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.
Should You Get Tested
Its a good idea for the partners of people with genital herpes to have a blood test for herpes antibodies. This can help them to decide whether to use antiviral medication as protection, for example. Both partners may already have the same virus type. Then theres no reason to take medication to protect each other.
If one of the partners has HSV-1 or cold sores and the other one has HSV-2 or genital herpes, they could infect one another with the other virus. If one partner has herpes viruses in their body and the other doesnt, condoms are one way to prevent infection.
How Can You Contract Cold Sores
Cold sores are generally contracted from skin to skin contact with an infected area. For example, if someone has a cold sore on their lip they can pass on the virus to another persons mouth through kissing. HSV-1 is often the most easily acquired herpes infection. Usually the first herpes simplex virus that people encounter, oral HSV-1, is typically spread simply by the kind of social kiss that a relative gives a child. Because children have no prior infection with any HSV type, they have no immune defense against the virus.
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If I Already Have Herpes How Can I Keep From Giving It To Someone Else
You can do several things to keep from spreading genital herpes:
Consider sexual abstinence .
Don’t have any kind of sex when you have herpes sores, itching or scabs. And remember that you can spread genital herpes even when you have no sign of a sore.
Always use condoms when you have sex.
Always wash your hands right after touching your genital area, even if you have no sores.
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Herpes Simplex
During an outbreak, a dermatologist often can diagnose herpes simplex by looking at the sores. To confirm that a patient has herpes simplex, a dermatologist may take a swab from a sore and send this swab to a laboratory.
When sores are not present, other medical tests, such as blood tests, can find the herpes simplex virus.
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Will Suppressive Therapy Make It Easier To Live With Genital Herpes
Suppressive herpes therapy may give marked improvement to your emotional well-being. Many people find the fact that they can control the infection gives a boost to their sense of well-being and self-confidence. Even if only taken for a few months, suppressive therapy can help you to come to terms with emotions caused by recurrent genital herpes, including depression and anxiety.
However, suppressive therapy is only part of it. There are benefits gained from expert counselling from your doctor or nurse, or by speaking to a counsellor on the tollfree Herpes Helpline 0508 11 12 13. Make sure that you continue to talk to a health professional you are comfortable with, at least until you feel completely at ease with having genital herpes and in command of the infection.
Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
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Suppressive Therapy With Valtrex
Suppressive therapy is the use of prescription Valtrex on a daily basis whether an outbreak is present or not. Whereas Valtrex is commonly used to stop an outbreak, it can also be used daily to prevent outbreaks from occurring to begin with. This daily use of Valtrex also reduces the proclivity of the virus to shed, i.e. be contagious as often. Its use appears in studies to reduce the viral shedding periods by 50%.
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Men vs. Womens Transmission Rates and Contagiousness
Because of the nature of male and female genitalia, it is easier for herpes to be transmitted to a woman by a man than vice-versa. This is because female genitals have more exposed soft tissue. This also accounts for why approximately 1 out of 4 American women have herpes, whereas 1 out of 5 American men does.
Is It Bad To Take A Suppression Medication Every Day
While oral herpes isnât curable, if you take suppression medications daily, it can suppress your HSV. That means that its very likely you wont get any more sores, or at least not nearly as many or as often. Second, suppression medication can also help prevent the spread of your herpes to your partners. Research has found that if you take these antiviral drugs daily, they can reduce transmission . Usually your doctor will only prescribe this if youâve had a certain number of outbreaks in a short amount of time, but you can also talk to her if youâre particularly worried about passing your HSV along.
No medicine comes without its downsides. For instance, Valtrexâs possible side effects include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, depression, pain in your stomach, joints, or uterus, and rash. Just because these side effects have been identified doesnât mean youâll get them, but you might so they are good to know about. Itâs also possible for you to develop a tolerance to the available drugs over time, although this seems to be very rare.
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Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
Most People Get Hsv1 As A Child
Oral HSV-1 is often the most easily acquired herpes infection. Usually the first herpes simplex virus that people encounter, oral HSV-1, is typically spread simply by the kind of social kiss that a relative gives a child. Because children have no prior infection with any HSV type, they have no immune defense against the virus.
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How To Reduce Your Risk Of Contracting Herpes
Because herpes is so common, millions of new people are infected with the virus every year. Often, new infections are asymptomatic, meaning you might not know that you have been infected for months or years after contact with the person responsible.
If you do contract herpes, particularly HSV-1, its important to remember that its a very common virus. Its also easily treatable, with a wide range of highly effective medications available in the event you have an outbreak.
With this said, there are several ways to lower your risk of contracting herpes, particularly HSV-2 :
Avoid risky sexual behavior, such as having sex with multiple partners without the use of protection.
