Valtrex as a prophylactic?
August 12, 2010 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Is it reasonable to keep a supply of Valtrex around to take after protected casual sex to prevent herpes?

I'm recently out of a relationship and have been having occasional protected casual sex. I am terrified of herpes as it can be transmitted even with a condom. I've seen some reports on the Internets that if valtrex is taken directly after exposure it can prevent herpes from getting a foot hold.

So, is there any reason why I shouldn't get a prescription and take a few of them in the days following protected sex with an untested partner?

I'm interested in any relevant medical literature, anti viral alternatives, etc.

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I believe this Wiki blurb is what you're looking for.

And far be it from me to endorse less-safe sex of any kind, but if your partner has no obvious genital lesions and YOU have no obvious genital lesions and that condom is on for EVERY SECOND of genital-genital contact, the chances of obtaining most STDs (including herpes) are QUITE slim. I wouldn't worry yourself to death over this.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:18 AM on August 12, 2010


Valtrex does not prevent infection. Valtrex treats the symptoms of infected people by short-circuiting the lifecycle of the virus, which reduces lesion outbreaks and shedding. It does not prevent initial infection.

The reports you've read probably refer to symptom management and not initial infection. Read them closely.
posted by sidereal at 7:22 AM on August 12, 2010

Took me a moment to dig this up out of my brain. In the swingin' 70s, I saw one of those hippie nutrition books tout BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), a common food additive, as a herpes treatment and preventative, with the explanation that nobody would back the research for this effect because it was just a dirt-common food additive, similar to the way it look way, way too long for lithium to break into the market as a mood stabilizer, because, hey, pretty hard to patent an element.

So, I doubt anyone has done any studies on it, but you can go look.
posted by adipocere at 7:52 AM on August 12, 2010

Actually, there are several studies that show that valtrex can reduce transmission risk. A pubmed search will reveal several others.
posted by pahool at 9:07 AM on August 12, 2010

A pubmed search on "BHT herpres" reveals a few studies in the 80's that show some promise, but nothing current. There are also concerns that long term use could cause damage, and that an effective dose is not sufficiently less than a potentially lethal dose to support sustained usage.
posted by pahool at 9:20 AM on August 12, 2010

Actually, there are several studies that show that valtrex can reduce transmission risk. A pubmed search will reveal several others.

Just to be clear -- those studies are talking about how valtrex reduces transmission when it is taken by the person who already has herpes That is not what the OP is talking about.
posted by Dolukhanova at 9:46 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, there are several studies that show that valtrex can reduce transmission risk.

Yes, but those studies are about people who carry the virus taking Valtrex to reduce transmission to others, not people who don't have the virus taking Valtrex to prevent transmission to themselves from others.
posted by ssg at 9:49 AM on August 12, 2010

Sorry, my bad. I misread. But hey, maybe slip it into their drink beforehand? ;)
posted by pahool at 10:00 AM on August 12, 2010

BTW, of course that was not meant seriously. Not only would giving someone a drug without their knowledge be extremely unethical, it would also be ineffective as a single dose of Valtrex wouldn't have an immediate effect on transmission. julthumbscrew above probably has the best advice. And having a conversation about it with your partner beforehand is a good strategy as well. If they can't handle the conversation, f**k 'em! Or, rather, don't...
posted by pahool at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2010

Talk to your doctor. Who should say No. Use condom & spermicide to reduce the risk of disease transmission.
posted by theora55 at 10:18 AM on August 12, 2010

For the record, spermicides do not protect against STDs and can cause side affects (irritation and infection) for both partners. If your worry is herpes you would be better to skip it.
posted by sully75 at 9:02 PM on August 12, 2010

Theora55 is right - Valtrex/Valacyclovir is a base analog that inhibits DNA synthesis and stops our cells from dividing. If viruses are in the cells it cuts their lifespan short, but the drug does not pick and choose which cells to affect - it will affect any dividing cells - skin cells, blood cells, you name it. If your body cuts down on making blood cells - white blood cells specifically - you could be looking at an increase in other infections.

Definitely talk to your doctor. I doubt they will say yes but they may give you some other tips to protect yourself. Also I use acyclovir for cold sores which typically is a smaller dose - your doctor may consider that (but I doubt it).
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 1:07 AM on August 14, 2010

« Older Period but still pregnant?   |   Non-Sketch Estate Sale Resources Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.