Treating Herpes With Medication
While there isn’t a cure for herpes, there are medications that can help keep symptoms at bay, so you can live your best life without worrying about having a flare-up.
Pilot offers two treatment options for herpes â one is suppressive therapy that involves a daily or proactive medication, which reduces the chances of future outbreaks and minimises the risk of passing it on to a partner. In fact, this medication reduces recurrences by 80 per cent and reduces transmission risk by around 50 per cent.
The second option is outbreak therapy, to treat current flare-ups when they occur. Taken at the first sign, a one-off course of antibiotics shortens the duration of an outbreak, offers fast relief and lessens the severity of symptoms.
Simply complete Pilot’s text-based questionnaire and a local doctor will create a personalised treatment plan based on your individual circumstances, which will then be discreetly delivered to your door.
Living with herpes might feel limiting but thanks to modern medicine, there are ways to treat outbreaks and keep symptoms to a minimum while also reducing the chance of passing the virus onto a partner, so you can continue to have a thriving sex life.
Avoid Withdrawing From Your Partner
A sudden outbreak can be disappointing, especially if you were looking forward to an intimate evening.
But its important to remember that your worth isnt tied to your diagnosis. Youre still the same person, outbreak or not.
If you dont truly believe this, your words might reflect your self-judgment, and you might end up pulling away or conveying the message you do have something to feel embarrassed about .
Instead of saying something like:
- We cant have sex tonight I understand if you dont want to come over after all.
Try something like:
- Tonights a no-go for sex, so lets cuddle up with a horror movie.
The second validates the reality that you still have a lot to offer in the way of companionship. And dont forget, a hot makeout session can be pretty sexy. Think of the tension youll build up!
Sex is an important component in many romantic relationships, but it shouldnt be the only thing keeping your relationship going.
To help your relationship thrive, practice connecting with your partner in other ways.
You might try:
- sharing goals for the future
- simply existing in the same space
Experts agree this simply isnt true. The virus doesnt live long once outside the body, so the risk of transmission is very low in these scenarios.
Soap and water kills the virus, so if you touch sores to apply medication, all you have to do is wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Take Steps To Prevent The Spread
One of the first questions people ask when they get diagnosed with herpes is: Whats the risk Ill give it to a sexual partner? says Fred Wyand, a sexual health educator and manager of ASHA‘s herpes simplex virus programs. Your chances arent zero, but you can control the risk more than you might think, he notes. Follow these three steps for prevention:
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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.
How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
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Is It Safe To Have Sex With Someone Who Has Herpes
So, you or your partner has discovered youve got herpes.
Before things get hot and heavy, its important to understand how to safely navigate sex when while dealing with herpes. In fact, herpes doesnt have to mean an end to your sex life, it just means youll have to take a few extra steps and precautions to keep yourself safe.
Its impossible to totally eliminate your risk of contracting herpes from an infected partner, but you can take steps to make things as safe as possible. That means avoiding sex when your partner is experiencing an outbreak and waiting until symptoms subside before having sex again. And yes, that means every kind of sex .
Using barrier contraception such as condoms is also a wise move to help lower the risk of transmission during sex . Plus, regularly taking antiviral medications can help lower your partners chances of outbreaks occurring too.
Can I Have Sex With Herpes
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If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores Can It Still Be Passed On
If someone has herpes but no sores, can it still be passed on to another person? Spence*
Yes. Even when no sores are present, the herpes is still active in the body and can spread to others.
If you or your partner has herpes, reduce the risk of spread by:
- using a condom every time you have sex . The herpes virus can live outside of the area that a condom covers, though, so a condom may not always prevent the spread.
- avoiding sex during outbreaks
- making sure the infected person takes antiviral medicine every day as prescribed by the health care provider
The only way to completely prevent herpes and other STDs is to not have sex .
- *Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
How Long Will I Need To Take The Treatment
Many people who use suppressive therapy say that they get so used to taking the tablets or capsules they are happy to continue with the treatment.
If you choose suppressive therapy, you do not have to stay on it permanently. If you prefer, you can take it until you feel in control of the herpes infection, but this is usually a period of 6-12 months initially. Your doctor may suggest you stop the suppressive therapy for several months after you have taken suppressive therapy for some time, in order to assess how active your genital herpes remains. If you are still having problems with herpes recurrences, you and your doctor may then decide that you should start suppressive therapy again.
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What Else Should I Know
Genital herpes is a lifelong condition, but there are ways to manage it. If you have genital herpes:
- Take medicines to stop outbreaks or make them less frequent and less severe.
- Help reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to others by taking medicines, always using a condom during sex, and avoiding sex during outbreaks.
How Herpes Is Spread
You are most likely to spread herpes when you have a herpes sore or blister. But many people have time periods when they can still spread the virus even though they dont have symptoms.
And some people spread the infection because they dont realize that they have a herpes sore. Or they may have different symptoms, such as painful urination, that they dont realize are part of an outbreak.
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How Do I Deal With The Stigma Around Herpes
Even people with symptomatic herpes often argue that the negative connotations are the worst part of having it. Physically, yeah, it does suck, Sarah said. But the emotional toll that this takes on people is all because of the stigma.
After being diagnosed with genital herpes, some people report feeling anxious, depressed, and alienated. Pierce described years spent feeling like a walking virus, always worrying about transmission.
