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TheGermDoctor, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  17 years as a physician, Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases
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My partner and I both have genital herpes. is it safe to

Resolved Question:

my partner and I both have genital herpes. is it safe to have sex if one of us has an outbreak? or should we wait until it is gone. is it possibel for us to keep passing it back and forth and having outbreaks like the first time. he has an outbreak at the base of the penis so if we had sex without a condom could the head of the penis now be vulnerable to a first time outbreak or is it once he has had an outbreak, he could get it anywhere down there. we are getting older and having children isn't an issue, but we just need to know if we can have sex while one of us is having an outbreak.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  TheGermDoctor replied 6 years ago.

Hello pennelopi-

If you both have genital herpes, presumably HSV-2, then you cannot "pass it back and forth".

Once you are infected, you are infected forever- the virus goes into a latent phase in the nerve roots between outbreaks, but you are not clear of the infection- and it certainly is at risk of causing further intermittent outbreaks. Some people get rare outbreaks, some get frequent outbreaks- like even every month. But exposure to your partner will not affect the frequency of such outbreaks.

It may be painful to have sex during an outbreak- but it will not affect the risk of new attacks- since you are already infected.

( Of course I am assuming you both have the same virus- HSV-2 most likely. This is a pretty good assumption if you are sexually active- but a blood test for antibodies can actually confirm that you have the same strain. If by some unlikely chance one of you has only HSV1 and the other only HSV2 , then there would be some risk of transmission- but the likelihood of this situation seems low.)

Good luck.

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Expert:  TheGermDoctor replied 6 years ago.
if he already has HSV on the 'base" of the penis, sex would not put him at risk of developing new lesions on the head of the penis. The immune system prevents a new infection at a different site with the same strain.
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