A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

Relationships (18)

I have hsv 1 and 2. Not sure if both are on the genitals since i have never had a cold sore and i never gotten a viral culture done on a sore. I had someone over for the night. I mention to him i didn’t want to have sex but in the morning he tried really hard to turn me on. He wanted to masturbate me so i let him. I am human, he had turn me on even though i told him no a multiple times. I didn’t think any harm would come out of it if he just touched me a little bit. He says he washed his hands a couple of minutes after but i do not know if he touched himself or anywhere in the mean time prior washing his hands. The thing is when i got at work i noticed 2 hours later i had a couple of vesicules forming. I do not know if they were there in the morning or not. It didn’t hurt when he was touching me but it did start to hurt after noticing the sores. I felt like something was going on an hour after this morning accident. What are the chances/ likelyhood that i transmitted my herpes to him? Should i worry? Like i said im not sure what he did prior washing his hands. Might of touch his boxers or his penis. I don’t know.


Thanks for writing.

The short answer is: No, you shouldn’t worry. From the encounter you describe it sounds unlikely you would have passed herpes to your partner.

The longer answer is: Genital herpes is not generally transmitted to hands. Herpes prefers the tissues around the mouth and genitals, and we do not see herpes on transferred to people’s hands.

If your partner touched their genitals to your genitals, or their mouth to you genitals, then herpes can be passed that way. We call that direct skin-to-skin contact. Herpes is not passed through in-direct contact (ie. hands, towels, etc.)

It’s very possible that the touching you received from your partner triggered the vesicles to appear. However, this doesn’t mean that you passed herpes to your partner.

Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge that it can be difficult for many people to navigate sexual consent. It’s great to hear you were communicating with your partner about  your sexual needs, and not wanting to have sex. I’m sorry to hear that there was pressure on you to do more. You are entitled to your own body and your own boundaries. Sometimes pressure to have sex is called “coercive sex”. If you want any more information about these issues, check out these links:

Hope this helps. Please let us know if this answers your question, or if you need any more information.

Health Nurse

My partner let me know that he’s been paying for sensual massage services with a “happy ending”. What is the STI risk?


Thanks for your question.

Sensual massage is low-risk for STIs.

Massage with a “happy ending” can mean different things, but often it means that the person receiving the massage also receives sexual stimulation until they ejaculate (cum). The “happy ending” can be done by hand (“hand job”) or mouth (oral sex or “blow job”).

If the “happy ending” is done by hand, then it is very low-risk for STIs. If the “happy ending” was done by mouth (without a condom), then there is a risk for STIs, including: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes and HPV. A person can have these STIs without having any symptoms, and the only way to know if they have an STI is to get tested. If the “happy ending” is done by mouth with the condom on, then it is very-low risk for STIs.

If you’re able to speak with your partner more about how he receives the “happy ending” you will have more ideas about potential STI risks.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

I just found out my partner has had unprotected sex with other women. I’ve been having troubles with bacterial vaginosis at times. Could this be related? When I found out, I did have STI testing and he did also.


Thanks for writing.

That can be difficult to hear that your partner is having unprotected sex with other people. It’s great that you both got tested after.

In terms of the bacterial vaginosis, it’s unlikely to be affected by your partner’s activities. Bacterial vaginosis is not sexually transmitted, or passed between partners. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria (so it’s not “bad” bacteria), and it’s your own bacteria (so it didn’t come from anyone else).

It’s common for women get bacterial vaginosis whether they are sexually active or not. Many women will get bacterial vaginosis frequently for a few years, and then it can settle down and not come back. Sometimes women who have multiple sexual partners can get bacterial vaginosis more often, as they are being directly exposed to different people’s bacteria. You would not be exposed to other people’s bacteria through your partner (normal bacteria can’t be passed indirectly, only STIs can be passed indirectly).

Lastly, just a reminder than it can take up to 3 months for STIs to show-up in testing. If you only got tested a few weeks after your partner had other partner’s, it would be good to get re-tested after 3 months just to be sure.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

what age can i have sex???


Thanks for writing!

The age at which people have sex is different for every individual.

There are a few different things to consider when answering your question:

  • Youth age 12 can have sex with other youth age 12-14
  • Youth age 13 can have sex with other youth age 13-15
  • Youth age 14 can have sex with other youth age 14-18
  • Youth age 15 can have sex with other youth age 15-19
  • Youth age 16 can have sex with others age 14 or older, so long as their sexual partners are NOT in a position of power over the 16-year old (for example: teachers, coaches, family members, care takers etc.)
  • Youth age 17 can have sex with others age 15 or older, so long as their sexual partners are NOT in a position of power over the 16-year old (for example: teachers, coaches, family members, care takers etc.)
  • Youth age 18 can have sex with others age 15 or older.

