Twenty-seven women with recurrent genital herpes simplex virus infection underwent daily home culturing to detect asymptomatic genital herpes simplex virus shedding. Asymptomatic herpes simplex virus shedding was documented on 1% of the days on which cultures were obtained. Asymptomatic shedding from the vulva was as frequent as asymptomatic cervicovaginal shedding, and 45% of asymptomatic episodes were identified only by positive results from vulvar cultures. All women who obtained samples on more than 100 days and 80% of women who obtained samples on more than 50 days had documented asymptomatic viral shedding, compared with only 6% of those who obtained samples for fewer than 25 days. Asymptomatic shedding was not related to contraceptive use or menstrual cycle. These data suggest that all women with recurrent genital herpes simplex virus infection should be instructed about the possible risk, albeit infrequent, of asymptomatically shedding virus from the genital tract.
Brock BV, Selke S, Benedetti J, Douglas JM, Corey L. Frequency of Asymptomatic Shedding of Herpes Simplex Virus in Women With Genital Herpes. JAMA. 1990;263(3):418-420. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440030105030