs 90 dollars for blood tests and neither both of us can afford right now. Unfortunately he couldn't afford getting a swab now that he has the sore. He started a new job and he will get blood tested soon. Until he didn't we aren't having sex.

I'm very scared and nervous with all this situation. If he has genital herpes, that doesn't change my love for him. He is a wonderful man and I'm so in love with him. I don't want to loose him but I'm terrified of getting it. I terrified of having the pain I had on my cold sores down there. It also makes me sad having to be in a relationship and have to have him wearing a condom forever and even with this I still have 50% chance of getting it. The numbers are very high. I read that he can be in supressive therapy (Valtrex) and this would help more 40% avoiding transmission.

I've been reading a lot about it and I'm happy I've learned so much. Knowledge is power.

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