What Is The Risk Of Transmission Between Recurrences
Studies have shown that virus may sometimes be found on an infected area, even when there are no visible symptoms. This is called asymptomatic shedding. If enough virus is present when direct skin contact takes place, a partner may become infected.
The fewer recurrences a person has, the less chance there is of asymptomatic shedding.
Learn More About Dating And Sex With Herpes
Genital herpes affects hundreds of millions of people around the world, many of whom have no problems enjoying a normal, fulfilling sex life.
Our complete guide to having sex when you have herpes covers everything you need to know about sexual activity if you have genital herpes, from the most effective antiviral medications to lower your transmission risk to signs and symptoms your partner should be aware of.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication
Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.
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Can Genital Herpes Harm Babies Either During Or After Pregnancy
Having genital herpes does not affect your ability to have a baby. Overall, the incidence of neonatal herpes is very rare. However, when it does occur it is potentially very harmful to the baby. It is therefore important to tell your doctor or midwife if you or your partner have had a history of genital herpes. They will then be able to provide information, reassurance and optimal management.
Recurrent episodes of genital herpes during pregnancy are not harmful to the foetus. If you have genital herpes at the time when your baby is due, there is a small risk that the baby could become infected at delivery as it passes down the birth canal. This risk is most substantial for mothers who are having their first ever episode of genital herpes near to or during delivery. However, if you are simply having a recurrence of genital herpes, then the chances of your baby becoming infected with herpes at delivery are low as the baby is protected by antibodies circulating in the mothers blood.
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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What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
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What Should I Do If I Am Arrested For Transmitting An Std
The state must prove each legal element of the criminal charge against you to obtain a guilty verdict. The prosecutor has the burden of proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, that does not mean you should not defend yourself.
You have the right to legal counsel. As soon as possible, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case. Potential defenses could include:
- You were not aware that you had herpes or another sexually transmitted disease
- You did not engage in sexual conduct with the alleged victim
- You disclosed your STD to the alleged victim before engaging in any sexual conduct
- You have been falsely accused of transmitting an STD
- The police officers violated your civil rights
If the police arrest you for transmitting herpes or another STD, do not resist arrest that could lead to additional criminal charges. Instead, exercise your right to remain silent except for asking for a lawyer.
It is not in your best interest to talk to the police or a prosecutor without a lawyer present. They already believe you are guilty, so you cannot talk your way out of an arrest.
If you are released on bail, do not contact the alleged victim or their family or friends. Instead, stay away from the alleged victim and let your attorney handle matters. Your best chance of beating the criminal charges is to listen to your attorney and follow their legal advice.
How To Avoid Genital Herpes
Using condoms reduces the risk of contracting all sexually transmitted infections including genital herpes.
Genital herpes can be passed on even when there are not blisters present.
However, the blisters and sores are highly infectious, so if you or a partner have cold sores or genital herpes:
- avoid kissing when you, or a partner, have cold sores around the mouth
- avoid oral sex when you, or a partner, have mouth or genital sores
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If You And Your Partner Both Have Hsv
If you or your parnter’s infection is less than 4 months old then he / you might be at small risk of getting further infections. It is very unlikely unless have direct contact with an active outbreak.
If your patner and you have the same strain for over 4 months, an outbreak on one won’t trigger one on the other.
Once a person is infected with a type of herpes in one location, they become largely protected from getting infected with the same type of herpes in another location at a later point in time.
This is because after one is infected with herpes the body creates antibodies to fight the virus. The body maintains these antibodies in the bloodstream and they protect from further infection. Different people generate antibodies at different rates, but by about 4 months post-infection the vast majority of people will have enough antibodies to prevent any further infection by the same type.
Many people will have sufficient antibodies a lot sooner than that .
How Genital Herpes Can Affect Your Pregnancy
If you have genital herpes, its possible to spread the virus to your baby. A woman can spread it to her baby while she is:
Taking care of her newborn
If the baby gets the virus while in the womb, the mother may have a miscarriage or deliver the baby too early, causing the baby to be premature.
When the baby catches the virus during birth or shortly thereafter, this can be deadly for the baby. Be sure your OB/GYN knows that you have genital herpes so that precautions can be taken.
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Do You Always Have To Use Protection Now That You Have Herpes
The quick answer is no! You can absolutely have unprotected sex even if you have herpes. Before we dive deep and go into explanation on this lets talk about how this is a huge myth and is one of the drivers for the stigma.
When we are diagnosed and told that we have herpes we automatically think that were going to be forced to use condoms for the rest of our lives, even when were married. Yuck! And this is not true. Yes, condoms are great! They do a great job at preventing pregnancy and they do an okay job at preventing the transmission of herpes. Condoms definitely have their pros and thank goodness we have them. But lets face it, there comes a time in a relationship when you dont want to have to use one. I get it.
Heres the deal with condoms. Like I mentioned before they are great at preventing pregnancy in fact theyre 98% effective when used correctly. And when it comes to preventing herpes transmission they are 30-50% effective when used correctly. So this is great news but it also explains why if you always used a condom why you still got herpes. Condoms dont cover all of the body parts. I mean youre pretty exposed still and herpes doesnt just show up in the areas that are covered by the condom. Herpes can be on a man’s scrotum, at the base where the condom doesnt cover or in any area around the genital region. Same thing for women, herpes is not just in the vaginal canal or around the opening. It can be any place in her genital region.
