How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
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 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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What If A Partner Has Herpes
In a new relationship there is always risk. Usually this risk is emotional. When a partner has herpes, there is additional risk that you could get it, too. You may have concerns about risking infection for a relationship that may not last. Youll want to understand how to lower the risk for infection and ways to talk with your partner. Remember, if you have been sexually active you may already have been at risk for herpes.
You may have it and not know it. Because herpes can be spread without symptoms it can be hard to know when a person became infected and who infected them. In fact, if you and your partner have had sex, its possible your partner got herpes from you.
In an intimate, sexual relationship with a person who has herpes, the risk of contracting the infection will never be zero. Some couples have sexual relationships for years without transmitting herpes just by avoiding sexual contact during outbreaks, using condoms regularly and using suppressive antiviral therapy to reduce outbreaks.
How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
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Could My Partner Have Picked Up Genital Herpes From A Toilet Seat Or Hot Tub
It’s very rare, if not impossible, to get genital herpes any other way than by sexual contact. The CDCs website puts it this way: You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels.
Keep in mind that many people have genital herpes for years or even decades without knowing it. When they are diagnosed, their monogamous partners often assume they were unfaithful, which may not be true. It could be something they got a long time ago. A blood test wont tell you when you got herpes or who you got it from.
The New England Journal of Medicine: “Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 in the United States, 1976 to 1994.”
American Sexual Health Association, National Herpes Resource Center.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases : “Genital Herpes.”
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: “Herpes genital .”
CDC: “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines 2002.”
WebMD Medical News: “Herpes Virus Linked to Cervical Cancer.”
Terri Warren, RN, Westover Heights Clinic.
Warren, T., and Warren, R., The Updated Herpes Handbook, Portland Press, 2002.
CDC: Genital Herpes — CDC Fact Sheet.
What Can I Do To Help My Partner
For starters, you can understand that having genital herpes is common. More than 1 in 6 people ages 14-49 in the U.S. have it, according to the CDC.
If you or your partner is upset about having herpes, joining a support group might help. And if you think genital herpes is harming your relationship, you could try couple’s therapy.
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My Partner Just Told Me They Have Herpes I Dont Now What
ByAnna C.|June 30, 2014, noon
Pictured above: From
Has your new partner just informed you that he or she has herpes? People have many reactions when hearing this kind of news and, depending on how informed you are about herpes, your reaction might be tinged with panic or fear. If thats your instinct, try to keep those feelings in check: Your partner might be feeling very vulnerable, so its best not to react with shunning or shaming.
More than 80 percent of people with genital herpes are unaware of their infections.
Herpes is more widespread than most of us realize. It can be caused by one of two strains of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 or HSV-2. While HSV-1 is more commonly associated with cold sores and HSV-2 is more commonly associated with genital herpes, either virus can infect the genital area. One estimate states that 1 out of 5 American females and 1 out of 9 American males between 14 to 49 years of age have a genital HSV-2 infection.
Now that you know your partner has herpes, you might have some questions. How easy is it to transmit genital herpes from one partner to another? What can you do to minimize your chances of catching the virus? And, while it is certainly stigmatized in our culture, is herpes something to fear?
has not hindered my love life, inhibited my ambition, or limited my friendships .
An anonymous writer shared these inspiring words:
Discussing Genital Herpes With Your Partner
Many people do not feel comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual health issues. This information will explore ways of feeling more confident in discussing herpes in the context of a sexual relationship.
Cold sores on the mouth and genital herpes are medically the same conditions. The significant difference arises from the stigma that tends to accompany a herpes infection that is sexually transmitted.
Most people find that their partners are both supportive and understanding. It is a common assumption to initially think that a person may base their judgement of you on the fact you have genital herpes. However, for most this is a minor skin infection. People fear the possibility of rejection but the reality of this is that it rarely happens.
Because fear of rejection is a concern, it leads some to question why they should risk talking about herpes. Accordingly, some people choose not to tell. Instead, they abstain during herpes outbreaks, practice safe sex at other times, and hope for the best.
This strategy may have more disadvantages than advantages. First of all, you spend a lot of time and energy worrying that your partner is going to get herpes. Its much harder to tell someone if they just found out theyre infected with herpes. For most people, the anxiety over not telling your partner you have herpes is worse than the telling itself.
