Genital herpes transmission

Updated on:
August 10, 2021

For oral sex on the penis

Performing oral sex on a penis infected with genital herpes can transmit the infection to your mouth/throat.

Receiving oral sex on the penis from a partner with an oral herpes infection in their mouth/throat can result in genital herpes infection of the penis.

Decrease the risk of transmission and exposure during penile oral sex by covering the penis with a latex condom (use plastic, i.e. polyurethane condoms if you or your partner are allergic to latex.

For oral sex on the vagina:

Performing oral sex on a partner with a genital herpes infection of the vagina can result in oral herpes infection of your throat/mouth.

Receiving oral sex on the vagina from a partner with an oral herpes infection of the mouth/throat can result in getting a genital herpes infection of the vagina or rectum.

For oral sex on the anus:

Giving oral sex to a partner with a genital herpes infection in the rectum can result in getting oral herpes in your throat/mouth.

Receiving oral sex on the anus from a partner with an oral herpes infection of the mouth/throat can result in getting a genital herpes infection of the rectum.

To decrease the risk of transmission and exposure during vaginal and rectal oral sex:

  • Use a dental dam (cut open a non-lubricated condom to make a square barrier and place it between the vagina or anus and mouth)

Vaginal Sex:

Having penis-to-vagina penetrative sex with a partner who has a genital herpes infection of the vagina can result in getting a genital herpes infection of the penis.

Receiving penis-to-vagina penetrative vaginal sex from a partner with a genital herpes infection of the penis can result in getting a genital herpes infection of the vagina.

Fingering the vagina may transmit genital herpes if the recipient has a genital herpes infection of the vagina. When infected bodily fluids or herpetic lesions come into contact with the hand, this can then transmit the infection to mucous membranes. The hand then comes into contact with (i.e. genitals, mouth/throat, eyes, rectum).

Anal Sex:

Having penis-to-anus penetrative anal sex with a partner who has a genital herpes infection of the rectum can result in getting a genital herpes infection of the penis.

Receiving penis-to-anus penetrative anal sex from a partner with a genital herpes infection of the penis can result in getting a genital herpes infection of the rectum.

Fingering of the rectum may transmit genital herpes if the recipient has a herpes infection of the rectum. When infected bodily fluids or herpetic lesions come into contact with the hand, this can then transmit the infection to mucous membranes. The hand then comes into contact with (i.e. genitals, mouth/throat, eyes, rectum).

Use of sex toys:

Sharing of sex toys, especially if infected fluids or herpetic lesions come into contact with the toy, can result in genital herpes transmission.

If you think you may have been exposed to genital herpes, check out our next article outlining the steps needed to test, and treat this STI. [CTA]

Reviewed by:
Dr. Caley Shukalek

Caley is passionate about evidence-based, patient-centred care, including telemedicine that can provide high quality care from wherever a patient may choose.

He helped create Alberta's PrEP guidelines and works as a specialist in General Internal Medicine with additional training in sexual health, including HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

He holds an Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MD from the University of Calgary and an MSc from the University of Alberta.