What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after youre infected with the herpes virus.
If you have genital herpes, your previous sexual partners should get tested.
The doctor or nurse at the clinic can discuss this with you and help you tell your partners without letting them know its you who has the virus.
Many People Who Have Herpes Use Condoms Only During Symptomatic Outbreaks
Three-fourths of individuals who know that they have genital herpes either abstain from vaginal sex or always use condoms when they have symptoms, but only one-fifth do so when they are free of symptoms.1 In an international cross-sectional study of individuals with genital herpes who were in monogamous, heterosexual relationships, only about half knew that the infection could be transmitted between outbreaks. Participants odds of having sex during symptomatic periods were elevated if they or their partner used an IUD, if they were Latin American or European and if they had previously had an STI. Their odds also increased with the number of sex acts per month and with the number of outbreaks per year.
The study was conducted between 1998 and 2001 among clinic clients who were being screened for participation in an international trial of drug therapy to prevent transmission of genital herpes. In 17 countries in North America, Latin America and Europe, researchers gave questionnaires to individuals visiting clinics who were infected with herpes simplex virus type 2, reported having had symptoms and had partners who had never had symptomatic genital herpes. Participants provided information about their demographic characteristics and their sexual behavior , and answered questions testing their knowledge about genital herpes.
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Can You Have Unprotected Sex If You Have Herpes
Yes, of course you can. But before you hit the sheets with your partner lets talk about some details first.
One of the biggest fears or thoughts are about having sex when youve been diagnosed with herpes is that youll have to use a condom for the rest of your life.
The other day I was listening to a podcast and the woman called on and said that she was interested in a guy but he has genital herpes. She naturally was concerned and proceeding very cautiously. I mean, I totally get it. One of the things that came up was the lack of spontaneity and the fact that they would always have to use a condom.
Im here to say that the spontaneousness of sex is still there. With or without herpes. Just so you know.
One of the things that I think we dont realize is the normal concerns we have about sex are the same with or without herpes. We just place the emphasis on having herpes. All these concerns about condoms, sex, oral sex, spontaneous etc are there without herpes.
The good news about having herpes is now couples are talking about their sexual health and how they are going to proceed. One thing I say all the time is the way bigger deal here is talking about birth control as well as other STIs. I dont want to get off track but when we get herpes we forget that there are other sexually transmitted disease out there and the much bigger thing is that unprotected sex can create an unwanted pregnancy.
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How Should I Take Valacyclovir Tablets
- Take valacyclovir tablets exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Your dose of valacyclovir tablets and length of treatment will depend on the type of herpes infection that you have and any other medical problems that you have.
- Do not stop valacyclovir tablets or change your treatment without talking to your healthcare provider.
- Valacyclovir tablets can be taken with or without food.If you are taking valacyclovir tablets to treat cold sores, chickenpox, shingles or genital herpes, you should start treatment as soon as possible after your symptoms start. Valacyclovir tablets may not help you if you start treatment too late.
- If you miss a dose of valacyclovir tablets, take it as soon as you remember and then take your next dose at its regular time. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not take the missed dose. Wait and take the next dose at the regular time.
- Do not take more than the prescribed number of valacyclovir tablets each day. Call your healthcare provider right away if you take too much valacyclovir tablets.
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any needed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms, including dental dams during oral sex.
- Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off.
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Facts About Cold Sores
Cold sores usually appear as a single watery blister on the lip or mouth, or several blisters that consolidate into one.
However, HSV-1 can also lead to genital herpes during oral sex and HSV-2 can sometimes lead to cold sores.
HSV-1 is very common. About 67% of the worlds population under age 50 has HSV-1.
Cold sores affect roughly 3 of every 1,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Of these, 33% will experience subsequent attacks triggered by stress, fever, and other causes.
Once you have HSV-1 it doesnt go away. If you develop a cold sore, the virus can spread more easily.
Cold sores are typically spread through saliva and direct contact. You can get them through kissing or sharing lip balm with someone who has a cold sore.
Cold sores can be painful and may take up to 14 days before active healing begins.
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What Happens During A Herpes Outbreak
- Painful lesions or small blisters around the genitals, rectum, or mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
Recurrence of herpes outbreaks is common and may happen several times a year. However, symptoms during a recurrence tend not to last as long or be as severe as the initial outbreak.
You should not have sex during an active herpes outbreak because you are more contagious and likely to spread the infection to your partner.
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How To Know A Herpes Outbreak Is Totally Healed
When a herpes outbreak is healing, crusts and ulcers will be replaced by new tissue, similar to other skin problems. Outbreaks heal from the outside to the inside, and there will be measurable differences in both depth and diameter.
When the outbreak is over, there wonât be any pain in the area. All scabs will fall off, leaving new clear skin. More information about herpes outbreak timeline.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, it is very important for you to go to prenatal care visits. Tell your doctor if you have ever had symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, genital herpes. Also tell your doctor if you have ever been exposed to genital herpes. There is some research that suggests that genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage, or could make it more likely for you to deliver your baby too early.
Herpes infection can be passed from you to your unborn child before birth but is more commonly passed to your infant during delivery. This can lead to a potentially deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting herpes during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, you may be offered anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes at the time of delivery. At the time of delivery, your doctor should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have herpes symptoms at delivery, a C-section is usually performed.