If you are able to discuss the situation openly and honestly, you can find imaginative ways to be safely sexually intimate.
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How To Tell Someone You Have Genital Herpes
Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP
Whether youre telling a close friend or a romantic partner, letting someone else know that you have herpes can be a nerve-racking experience.
Luckily, it doesnt need to be an event you fear or feel anxious about. Herpes is a very common virus, withan estimated 11 percent of the population infected with the HSV-2 form of the virus and the majority of people infected with HSV-1 .
Below, weve provided a range of tips, tactics and techniques to help you tell other people you have herpes without fear, anxiety or other common issues.
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Who Might Get Herpes Simplex
People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:
- Were assigned female at birth.
- Have had multiple sex partners.
- Started having sex at a young age.
- Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.
Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?
Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.
Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.
People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.
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Other Ways Herpes Is Spread
While it is true that herpes simplex virus 1 is commonly linked to cold sores and herpes simplex virus 2 is commonly linked to genital herpes, it is possible to genital herpes if someone with a cold sore performs oral sex on you. On the flip side, you can also get a cold sore by performing oral sex on someone with genital herpes.
Herpes autoinoculation is also possible. This is when you touch a cold sore on your mouth and then touch your genitals . Although this is rare, it can occur.
People have also been known to get herpes in their eyes when they accidentally transfer the virus from the genitals or mouth. For this reason, washing hands frequently is important if you have a herpes outbreak of any sort.
Some Important Facts Affecting The Risk Of Herpes Transmission
- Herpes is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact
- The first outbreak is the most contagious
- There is a greater statistical chance of passing herpes when youâve been recently diagnosed whether you have symptoms or not
- Herpes infects skin areas that are thin and moist because itâs easier for the virus to penetrate those areas. For that reason, females are three times more likely to be infected than males
- Younger people having casual sex are more likely to contract herpes
- HSV-1 in the genital area recurs less often than HSV-2
- Being positive for HSV-2 gives some protection against getting HSV-1. The opposite is not true
- If a person with one type of herpes acquires a different type, the flare-up symptoms are milder
- Sex toys should not be shared. But if they are shared, they should be cleaned with water and soap before being used
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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.
What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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What Can We Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting A Herpes Infection
If you take the necessary precautions, the chances of getting the virus from your partner are small. Genital herpes does not necessarily mean abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex.
The risk of transmitting the virus may possibly be reduced if you use condoms. The continued use of condoms in a long-term relationship is a personal decision that only the couple can make.
Most find that as the importance of the HSV infection in their relationship is seen in perspective, that condom use becomes less relevant if this is the only reason condoms are being used. However, couples should try to avoid sexual intercourse during an active episode of herpes, because this is when the virus is most likely to be transmitted. This period includes the time from when your partner first has warning signs of an outbreak, such as a tingling or burning in the genitals, until the last of the sores has healed. Also, sexual activity prolongs the healing of the episode.
Transmission risk is increased if there are any breaks in the skin, for example, if you have thrush or small abrasions from sexual intercourse, often due to insufficient lubrication. It can be helpful to use a lubricant specifically for sexual intercourse and avoid sex if you have thrush. Sexual lubrication is helpful right at the start of sexual activity.
How To Prevent Spreading Herpes To Your Partner
If you have genital herpes and your partner doesnt, you can spread the virus that causes it to your partner during sex. For this reason, dermatologists recommend the following:
Tell your partner you have genital herpes
Explain that there is a risk that you can give your partner the virus that causes genital herpes. Be sure your partner knows that the following can reduce this risk:
Skipping sex when you have sores. To avoid giving your partner genital herpes, its recommended that you skip all sexual contact while you have sores and for one or two days after the sores clear. If your partners skin or genitals touches a herpes sore, your partner can easily catch the virus.
Using a condom when youre free of sores. Even when you dont have sores, its possible to spread the virus to your partner. When the virus isnt active, it travels from your skin to nearby nerve cells.A trigger can wake up this virus at any time. Common triggers include stress, illness, and surgery. If the virus wakes up, it travels back to your skin .Sometimes, when the virus wakes up, you wont have any sores or symptoms. During these times, you wont even know that the virus is on your skin . Its during these times that you can spread it to your partner. Condoms help reduce this risk.
Even when taking an antiviral every day, a condom must be used every time you have sex.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes- as long as there is no open lesion on chest or breast . If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
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.
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