Send The Message Before You Have Sex
The conversation needs to happen before having sex and hopefully not in the heat of the moment. Alexandra Harbushka, founder of Life With Herpes and spokesperson for Meet People With Herpes, says a great way to lead with the topic is talking about both parties sexual health, and insisting that you both get tested.
How Will A Partner React
Some may overreact. Some wont bat an eye. Since many people have genital herpes or have heard about it, many people wont be shocked or surprised. From the stories that weve heard at the Herpes Resource Center, most people will react well, and will appreciate your honesty and respect for the relationship and their wellbeing. While a negative reaction is possible, this doesnt necessarily mean a bad ending. If that person values you as an individual and is interested in a relationship, something as minor as herpes shouldnt stand in the way. If it does, then that person obviously wasnt a good fit in the first place.
Whatever happens, try to be flexible. Give your partner time to respond, think about what youve said and absorb the information. Remember when you first found out? It took you time to adjust, too.
You dont have to be overly concerned about protecting a partners feelings. And, you may want to reconsider a relationship where you have to do all the emotional work. A safer sex discussion might help you find out if this partner is a good candidate for your love and attention.
A few people are going to react negatively. It wont matter what you say or how you say it. Remember, these people are the exception not the rule. If a partner decides not to pursue a relationship with you because you have herpes, it is best to know this now. There are many people who will be attracted to you for who you arewith or without herpes.
What Should You Discuss About Herpes
Talk about when it is safe to have sex. “Some important information to share would be whether or not you have frequent outbreaks, which is the highest risk time for transmission,” Dr. Baldwin said. Avoid sexual activity during a symptom outbreak, or if you have pain or tingling in the areas you get lesions since that can be a warning sign of an outbreak.
You should also tell your partner if you are on any antiviral medications. Taken daily, drugs like acyclovir and valacyclovir , can significantly reduce the risk of herpes transmissionbut not 100%. You should use condoms even while taking these drugs, but condoms cannot fully prevent the virus from spreading because the virus can spread on genital areas not covered by a condom.
As long as you’re honest and safe, herpes shouldn’t kill a budding relationship. “From my point of view, I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker,” Warren said.
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How Effective Is Suppressive Therapy
Studies have proven that continuous suppressive antiviral therapy for herpes can dramatically reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks or prevent them all together and reduces the risk of transmission by 50%.
For example, a very large study found that people who had an average of over 12 herpes occurrences a year, could reduce the frequency of their herpes outbreaks to less than two a year after one year of continuous suppressive therapy.
The study also showed that if recurrences do occur during suppressive therapy, they are usually less severe and shorter lasting.
I didnt want to take any drugs, so I tried natural therapies. These didnt work. I now take aciclovir 400mg twice a day and have not had any outbreaks since. If your outbreaks are frequent, I really recommend it. MK
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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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.
What It’s Like To Date Someone With Herpes
So the person you like just told you they have herpes. Youre thinking should I date them? What does this mean for me? Hows this going to play into our dating and sex life?
Ok so first let me calm you down and let you know what it feels like when youre first diagnosed with herpes. Seriously, dating or being able to date is the number one fear. We think that nobody will date us and that our life is over! The fear of rejection is a real thing and so telling the person we like that we have herpes is really scary.
So firstly before you make an decisions I want to make sure youre aware that the person youre dating really respects you. He or she took a leap of faith and told you their deep dark secret. They told you that they have herpes. This was really hard for them so I hope that you give them some credit and acknowledge that it was hard for them.
Here are the top questions youre going to have when dating someone with herpes:
Can you still have sex?
YES, the answer is yes! You can still have a normal and healthy sex life if you or your partner has herpes! And yes, you can do something to prevent prevention. There are so many stories of people whove been together for years and have not yet transmitted it. It really boils down to communication and trusting your partner to disclose to you when they had their last outbreak or if they feel one coming on. Here are 3 ways you can prevent transmission to your partner.
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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.
Example Disclosure Of Diagnosis
I like how things are going in our relationship, and Im hoping well end up in bed sometime soon. Before we do, I wanted to let you know that I have genital herpes. I take suppressive therapy and havent had an outbreak in a while, so the risk of passing it to you is low.
Still, its not zero, so I wanted you to have a chance to think about it before we get intimate. You dont need to respond right now. When, and if, youre ready, Im happy to talk with you more or to just send you some information.
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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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Myth #: Your Sex Life Is Over
While theres no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life.
People have a disproportionate fear of herpes in relation to any other STI, Grimes says. They feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and thats in no way the case.
If you have the virus, your doctor may prescribe a medication like Zovirax or Valtrex to keep on hand in case of a flare-up. And if you experience outbreaks often, your provider may recommend daily dosing. However you treat it, its worth remembering that herpes is a condition to manage it doesnt define you.