If you want to have unprotected sex with your partner, ask them about their HSV-2 status and, if required, consider asking them to see a physician about getting a herpes test.
If youre not sure about your sexual partners HSV-2 status, use a condom to cover up the potentially infected area and reduce the risk of HSV-2 transmission.
Avoid sexual activity with people that have visible sores on their mouth or genitals, such as lesions that resemble small bumps or pimples.
How To Tell If You Have Herpes
Heres the truth about 8 common myths about genital and oral herpes, which can help you determine if youve been infected with either herpes simplex 1 or herpes simplex 2.
Nearly two-thirds of the global population is infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 , according to a recent report released by the World Health Organization. Researchers affilated with the organization estimated that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 are infected with HSV-1, the type of herpes most people associate with cold sores on the mouth.
Another 417 million people worldwide aged 15-49 have HSV-2, the type most often thought of as a sexually transmitted infection , causing sores to appear on the genitals. But heres the truth: 140 million adults have genital infections caused by HSV-1, meaning half a billion people could sexually transmit either virus.
While this news may be shocking, dont panic. Herpes has been seriously stigmatized for years, but its also incredibly common, as these statistics show. The fact is, if you dont have one type of herpes already, youre very likely to be exposed to it eventually. Below, we take apart eight big myths about this common infection, so you can get a better sense of whether any sore or lesion youve noticed on either your mouth or genitals might actually be caused by herpes.
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Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
How To Protect Your Baby From Herpes Infection
About one in six Americans ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes typically is caused by HSV-2, a herpes virus strain. But more than half of adults in America have been infected at some point in their lives with HSV-1, the herpes virus that commonly affects the mouth in the form of cold sores. HSV-1 also can cause genital lesions through oral sex. Both of these viruses can cause significant infections in newborns.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
How Do You Get Herpes
Oral herpes can be spread by oral-to-oral contact like kissing or by sharing drinks.
The likelihood of contracting herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from sharing objects such as silverware, soap, or towels is low, but it is possible, says Dr. Benitez.
While an outbreak isnt necessary for herpes transmission, herpes is most contagious about 3 days before an outbreak this usually coincides with an itching or burning sensation or pain in the area where the outbreak will occur.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Caught And Passed On
The facts about passing on/transmitting herpes are clear:
Herpes is passed directly from the affected area of skin , by direct skin to skin contact, with friction, when the virus is present.
It can be passed from the face of one person to the genitals of another through oral sex, when the virus is active.
You can pass it on from the affected area, when the virus is present on the skin surface: from the first warning signs that a recurrence is starting , through the time when there are sores or blisters, until they have healed and fresh skin has grown back.
Get this two-page summary which covers the basics.
About six in ten adults by age 25 carry herpes simplex virus type 1 and one in ten carries type 2. Even more people carry herpes simplex virus in older age groups but most dont know. Only around one in three of those infected with either type is aware of this.
Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
How Can I Avoid Getting Herpes
The best way to prevent the transmission of herpes is by using a condom or other barrier method of protection. Using protection is especially important if you know that your partner has herpes. You can typically prevent the transmission of oral herpes by avoiding skin-to-skin contact with an infected person during an outbreak. If someone has a fever blister or cold sore, do not kiss them or receive oral sex from them until the sores are fully healed.
How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people who have genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms. You may not notice mild symptoms or you may mistake them for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people who have herpes do not know it.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. These symptoms are sometimes called having an outbreak. The first time someone has an outbreak they may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or swollen glands.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they are infected with HSV-2. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although the infection stays in the body for the rest of your life, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
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What Are The Risks Of Getting Hsv From An Infected Person
HSV-2 most commonly causes genital herpes through contact with genital sores. However, it can even spread when there are no visible sores or partners who dont even know that they are infected. According to statistics, around 87% of people infected with HSV-2 dont know that they have the disease.
Several studies have experimented with the rate of transmission between partners. According to a 2004 study of the New England Journal of Medicine, there were 1484 couples, and one of the partners had the virus. The asymptomatic partner had monthly checkups to check for symptoms of the disease. Doctors educated 741 couples about protection using condoms to avoid herpes transmission. Amongst those couples, only 27 became infected, and 16 of them had an outbreak.
According to the CDC, almost 775,000 people contract genital herpes infection. Moreover, it is common in women because it transmits from men to women during sexual contact. Other than avoiding sexual contact, there is no other way to prevent the transmission completely. Using condoms can reduce the transmission, but it doesnt eliminate the risk. Alternatively, there is another method to reduce the risk of using antiviral medicines.
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