Can You Transmit Oral Herpes By Giving Someone Oral Sex?

Hi Heather,

So the other day I noticed that I had a small bump on my upper lip, but I didn’t think much of it because I have really bad acne and the occasional pimple shows up near my lip. Later that same day, my boyfriend came over. Things started out innocently enough, but then… we’re in college, so what do you think happened? Anyways, one thing lead to another, and we both ended up going down on each other. The next day when I woke up, I realized the bump was actually a cold sore. I know that cold sores are most commonly caused by HVS-1 herpes, and I’ve been getting cold sores once in a while forever. Does this mean I gave my boyfriend herpes? Please help because I would like to tell him in case I did.


Despite the fact that herpes is incredibly common, it still has an embarrassing stigma surrounding it that can lead to a lot of wrong information or silly myths. This is why people are constantly asking questions like these – because we’re not being taught about it enough. So, can you transmit oral herpes to someone else via oral sex? For this question, I wanted to bring in a professional to give you the best answer possible. So, naturally, I went to my friend  Dr. Sherry Ross from the site HelloFlo (a monthly period care package you need to check out) to fill us in on all things herpes.

Dr. Sherry Ross first stresses to make sure what you have is actually a herpes cold sore. She said, “It definitely can be confusing telling the difference between a pimple near your lip versus Herpes Type 1. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and assume it’s herpes… especially if you have a history of getting cold sores. Cold sores on your lips and canker sores in the mouth are both different types of Herpes Type 1. Stress, fever, colds, illness, sunburns and even your period can trigger Herpes Type 1 to erupt.” And, if you want to be legit, go to a doctor!

Okay, but how do you pass your cold sores onto someone else? Dr. Ross said, “If you feel a tingling or itching sensation on your lip, that could be the first sign a cold sore may be developing – and even if it’s not visible, you become contagious to anyone you’re in contact with. This means that you can pass Herpes Type 1 to your partner through kissing and oral sex. So, if you have a cold sore on your lip (HSV Type 1) and you give your partner oral sex, you can pass Type 1 to the genital area. It’s really important to remember that oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals during oral sex.” Some people think the opposite, because they think it’s two different things – it’s not. 

By now, you might be freaking out. Breathe, calm down, keep reading! Dr. Ross said, “If you have exposed your partner to Herpes Type 1, it may take up to 20 days for the sores to show up, so it will take a while for anyone to notice anything.” Still, you need to say something. And honestly, it’s not that big of a deal! Not only is herpes incredibly common (it’s been estimated that more than 80 percent of the population is infected), it’s also treatable (although obviously not curable). Dr. Ross points out that “There are medications used to prevent Herpes Type 1 from occurring and can also be used when outbreaks happen.”

She also issues a suggestion: “Make it part of your dating routine to talk to your partner about their past history of any sexually transmitted infections prior to having any sexual contact with them, even kissing. Asking whether or not they have cold sores or canker sores should also be included in the conversation.”

take care,

What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at You can also reach our buddies at HelloFlo with questions about your body or health. Just ask Dr. Flo at HelloFlo!


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