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Can I catch herpes from a blowjob?

I've just started having sex with my girlfriend. I'm just wondering, if she gives me head and neither of us has any sexual infections, is it possible for me to get herpes? I'm really worrying about it can you put my mind at rest?
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Herpes can be spread by having oral sex with someone who has active cold sores on their mouth, or genital sores. Therefore, even if both partners have no STIs, herpes can be spread to the genital area if someone has the virus around the mouth.

During an episode of herpes, the blisters and sores are highly infectious and the virus can be passed on to others by direct contact. It is possible to have herpes without any sores being present, and there’s a risk that the virus can be passed on even when you can’t see the sores. This is why good communication and trust is important between two people involved in a sexual relationship. If you, or your girlfriend, are worried that you might have an infection, the best thing to do is get tested to put your mind at rest.

There are two types of the herpes virus. Herpes simplex virus type I commonly causes cold sores around the mouth and nose. It can also affect the eyes, genitals and anal areas. Herpes simplex virus type II is usually responsible for sores in the genital and anal region but may also affect the mouth and eyes.

It’s natural to have some worries when you first start having sex, and it’s great that you are concerned about your sexual health. The best way to ease your worries and reduce the risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is to always practise safe sex, using a condom for sexual intercourse and for oral sex. If you are giving your girlfriend oral sex, you can also use dental dams (thin squares of latex) as a barrier during sex involving contact between the mouth and the vagina, or the mouth and the anus.

You can get advice and testing at a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. Services are attached to or within local hospitals, and are usually separate, discreet departments. GUM consultations are free and confidential, which means that no one will be told about your visit, unless you want them to be. Before being tested it is usual to see a health advisor who will discuss any concerns, and reassure you about what the tests will involve.

It may be useful to visit your local Brook Centre and have a chat with a counsellor or see a doctor there. Under 25s can talk to someone at Brook in confidence about anything to do with sex and relationships. Alternatively, you can call the Brook Freephone Helpline on 0808 802 1234.

Answered by Brook on 19-May-2013

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