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Is It Possible To Have Unprotected Sex And Not Catch Herpes
If you have unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes then youre not guaranteed to catch it, but you are playing with fire. Herpes infections are highly contagious and very easy to catch, so although you arent guaranteed to catch it you have a high chance.
OK. Lets get down to it and look at some specifics about how you can catch herpes infections:
Avoiding Passing Genital Herpes To A Partner
If you have herpes, you can follow some simple measures to avoid passing the virus on to your partner, and to continue to have a healthy and happy sex life. These include:
- telling your partner if you have herpes
- learning to recognise the warning signs that an episode is starting
- not have sex during an episode of herpes
- avoiding direct contact with your sores or blisters and another person
- avoiding kissing and oral sex when you or your partner has cold sores around the mouth
If you have frequent episodes of herpes then it is worth talking to your GP or sexual health clinic about longer term treatment which may also reduce the chance of you passing on the virus to your partner.
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If You Have Herpes Are You Immune To A Second Infection From Someone Else
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex virus type 2 .
People with one strain of herpes can get another. Since immunity is important, it is generally thought that getting herpes a second time is much harder than getting it the first time. Transmission of type 2 genital herpes to a person who has antibodies against type 2 herpes is rare. Studies have shown that a person with genital herpes can catch a new case of genital herpes, but other studies have shown that this happens only rarely. In most cases, if a person with genital herpes catches genital herpes while with a partner, they are catching it from themselves having a recurrence. Type-specific antibodies against your own strain of virus make it very difficult to catch a second infection of the same strain from a different person.
How Soon After Unprotected Sex Can I Test For Herpes
Herpes has an incubation period of 2 to 12 days for initial infections. This means it can take 12 days for it to show on a test. The symptoms can appear quickly after exposure. This leaves a short window of time within which to do a swab test. Blood tests can however be accurate even months after exposure. You can wait either until symptoms appear or allow the incubation period to end before performing a blood test after unprotected sex.
If you test positive for herpes, it will be a lifelong condition. This applies to both HPV 1 and HPV 2. There is no need to retest if confirmed positive. Simply manage the symptoms as they come.
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Is It Possible To Get Herpes During Protected Sex
Yes! According to a 2010 study conducted by Emily T. Martin and others, there is a high risk of herpes transmission during protected sex when one of the partners is herpes-positive.1 The probability reaches 50% to 70%.1, 2 This is explained by the fact that Herpes is transmitted skin-to-skin or skin-to-mucosa.1 Therefore, the parts of the genitals that are not covered by the condom are open to herpes infection.1
How To Have A Healthy Sex Life With Herpes
A healthy sex life with herpes can be a reality with honesty, good communication, and knowing how to manage and prevent spreading the infection to your sexual partners.
Healthcare providers and public health experts have outlined ways to have safer sex and prevent the spread of herpes with various treatment options.
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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 Are The Chances Of Getting Herpes From An Infected Partner
While we think of HSV-2, the virus that most commonly causes gential herpes, as spreading through contact with herpes lesions, transmissions commonly occur when there are no visible lesions or from a partner who doesnt even know that they are infected. In fact, it is estimated that over 87% of people who are infected with HSV-2 never get diagnosed.
Studies have looked at herpes transmission rates between partners. In 2004, a large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine followed 1,484 heterosexual monogamous couples for 8 months where one partner had an HSV-2 infection and the other didnt. The susceptible partner was evaluated monthly for clinical signs and symptoms of genital herpes. Of the 741 couples who were only educated on using condoms for protection , 27 became infected with the virus, including 16 of whom developed an outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year, over 775,000 people get new genital herpes infections. It tends to be more common in women, possibly because it is more easily transmitted from men to women during sex.
Other than abstaining from sexual contact, there is no proven way to completely prevent getting infected by your partner. While condoms can help reduce the chance of transmission, they dont completely eliminate the risk. However, another option to further reduce the risk of spread is daily antiviral medication. More on this next.
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How Common Is Genital Herpes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 40 million to 50 million adults in the United States have genital herpes. HSV II infection is more common in women and in people who have had more than five sexual partners. Most people with HSV II do not know they have it, because it does not always cause symptoms.
What If I Dont Have Any Herpes Symptoms
Most people with a herpes infection are asymptomatic and dont know they have it. Others might have mild symptoms that can be easily confused with other skin conditions.
Even if you dont have active symptoms, there is still a risk of transmission. Studies have shown that over 10% of people with an asymptomatic HSV-2 infection had genital shedding , compared with around 20% of those with symptoms .
This is why being transparent and communicative with your sexual partners is necessary. Just because you cant see the virus, that doesnt mean its not there and that they cant contract it.
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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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How Does Genital Herpes Spread
Herpes can be spread when an infected person has lesions blisters and open sores on their body or when you do not have any symptoms. Taking antiviral medicine can help you reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partners. You can also:
- Inform your sexual partner that you have genital herpes.
- Use a condom every time you have sex.
- Refrain from having sex when you have symptoms.
- Abstain from performing oral sex if you have blisters or open sores around your mouth.
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