However, age is not the only factor when it comes to having sex. Understanding consent and relationships are critical as well!

Check-out these links for more information:

Sex Readiness Checklist

Am I ready for Sex?

Sex and the Internet

Sex and the Law

Lastly, there is no age minimum for masturbation. Exploring what feels good by yourself can be first step to enjoying sex with others.

Hope this answers your questions. Please feel free to submit another question, or leave a comment!

Health Nurse

My boyfriend who I’ve been dating for 5 months gave me genital HSV 1. I’m now scared to let him preform oral sex on me again because I worry it will cause an outbreak. Is it safe for him to preform oral sex on me if we both don’t or haven’t had any outbreaks in awhile? Will it cause one? Thanks


Thanks for writing. HSV can be confusing for lots of people, and it can feel scary too!

If you both have HSV-1, then you cannot pass it to each other.

Once a person has been exposed to HSV-1, their body will create “antibodies” for HSV-1, which will protect that person from getting it again.

So, since you’ve been exposed to HSV-1, he cannot give it to you again. And having more oral sex won’t increase the chance of having another outbreak.

Regarding outbreaks: It’s normal that we see outbreaks after the first time someone is exposed. After that, most people don’t get ongoing outbreaks. If someone does get an outbreak, it has to do with their own immune system and health ( and not becuase they were re-exposed to HSV). When people are healthy their body can keep the virus suppressed (meaning no outbreak), but when someone gets sick they can have outbreaks. 

If both of you have the same stain (HSV-1) you cannot give it to each other again.

You can only give someone HSV-1 if they have never had it. Having oral sex won’t trigger another outbreak.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to submit another question if needed.

Health Nurse

I am married my wife not interest sex how to self sex pls help me


Thanks for writing.

Every person’s desire for sex is different, and it can also change over the course of one’s lifetime. Sex drive can also be affected by health conditions, and stress.

Talking to your wife about her health, mental health, and stress may be a good idea.

In terms of having sex by yourself, there are lots of ways to have pleasure on your own.

As a starting point, have a look at our articles on Masturbation and Alternatives to Intercourse.

Another resource is: Jack In World. They have techniques, Q & A, and forums.

Hope this helps! Please let us know if you need any additional information.

Health Nurse

So my boyfriend has HSV 1 orally and I have genital HSV 1 and I was wondering if we had unprotected sex if it could trigger an outbreak? Or if because he has HSV 1 orally he could not preform oral sex on me any more. My last question is, is there anything we could do to eachother that would accudentally trigger an outbreak that we should look out for?


Thanks for writing.

If you both have HSV-1, then you cannot pass it to each other.

Once a person has been exposed to HSV-1, their body will create “antibodies” for HSV-1, which will protect that person from getting it again.

So, since you are your partner both have the same strain, you are protected from getting it/giving it.

In short: you will not trigger an outbreak, and there is no reason to think you can pass HSV-1 between each other. He can give you oral without worrying about passing HSV-1 to you, or getting HSV-1 from you! We wouldn’t recommend worrying about this or having to “look out for” anything!

Hope this helps. Please feel free to submit another question if needed.

Health Nurse

hello, im a 29 years old male and I want to get tested for HPV because my girlfriend need the proof that im clean to have sex, where can I go to get that kind of test? here in Richmond bc or Vancouver area?


Thanks for writing.

In Canada we do not currently have any routine testing for HPV.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a virus that is passed through skin-to-skin contact. There are hundreds of different strains of HPV, and anyone who has been sexually active will likely carry one or more of these strains. Most of the strains are not dangerous, and most people who carry them won’t develop symptoms.

Some of the strains of HPV can cause genital warts and after being exposed to the virus someone might develop warts on their genitals. These warts are diagnosed as “HPV” by visual assessment by a doctor or nurse, they are not diagnosed through a test. These warts usually go away on their own in 1-2 years, and there is treatment that makes them go away sooner if desired.

Other stains of HPV do not cause genital warts, but they can cause an increased risk for cancer. The strains that can be risky for cancer are always invisible, and you can’t see by looking at person if they have it or not. Women over age 25 are encouraged to go for the 3-year PAP test to check for the pre-cancerous kinds, but no other precautions are recommended.

I am not sure if your girlfriend is concerned about genital warts or cancer, but it might be worth having a look at our HPV information page together. Condoms can certainly reduce the likelihood of passing HPV between partners, but because condoms don’t cover all skin they’re not a 100% guarantee.

