This week Dr Nitin Shori answers a question from a reader who is concerned that they might pass on herpes, even though the outbreak has cleared up.

I have genital herpes and it's cleared up... Can I have unprotected sex?

Dear Doctor
I was diagnosed with genital herpes 1, 6 months ago and have recently started to use Valtrex treatment. Is it possible to have unprotected sex with someone not infected? Or is there still a chance they can contract it even if there are no outbreaks?

Thank you


Once you have been infected with the herpes simplex virus, it will remain in your body and can lead to occasional outbreaks.

Unfortunately, it is possible for you to pass the virus that causes genital herpes to a sexual partner at any time – even if you are not experiencing an outbreak and have no symptoms.

Transmission is even more likely during an outbreak. Condoms are proven to reduce transmission.

Even if you do not have symptoms, people at risk of passing on herpes should always use an effective barrier method of practising safe sex, such as a condom or dental dam. The same virus causes cold sores and genital herpes and can be passed from one area of the body to the other during oral sex if protection is not used.

ALSO READ: Ask the doctor…. Did I catch herpes?

Valtrex helps the body to fight the herpes simplex virus but is not effective in preventing it from being passed from one person to another.

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 The symptoms of a genital herpes episode can include small blisters in the anal or genital area, which burst to leave small red sores which can be painful; pain when urinating; stinging, tingling, or itching in the genital area; and a general feeling of malaise, or a flu-like symptom. Prescription treatments are available that shorten the duration and severity of an outbreak.

Dr Nitin Shori is the Medical Director of the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service,


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The advice listed above is not intended to replace or take the place of that of your own doctor, GP or medical professional who knows your full medical history. If in any doubt make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.