What Increases Your Risk
Things that increase your risk of getting genital herpes include:
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Having a high-risk partner or partners .
- Having unprotected sexual contact .
- Starting sexual activity at a young age. The younger people are when they start having sex, the greater their risk is of getting genital herpes.
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Being a woman. Women are more likely than men to become infected when exposed to genital herpes. And their symptoms tend to be more severe and longer-lasting. Women also are at a greater risk of having complications from a genital herpes infection.
Having herpes, especially if you have open sores, also increases your risk for becoming infected with HIV if you are exposed to HIV.
Any child with genital herpes needs to be evaluated by a doctor to see if it is the result of sexual abuse. For more information, see the topic Child Abuse and Neglect.
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How Can You Avoid Genital Herpes
Most women get genital herpes through sexual contactwith a person who has herpes sores. You can get thevirus without having sex. To avoid infection:
- Avoid skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
- Have safer sex:
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Condoms, when used correctly, can reduce therisk of getting genital herpes. Each time you have sexuse a condom :
- Before vaginal sex
- Before oral sex
For more information, see Safer Sex.
What Are Signs Of Genital Herpes In Women
Women who have the herpes virus may have nooutbreaks or signs of infection. Many do not know theyhave the virus. Once you are infected, the virus staysin your nerve cells for life. When the virus is not active,there is no sign of infection. When the virus becomesactive, a herpes outbreak occurs. Some womenmay not have any outbreaks or may have only oneoutbreak, while others may have multiple outbreaks.
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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:
Precautions For A Partner You Live With
For sexual partners who live together and who both have been following all recommended ways to avoid the coronavirus, there is lower risk of transmitting coronavirus through sexual activity.
However, if one of you is more exposed to the virus, such as through going to work, then it is a good idea to take precautions, not just about sex but about other ways to prevent the virus.
If you are worried that a partner could be infected, the best thing to do would be to postpone sex until you are surer of their health status.
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The Health Risks Of Genital Herpes
Pain and discomfort are the main health effects of genital herpes, but the virus can also cause emotional and social problems for those infected. Although it cannot be cured, genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medication that may help control the recurrences. On rare occasions, genital herpes may cause serious complications such as blindness and inflammation of the brain.
Genital herpes can sometimes be passed from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or birth. The infection can be life-threatening to the child or result in skin lesions or brain damage. Antiviral medication and a cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of infecting the child.
Tips On Oral Or Genital Herpes Sex
1. Genital Herpes Sex. Basic advice for having safe sex with genital herpes is the following:
- You must tell your partner.
- Be honest and open about your condition.
- Avoid sex before, during, or after outbreaks.
- Take suppressive medication such as Valtrex or Acyclovir.
2. Genital Herpes Oral Sex. Basic advice for oral sex with genital herpes is the following: avoid sex during outbreaks of any sorts. Be careful and observant of what is going on in your and your partners body. Take suppressive medication.
3. Oral Sex Herpes. From my experience, Yes, you can have oral sex even with herpes. But remember the golden ruleno sex during outbreaks.
4. Cold Sore and Oral Sex. When you get cold sores, you are getting herpes. It is oral herpes. So dont have oral sex. You do not want to expose the blister to your partner. If you are careful, and dont kiss, you could still have genital sex. This way you could still have safe, fun oral sex even with herpes, but just not during outbreaks, or even suspicious outbreaks.
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Valacyclovir Tablets Are Used In Adults:
- to treat cold sores
- to treat shingles
- to treat or control genital herpes outbreaks in adults with normal immune systems
- to control genital herpes outbreaks in adults infected with the human immunodeficiency virus with CD4 + cell count greater than 100 cells/mm3
- with safer sex practices to lower the chances of spreading genital herpes to uninfected partners. Even with safer sex practices, it is still possible to spread genital herpes. Valacyclovir tablets used daily with the following safer sex practices can lower the chances of passing genital herpes to your partner.
- Do not have sexual contact with your partner when you have any symptom or outbreak of genital herpes.
- Use a condom made of latex or polyurethane whenever you have sexual contact.
Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
The only way to prevent genital herpes and other STDs is abstinence. This means not having sex . If someone decides to have sex, using a latex condom every time can prevent most STDs.
But condoms can’t always prevent the spread of genital herpes. This is because the virus may be in the skin near the genitals .
