Dear Richard: Cuddling Concerns
About two years ago I contracted genital herpes. I am now seeing someone who knows that I have the virus, but I am very afraid that I will wind up infecting him. I take Valtrex, 500 mg, once a day to lower the likelihood of that happening, but I am still very nervous about his being infected.
The two sores I've had have shown up around my anus. If that is the case, am I still contagious even if he stays away from my anus and we just practice oral sex?
Can I pass the virus on by just spooning when he holds me close from behind? It seems to be passed on just from external skin-to-skin contact. Any other advice or dos and don'ts on how to keep from infecting a partner?
Dear Dick is not a doctor, though he did play one in an '80s porn video called The Doctor Will Spank You Now.
That being said Dick also has the virus as well as the concerns. Dear Dick is also on the 500 mg Valtrex regimen and rarely has breakouts. But where does that leave us?
Late at night when Dick is wondering if it's a headache or brain cancer, he goes to WebMD.com. They seem like the sanest of the medical sites. But because even WebMD.com can't give you the most exact of transmission precautions, the best plan is to make sure that everyone involved has all the info that is available. Here are a few important quotes about herpes from WebMD.com:
• At least 45 million American adults and adolescents have genital herpes -- that's one out of every four to five people, making it one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Since the late 1970s, the number of Americans with genital herpes infection has increased 30%, mostly in teens and young adults.
• Some commonly reported herpes outbreak triggers include: stress, illness, surgery, vigorous sex, diet, monthly period.
• To prevent transmitting genital herpes: Do not have sex when you have an open sore. Always use a latex condom during sex. Taking antiviral medications can reduce the risk of a person with genital herpes from spreading the disease, but that doesn't eliminate the risk. Be sure to practice the measures listed above to decrease risk.
So the bad news is that you can really only limit the risk. The good news is that you are open with your partner about your herpes status. Are you also open with him about the level of your concern? If you are, then taking extra precautions will feel much more natural.
You might feel more safe if when you spoon you keep a pair of underwear on, especially if is after the "vigorous sex" mentioned above, and it's all kind of swampy down there. Dear Dick also takes that precaution.
And because stress is one of the factors, taking extra precautions would probably keep the anxiety down for you. Making sure your partner has all the facts available will help as well. Perhaps having him talk with his doctor about the realities of transmission would be a place to begin.
Sounds like you guys have a great start. Everybody comes with certain issues into a relationship: HIV, herpes, HPV (human papillomavirus), bad credit, an ignorant wife — all these things can be worked through and can often help folks have a much deeper connection.
Dear Richard is not a medical doctor, a licensed psychiatrist, a counselor, a reverend, or a rabbi. He has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and his words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information is for educational purposes only and it not intended to serve as medical advice. Dear Richard does, however, love hearing from you and answering your questions. Leave a comment or send him an e-mail.