Medical care providers can exacerbate this insecurity by failing to give people meaningful information about how to navigate sex with herpes. When I got my diagnosis, the nurse just gave me a pamphlet and told me to go on with my day. Sarah said. Too often, providers also use openly stigmatizing language, misrepresenting the severity of the condition. When I told my family doctor about my diagnosis, she was horrified, Sarah added. She said, I wish youd gotten chlamydia instead, because then, I could have just given you a pill, and it would have gone away. Now, you cant have kids.
When I tried to research this on my own, most of the information I found was pretty vague, and a lot of sources seemed to contradict each other at least a bit, Sarah added.
How To Tell Your Partner
It may be difficult to talk about these issues before sex. Still, youre far more likely to be able to build a lasting relationship based on the truth.
People are willing to take risks for love. Theyre also less likely to blame a partner for giving them herpes if they went into the relationship with open eyes. Heres a sample script that may help:
You: I really like you, but before we go any further, I wanted to tell you that I may have a cold sore.
You: Well, because theyre contagious and caused by a herpes virus, I think its important to let someone who Im interested in dating to know that I get cold sores before I kiss them or sleep with them.
Partner: Cold sores are herpes?
Partner: I had no idea. My ex used to get cold sores a lot. What does that mean for me?
You: Well, the herpes virus can be transmitted during kissing and also during oral sex. I always practice safe oral sex, but even thats not perfect.
Partner: We never used condoms for oral sex. Does that mean I have herpes?
You: Not necessarily. The virus isnt transmitted every time you have sex. But it might make you feel better to get tested and find out.
Partner: Theres a test for herpes?
You: Yeah. Its a blood test. It can tell whether you have ever been infected even if you dont have symptoms. What do you think about that?
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
People usually associate genital herpes with recurring blisters that bubble up in an infected area, breaking, oozing, and lingering as painful sores for a week or two. I assumed youd know for sure if you had it, because youd always be having those outbreaks, said Jenelle Marie Pierce, executive director of The STI Project, an education and advocacy group, who was diagnosed with genital herpes as a teenager. Your genitals would be full of blisters and look painful and gross.
Again, most people never get those symptoms. Those who do usually have a bad initial outbreak, which may last a few weeks and be accompanied by headaches, fatigue, and fever. After that, though, most suffer progressively fewer and less severe recurrences as their bodies presumably get better at responding to the virus. Some people may have multiple outbreaks every year, while others may only rarely or never have another.
In the first year , I got a lot of outbreaks, said Sarah. I thought that was going to be the rest of my life. But I barely get them now. Over the last two years, Ive only had one.
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Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
How Do You Get Herpes
Herpes is not one infection. Its the umbrella term for a family of eight related viruses, including those that cause chickenpox, mononucleosis, and shingles. Two of these viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2, can cause genital herpes. HSV-2 causes most cases though, while HSV-1 mainly manifests as cold sores on lips.
Both viruses spend most of their time lying dormant in nerve clusters we dont fully understand what determines when or why the viruses go to sleep, or how long they rest. When they wake up, they start to reproduce and try to spread to new hosts. This is when symptomatic people get blisters and/or irritation. Copies of the virus spread out from these symptomatic areas, especially open sores.
However, asymptomatic people can shed viral copies as well. Some research suggests that most people get herpes from asymptomatic folks, especially those who dont know theyre infected. The ease of unwitting transmission helps to explain why genital herpes is so common. Most studies suggest that at least one in six people between the ages of 14 and 49 have HSV-2.
The viruses die so quickly when they leave the human body that its exceedingly rare, if not functionally impossible, to contract them through indirect contact, like sharing a drink or food with someone with cold sores. But if they come into direct contact with a mucous membrane, or an open cut on any part of the body, the viruses can set up shop there.
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Faqs About Cold Sores Answered
Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2. Since sexual contact is the major means by which genital herpes is transmitted, the illness does not usually arise before adolescence. When a child develops genital herpes, healthcare providers must consider the possibility of abuse. This is true whenever a person contracts a sexually transmitted disease prior to the teen years.
People at heightened risk for HSV-2 infection include those who have multiple sexual partners, women, people with low incomes, and those infected with human immunodeficiency virus . In fact, among people who tested positive for HIV, one study found that the prevalence of HSV-2 infections ranged from 70 to more than 90 percent.
- A herpes sore on any part of the body
- Saliva, if your partner has oral herpes, or genital fluids, if your partner has genital herpes
- Skin around the mouth if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or the skin in the genital region of a partner who has genital herpes
You can catch genital herpes from a partner who has no visible sores, or from a partner who doesnt know that they have the infection. But a person is most infectious during their first outbreak of herpes, when they have sores, and during later outbreaks that produce sores.
Genital Herpes: How Can You Prevent The Spread Of Herpes In Sexual Relationships
Herpes viruses are most likely to be transmitted during an outbreak, so it’s better to not have sex during this time. Herpes can also be passed on to others in symptom-free phases, though. This risk can be reduced considerably by using condoms.
If you have genital herpes, there are some things you can do on your own to protect your partner from infection. The main things are
- not having sex during an outbreak,
- using condoms during symptom-free phases, and
- talking openly with your partner about the disease.
Preventive treatment with antiviral medication may be an option for people who have genital herpes very frequently. This medication inhibits the activity of the virus, thereby lowering the risk of infecting partners.
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