The Right Person Wont Reject You
The truth is, some people will reject you when they find out you have herpes. To quote a herpes support forum poster, dating with herpes can be stressful. However, if you do these things, then being diagnosed with herpes is not the end of the world:
- Talk about your diagnosis early
- Have information handy so that you can talk honestly about the actual risks and concerns of the disease
- Be willing to do what you can to reduce the chance you will spread herpes to your partner
Numerous people with genital and oral herpes are open about disclosing their condition. Most of them have active, happy dating and sexual lives. The truth is, its so hard to meet the right person that dating with herpes makes it only the tiniest bit harder. Life after herpes doesnt mean life without love.
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Put Genital Herpes In Context
People may have an irrational, inaccurate perception of genital herpes. Since its a sexually transmitted virus, they may group it in the dangerous STDs category of their mind, often beside diseases and viruses with much more severe symptoms.
Because of this, its often necessary to follow up the I have herpes part of the conversation with some quick statistics to provide context.
One way to do this is to let your partner know how common it is. According to the World Health Organization, when it comes to HSV-2, an estimated 11 percent of the world population ages 15 to 49 have the virus meaning you can correctly and accurately let your partner know that at least one in ten people is infected with the virus.
To put it in context, you can ask your partner to imagine that one in ten of the people they met that day have the exact same confession to make at some point, assuming they know theyre infected. Sometimes, this is all it takes to put genital herpes in context as a common type of virus.
How Big Is The Risk Of Infection
The likelihood of being infected with genital herpes during sex depends on many factors, including how often you have sex, whether and how frequently you use condoms, and how long your partner has already been infected. Someone who has had the virus for a long time is less contagious than someone who has just been infected. In general, women have a higher risk of becoming infected than men. Having other sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV also increases the risk of transmission.
In studies with couples where one partner had genital herpes, the other partner became infected within one year in 5 to 10% of the couples. The people in these studies only rarely used condoms, though and if they did, it was mostly during an outbreak. One of these studies showed that infection occurred in an estimated 1 out of 1,000 sexual acts.
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Realistic And Unrealistic Expectations
People may just need a little time to assimilate the information. This is where having well-written information helps. Consider giving them reading the material or referring them to a Sexual Health Centre, the Herpes Helpline: 0508 11 12 13 or the herpes website www.herpes.org.nz, to verify the information youve given them.
Whatever the reaction, try to be flexible. Remember that it took you time to adjust as well.
Negative reactions are often no more than the result of misinformation. In some cases, they are brought on when a person fears that youre asking them to commit to a relationship, instead of just informing them of the situation. If your partner decides not to pursue a relationship with you simply because you have herpes, its better to find out now. It takes a lot more than the occasional aggravation of herpes to destroy a sound relationship.
Some people react negatively no matter what you say or how you say it. Others might focus more energy on herpes than on the relationship. These people are the exception, not the rule. This is not a reflection on you. You are not responsible for their reaction. If your partner is unable to accept the facts about herpes, encourage him or her to speak with a medical expert or counsellor.
All relationships face challenges, most far tougher than herpes. Good relationships stand and fall on far more important issues including communication, respect and trust.
Doctors Dont Advise Getting A Blood Test For Herpes Without Any Symptoms
Hilda Hutcherson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, is one of those doctors. I usually dont do tests for herpes someone has a lesion or a sore, something I can see, I will do a swab and take it to a culture or check the DNA on the materials I removed, she says. If theres nothing there and I do a blood test and the blood test comes back positive, lets say its positive for type 1, what does that really mean? Most people are positive for type 1. She adds that someone could be HSV-1-positive and either have or not have genital herpes. The result doesnt mean much, and it makes people go crazy.
Hutchersons motto is pretty simple: Why stress yourself over something if you havent seen anything especially when its something as common as herpes? Lets say they have a blood test come in positive but theyve never had a lesion. Now what? You may never get a lesion, she says. Its for this reason that she recommends people do not get tested for herpes unless they have a visible lesion that can be cultured and sent to a lab. Lets say you get tested anyway and it comes back positive, despite the fact that you have no symptoms. What do you do?
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Reduce The Risk Sex Will Spread Herpes
One of the things that scares people when theyre thinking about dating with herpes is the risk for potential partners. Theyre concerned about the possibility that they might spread herpes to someone they care about. This is a legitimate concern.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the likelihood you will spread herpes during sex. Suppressive therapy, for example, can lower the risk of transmission significantly. Its not just good for reducing the number and severity of outbreaks.
Using condoms consistently, even for oral sex, can also make a big difference in your partners risk. Condoms and dental dams dont just make intercourse safer. They also make it less likely for you to spread herpes from your genitals to their mouth, and vice versa. Practicing safe sex is always a good choice.
Many People Seek A Partner With Herpes
As long as the relationship is monogamous, both partners have the same type of herpes infection , and both partners are free of other sexually transmitted infections, it’s not necessary to use barrier methods like condoms or dental dams. Friction can aggravate herpes sores and slow healing, so you may want to avoid getting it on when one of you has an outbreak for comfort reasons.
On a related note, some folks with herpes actually seek a partner who has the same strain of herpes, that way there’s no risk of passing on the virus.
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