Good news – ESSENCE’s “Ask An OB-GYN” series is back to bring you very public answers to some of your most private questions. When sexual and vaginal health concerns arise, renowned Obstetrics and Gynecology physician Dr. Tosha Rogers wants to ensure you have the answers you need to feel at ease. If you have a sexual health concern or question you want to swing her way, we’ve got you covered.  Email [email protected] with “Ask An OB-GYN” in the subject line and ask away!

Q: I just found out the guy I’m seeing has herpes and we want to be intimate. Are condoms enough to protect me?

A: Herpes is a virus of the skin only. It carries such a stigma because it’s the genital skin and the virus does not go away. For starters, when getting STD testing, you must always specify that you want to be tested for herpes. Unfortunately, when you tell your medical provider “test me for everything,” herpes is usually not on the list. So now your partner has it. Are you certain you were tested for it also?

Herpes is passed by sexual contact, not intercourse. That means there does not need to be penetration for you to contract herpes. Whenever his genitals touch your genitals, you are at risk. If your partner is not having an outbreak, the risk of transmission is only 5%. Most males have outbreaks on the “inside” of the penis and not the outside where it’s visible. So to answer the question, condoms will not completely protect you from contracting herpes. I would recommend not having sex if your partner feels an outbreak, using condoms at all times-including foreplay, and having your partner take Valtrex daily to decrease the risk of transmission.

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