Generally when people ask their partner to get tested for STIs they mean: Chalmydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HIV. If you need help finding an STI clinic near you check-out our Clinic Finder.

Hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any more questions.

Health Nurse


I am an older female with both HSV1 (mouth) and HSV2 (genital). I recently started seeing an older man who has had cold sores (and therefore presumably has HSV1), and also definitely has HSV2. I had a cold sore outbreak on my mouth, for which I took Valtrex (1000 mg. 12 hours apart); I did not mention this to him, as I figured the dose would address the issue. About 2 days later, I gave him oral sex, which irritated the remainder of the oral cold sore I had, and caused me to tell him about taking the Valtrex. He is now extremely anxious that I might “give him” some type of herpes, and won’t even kiss me. Given that it seems we are seroconcordant, does he have a reason to be so anxious? It is creating a real dent in my feelings for him, as I feel as if he is treating me as if I am now some kind of untouchable.


Thanks for writing, and sorry to hear about your stressful situation. Herpes can be very frustrating and confusing for a lot of people, however no one should ever be made to feel untouchable.

You’re correct that once someone has been exposed to HSV type 1 or 2 it’s unlikely for them to develop a new infection on a different part of the body. Once someone is exposed to HSV type 1 or 2 they will usually develop antibodies to that type and those antibodies provide good protection from having the same type of HSV being passed to a different part of the body.

The only exception is in the first 4 months after initial exposure. It takes up to 4 months for most people to develop antibodies, and if your partner was only diagnosed with HSV 1 or 2 in the past 4 months he may still be susceptible. However, if he was diagnosed more than 4 months ago, then he will have antibodies that will provide good protection.

One other thing I want to clarify: Have both you and your partner had your HSV 1 and 2 typed? That is, when you were given those diagnoses was it through a swab or blood test? Some people assume that HSV 1 is only on the mouth, and that HSV 2 is only on the genitals, but that is not true. A person can have can have the same type (1 or 2) on both their mouth and genitals, so you can’t just assume that because someone has HSV in two places that they’ve been exposed to both types. It would be good to clarify with your partner… If he just assumes he’s had both HSV 1 and 2 because of the locations of his outbreaks, he could just have type 1 or type 2 in both places (and still be susceptible to the other type).

Lastly I just wanted to say, despite herpes being one of the most common STIs (we estimate that 89% of Canadians have type 1 or 2 or both), we still see lots of stress and confusion around HSV. Unfortunately not everyone has been able to get a good education regarding herpes, and different peoples’ reactions to hearing their partner has herpes can reflect the education the person has gotten (or not gotten) about the virus. You may find that some people are not bothered by herpes at all, whereas other people will need more education. Hopefully you and your partner can find some understanding.

For more in-depth information on HSV take a look at our Patient Guide to Herpes.

Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Hope this helps.

Health Nurse

I am 54 years old and married 36 years. I had an affair 14 years ago (that I have kept secret) and 2 weeks ago had a primary outbreak and diagnosed with hsv type 2. Could I have gotten this virus from that encounter. My husband has never had an std. We no longer have intercourse (he is unable to sustain an erection) and wondering how necessary it would be to tell him about this


It sounds like you had a non-primary outbreak. This means you had herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 2 passed to you in the past, but when this happened you didn’t have any noticeable symptoms. Only years later did you get your first noticeable outbreak.

HSV type 2 is common and could have been passed to you by anyone you have had sex with in the past. This would include your husband, the person you had the affair with or people you had sex with before you were married.

Most people who have HSV do not notice any symptoms and are unaware they have it, but can still pass it to other people. HSV blood tests are not usually done when people go for a STI check. This means you can get HSV from someone who feels fine and has been for a “STI check up”.

It is difficult for me to give specific advice as I don’t know the whole situation. In terms of health risk it’s not necessary to tell your husband about this as you are not having intercourse with him. Though, we suggest it is a good idea to speak with sexual partners about this and can usually be brought up in a general conversation around STI/HIV. If you feel your husband may be supportive you could always explore his HSV status by getting him a blood test. On the other hand, if you feel it may only bring a bad outcome you could leave this information private.

We know this can be a difficult topic to discuss with other people. Always feel free to come here if you want to discuss this topic. We also have some good clinics if you prefer to talk with someone face to face.

Also, have a look at our herpes page for additional resources as we have recently updated it.

Please leave a comment to let us know if this answers your question or if you need more information.

Health Nurse

For other readers, please feel free to leave a comment, or let us know if this was helpful.