The cold sore and genital herpes virus is extremely contagious and is generally spread by skin-to-skin contact. There is a risk of the virus spreading when the first signs of tingling or itching begin (prodrome), as well as when no sores or blisters are visible.
Some couples have reported no transmission of the virus even though they have been in a sexual relationship for many years. This is put down to restraint during outbreaks or very particular avoidance of the blisters during sex.
If you care about your partner and want to have an intimate relationship with her or him, herpes does not have to stand in the way. Couples deal successfully with herpes all the time. In most cases, it is only a minor inconvenience.
Herpes often brings about some changes in a couple’s sex life, such as abstaining from sex during outbreaks. For most people with herpes, this occurs only a few times a year. Ask your partner how often he or she has outbreaks so you’ll have some idea of what to expect.
Between outbreaks, you may wish to use condoms to reduce the risk of infection.
Condoms offer the best protection against other STDs and STIs as well, which is important in a new relationship. Since herpes does not pose a serious health risk, some couples choose not to use condoms in a long-term relationship.
Condoms should definitely be used if engaging in causal sex but they are not always 100% protection. Also, new wool condoms have a woven texture through which this incredibly small virus can migrate.