If you have to be perfect for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very, very long time to find a match! Grimes says. Everyone has something, and since one in six Americans between 14-49 have HSV-2, odds are very high that your next partner is in the same boat. The main issue is to have productive conversations around these issues.
So theres no reason for all the stigma and secrecy surrounding herpes, since its safe to assume more people have it than you think. And if youre diagnosed with the virus, your provider will help you find a treatment plan thats easy, effective, and fit for your lifestyle.
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What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
There are two types of HSV:
Symptoms develop 2-20 days after the initial exposure to HSV. Initial signs may include:
- Itching, burning, pain, or tingling around the mouth or genitals
- Sores or blisters around the mouth or genitals
Other signs and symptoms may include:
How Are Cold Sores Transmitted
Cold sores are typically spread through kissing and oral sex. HSV-1 is transmitted through touching affected skin that contains the virus or secretions, like saliva. HSV-1 can penetrate closed, healthy skin on your lips and genitals since the skin in those areas is very delicate, says Dr. Anthony.
Previously, people thought HSV-1 was limited to the mouth area, and the related strain, HSV-2, was the one to worry about on the genitals. And its true that HSV-1 is usually oral while HSV-2 is typically on genitals. But doctors now know that both types of herpes can infect either location, reports Dr. Anthony.
The bottom line: HSV-1 can make its home in both the oral or genital areas. You can get cold sores from coming into contact with the virus in various ways:
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Tips For Dating With Cold Sores
Cold sore sufferers know the truth: a cold sore always pops up at the most inconvenient time. But what should you do when that tingling feeling begins the morning before a date you’ve really been looking forward to?
Don’t panic. Here are seven tips to help you navigate dating with a cold sore and avoid spreading a cold sore to your date.
When Your Partner Has Herpes
What do you do if its not you with herpes but your partner? Hearing the news may throw you for a bit of a loop. If youre worried or upset, thats understandable. However, try not to take it out on the person who told you. Being open and honest about a herpes diagnosis isnt an easy thing to do.
Its quite possible youve already dated people who had the virus. You may already have it yourself. The majority of people with herpes have no idea they are infected.
Its your choice whether you want to keep dating someone after learning of their herpes diagnosis. Dating someone who knows theyre infected, at least gives you the option of intentionally managing your risk.
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Learn To Recognize Warning Signs
Once you start experiencing symptoms you can transmit the virus, so paying attention to early symptoms can help reduce the risk of transmitting it to a partner.
Along with that sort-of-itchy, sort-of-painful tingling feeling that I get before the sores appear, I notice tenderness in my mouth, fatigue, a low fever, and aches in my legs.
You might only get these symptoms with the first outbreak, but they can return. Returning symptoms are usually more mild than before.
When Should I Disclose My Diagnosis
If youre using a herpes dating site, the answer is pretty easyyou have an easy way to disclose it upfront on your profile in a community that is 100% filled with people who are going to be accepting.
If youre dating singles who dont have herpes , the question becomes when is the right time to share.
Lets start by working backward. You 100% have to share before you have any sexual contact or get in a situation where you may be tempted to have sexual contact. The other person has a right to know before they run any risk of contracting it. And the reason you want to do this even before you get in a situation where you may be tempted is weve heard a lot of stories of people who planned to tell but got caught up in the moment and didnt say anything for fear of rejection.
As long as you tell before these situations, youre not going to be wrong. That being said, there are more optimal times, especially if youre not planning on having sexual interaction for a longer period of time.
While its completely up to you, heres our take. The first date is a little soon to bring up something like this. Youre just seeing if there is any chemistry and if there is even a point to go deeper with someone. Again, this is assuming youre not going to be having sexual intimacy on the first date.
Again, no matter what, make sure you disclose your diagnosis prior to even the temptation of something happening where transmission could be possibleno matter how low the risk.
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How Likely Is It That Ill Get Herpes From My Partner
Staying in a relationship where you are negative and they are positive seems like playing with fire.
But theres something to be said for someone who knows they have herpes and knows how to manage it versus someone who has herpes and doesnt know and has never been tested.
Eric M. Garrison, a clinical sexologist, told Primer: When a person living with herpes knows everything about herpes and can comfort themselves and educate their partners, when they can know their prodrome and understand what that means, when they are aware of what can trigger their outbreaks, then sex with them can be less risky than sex with a partner who may or may not know their status.
A herpes prodrome are signs that an outbreak is about to happen. Herpes prodrome include itchiness, tingling, burning, numbness, aches, shooting pains, and other sensations and can appear 30 minutes to a couple of days before an outbreak. When prodrome is present, it means the virus is active and the chances of transmission are high.
Is the risk higher than being in a relationship with someone who is confirmed negative? Obviously yes.
But is it realistic to only be in relationships with people who have been recently tested for herpes? No. Wise? Yes. Likely? No.
That being said, youll never reduce your risk of contracting herpes from a partner down to zero. But you can get it pretty damn close.
There are three ways to reduce the risk of transmission.