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So my boyfriend and I have been dating for a week and a little over a week ago we made out for the first time. So over the weekend I started feeling like shit and BAM yesterday I found herpe blisters all over my upper lip. I think it’s probably from him but I’m not sure because I did share lip balm with a couple other girls. He doesn’t know about it yet, today is Monday and I’m staying home from school but he’s at school. How should I tell him that I think he gave me herpes?? I don’t want to scare him away!!

What you described sounds like what a lot of people experience when they have their first herpes outbreak – flu-like symptoms followed by some sores breaking out on the part of their body that’s infected, usually the mouth or the genitals.

When I say a lot of people, I really mean that. Oral herpes is a super common infection. It’s estimated that up to 80% of the US population has it. So, there’s nothing to be ashamed of here, and when you talk to your boyfriend about it, there’s no reason to cast blame. Neither of you need to feel bad about this.

You started getting sores soon after kissing your boyfriend, so it’s definitely possible you got it from him. But there’s no way to be sure of that. It can take several weeks or sometimes even longer after being exposed to the virus to start having symptoms. Herpes is usually spread by kissing or other types of sexual contact (like oral sex if you have oral herpes, and vaginal or anal sex if you have genital herpes), but brief skin-to-skin contact is all that’s needed to pass the virus. So, you could’ve gotten it from your boyfriend, but you also could’ve gotten it from someone else you’ve kissed in the past, and though it’s a lot less likely, you could’ve also gotten it from sharing that lip balm.

Either way, it’s important to tell him what’s going on. You can tell him the same way you wrote about it here — that you felt sick and then a couple days later you had these sores. You can ask him if he’s ever had sores like that. He probably has. But if not, it’s really important that you guys avoid touching the sores while they’re there, so that means no kissing until the sores go away. Sorry — I know that’s a huge bummer, but it’s the only way to avoid passing it on to him if he doesn’t already have it.

It’s also a good idea to see a doctor or nurse about the sores. There are medications that can reduce the number of times you get sores (which for many people with oral herpes is hardly ever at all) or make sores heal faster. Visit your nearest Planned Parenthood health center for help with oral herpes.

-Emily at Planned Parenthood

Tags: STDs, kissing, herpes