Thanks for writing.
Herpes is most easily passed when you have an outbreak. If your outbreak is healed and you haven’t had more outbreaks recently, then the chance of passing it is low. Also, 90% of Canadians will get herpes Type 1 in their lifetime, and you can’t pass the virus to anyone who already has it. So, overall the chance of passing the virus to someone is very small.
If you want to make sure you don’t pass the virus, it depends where on your body it is:
• On Mouth: Type 1 is most commonly seen on the mouth/lips and is only passed through contact with your mouth (for example kissing or giving oral sex). If your outbreak was only on your mouth then you do not need to worry about passing it through other kinds of sex. If it’s on your mouth and you want to give oral sex to a woman you can use dental dams as a barrier.
• On Genitals: If your outbreak was on your genitals then it’s possible to pass the virus if your gentials touch another person’s genitals. You can use condoms for vaginal sex to reduce the chance of passing the virus.
If you want to talk to her about it you can start by asking if she has ever had cold sores. Cold sores is the common term for herpes Type 1. If she has ever had cold sores before (even only when she was a child) then she will be protected against herpes and you don’t need to worry about passing it.
If she’s never had cold sores before, there is still a chance she will be protected against it as many people have Type 1 and don’t know it. You can tell her that herpes is a benign skin infection and that herpes is not dandgerous. You can also look at this Herpes Guide for more ideas about talking to partners. Page 16 of the Guide talks about “Herpes and Dating”.
Please let us know if you need any additional information.