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Home Ask the Experts Ask the Experts My partner thinks I cheated--help!

My partner thinks I cheated--help!

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I have been married to the same man for 14 years, and have always been faithful. He was recently diagnosed with genital herpes. He says his doctor told him that the only way he could’ve contracted this is through sex and he is convinced that I MUST have cheated. Not true! I have found information from different websites that says it may be possible to get HSV-2 from HSV-1, through oral sex. We have both had some pretty severe mouth sores over the years, so it’s possible isn’t it? Please help with some information!

We’re sorry to hear about the situation you have been dealing with recently. The importance of obtaining reliable information cannot be overstated. You are taking an important step by educating yourself and sharing information with your husband as well.

It is true that genital herpes is contracted from some type of sexual activity, but it is incorrect for anyone to imply that it has to be the result of infidelity. It can be from oral sex from the current partner, as you point out. It can also be from a result of sexual activity from another partner many years ago prior to a relationship. The thinking that someone must have been unfaithful is, unfortunately, a common misconception. Many individuals in long-term, monogamous relationships are often diagnosed with herpes and naturally wonder where it came from. That feeling of uncertainty is natural in even the best relationships. But that’s where education plays a key role. Through, though, many learn that a herpes diagnosis does not mean a partner has gone outside the relationship.

We do not mean to imply that infidelity doesn’t occur in relationships. Of course it sometimes does. In terms of the various possibilities, one is that your husband was unfaithful and contracted the virus. But to reiterate the points above, his herpes diagnosis doesn’t mean he has to have been with someone else. It appears that you realize that, but it’s important for him to realize the same is true for you.

Again, one possibility is that either you or your husband had the virus prior to the marriage/relationship. A person can contract the virus and not realize it until many years later. As you likely know through your research, it is estimated that about 1 in 5 sexually active adults in the U.S. have genital herpes and as many as 90% don’t know it.

With regard to the types, it was unclear if your husband has been diagnosed with HSV-2 or HSV-1, or if he was simply told he had genital herpes. Genital herpes can be caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2. While the majority of genital herpes cases are caused by HSV-2 and the majority of oral cases are caused by HSV-1, either type can be contracted in the genital area. If your husband did contract genital herpes through oral sex, it would likely be HSV-1. The HSV type wouldn’t change-whether it’s HSV-1 or HSV-2, if it’s in the genital region, it’s called genital herpes. So to rephrase your question, it is possible to get genital herpes, caused by HSV-1, through oral sex.

It would be useful for your husband to know if he has HSV-1 or 2, as the rate of outbreaks is different. You should be tested as well to see if you are at risk. We hope this information has been helpful and encourage you to share it with your husband. Best of luck.


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