People also can lower their risk of getting an STD by:
- getting tested with any new partners before having sex
- only having sex with one partner
People who are sexually active should get tested for STDs every year or more often if recommended by their health care provider. To find a testing site near you, visit the CDC’s National HIV and STD Testing Resources.
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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.
Can Herpes Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent getting herpes is to not have sex with anyone who has the virus. It can be spread even when the person who has it isnt showing any symptoms. If your partner has herpes, there is no way of knowing for sure that you wont get it.
There is no time that is completely safe to have sex and not spread herpes. If you have herpes, you must tell your sex partner. You should avoid having sex if you have any sores. Herpes can spread from one person to another very easily when sores are present.
You should use condoms every time you have sex. They can help reduce the risk of spreading herpes. But its still possible to spread or get herpes if youre using a condom.
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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.
A Drug For Genital Herpes May Be Right For You
You might also consider taking antiviral drug therapy for genital herpes to reduce the amount of virus you shed. A recent study shows that daily suppressive therapy may help keep your partner from being infected.
Daily therapy isn’t the only option, or necessarily the best one for you. If your outbreaks are few and far between, you might set your mind at ease by keeping a supply of antiviral pills that you could take in case of a flare-up. Ask your doctor if you could benefit from taking medication for genital herpes.
Another consideration may be that the friction of sex could irritate the skin and trigger outbreaks. If that’s a problem for you, try using a water-based sexual lubricant. K-Y jelly and AstroGlide are two brands available at many drugstores.
Don’t use an oil-based lubricant, however, because the oil can break down latex. Also, do not use a lubricant containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 may cause tiny rips in mucous membranes that can let viruses like herpes and HIV enter the body more easily.
For more guidance, see these three articles:
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Dont Forget Your Mental Health
Living and dating with herpes can come with unique stressors. Arming yourself with the right tools and information can help both your physical and mental health Ã¢ and help you feel better about your sex life.
Learning how to cope with your diagnosis can also mean seeking mental health support. The good news is, that support is available.
In Toronto and Vancouver, there are:
If youÃ¢re struggling with your mental health, itÃ¢s important that you talk to your healthcare provider. You can also speak to a counsellor about your herpes diagnosis at the Ontario Sexual Health Infoline at 1-800-668-2437.
If youÃ¢re ever in an emergency, call 911 right away.
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.
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Lets Look At Other Sexual Ways You Can Transmit Herpes
Ok so most of us dont think that STIs or STDs can be transmitted with oral sex. But the truth is it can. In fact, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV, and hepatitis b can be transmitted through oral sex, the only thing thats 100% not possible is pregnancy. What this means is oral sex is not a great solution to not having a condom or an easy way to not have the conversation about safe sex. Oral sex transmission is just as probable as vaginal sex. THeres a lot of new herpes cases that pop up from just having oral sex.
Spooning or Cuddling
What Im trying to get across is a couple of things. 1) just having sex doesnt transmit herpes 2) you really need to communicate with your partner about having herpes 3) please dont let this stop you from having skin to skin contact or be afraid of touching your partner.
What A Herpes Diagnosis And Casual Sex Really Mean
Im going to get right to it. Yes, you can have casual sex even with a herpes diagnosis!
But heres the deal, theres a few steps that need to be taken before jumping in between the sheets.
When this topic comes up in my Emergency Calls or our Support Group calls it usually starts out with something along the lines of, I can never hook up again or its so hard to watch my friends hook up with whoever they want and I cant do that anymore or the only people who can have one night stands are people without STDs. Seriously I can go on and on with this.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Now the way I look at it is nothing has really changed now that you have herpes. If you want to have casual sex theres nothing holding you back. Of course unless you have an outbreak but really nothing has changed. You still need consent from your partner, you still need to have the STD talk and you both still need to practice safe sex.
The only difference now is that you’re worried about rejection from that potential one night stand. And when we take a step back were worried about an opinion of someone we dont even know. I get it, rejection or fear of rejection can hurt or keep us from going out and doing our thing. The truth is we never really know why someone doesnt like us nor do we know why theyre not into us. I talk about this a ton our weekly Support Groups.
Anyway, here are 2 things you need to follow before hooking up with your fling.
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If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
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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.
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