What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
Two Ways To Reduce Herpes Transmission To A Sexual Partner: Condoms And Antiviral Therapy
There are two main ways of decreasing herpes transmission rates to sexual partners:
- Antiviral therapy.
Condoms work as a physical barrier, preventing contact with infected skin. A condom covers only a very small area of skin and therefore provides only partial protection . However, it covers the most important areaâthe area that has thin, moist skin that is subject to being damaged more easily, which facilitates herpes transmission.
Antiviral medication given in a regimen that is suppressive inhibits the activity of the virus. Sadly, no method offers 100% protection. You can see the average protection rates of the earlier mentioned methods in the table below.
You May Like: Are There Dating Sites For People With Herpes
What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.
Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.
How Will My Doctor Know If I Have Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. In certain situations, a blood test may be used to look for herpes antibodies. Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for herpes or other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or how long you have been infected.
Read Also: How To Protect Your Partner From Herpes
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.
Genital Herpes And Hiv:
Genital herpes can increase the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition. HSV can cause sores and breaks in the skin, making it easier for HIV to enter the body.
People with a herpes infection have an increased risk of contracting HIV if exposed to it during sex. The herpes virus increases the number of CD4 cells found in the lining of the genitals, which are the cells that HIV targets for entry into the body.
HSV infection may double the risk of HIV infection.
HSV also increases HIV in the genital area of people living with HIV, thereby increasing their risk of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner. Sources:
Read Also: How To Cope With Having Genital Herpes
How Do I Prevent Myself From Contracting Genital Herpes
Avoid sexual contact with partners that have genital herpes when they are experiencing an outbreak, or they begin having symptoms that signal an outbreak . Risk of transmission of genital herpes is highest during an outbreak.
Sexual partners who have genital herpes may want to discuss taking antiviral medications with their healthcare provider, which can reduce their number of outbreaks and lower their risk of transmitting HSV to others.
Other methods that can help reduce the risk of contracting genital herpes include:
- Use condoms when having penetrative and oral sex
With both condoms and dental dams:
- Confirm the expiration date hasn’t passed before use.
- Inspect for tears and breakage – don’t use them if any are detected.
- Using water-based or silicone lubricant can help prevent breakage.
- Don’t use oil-based lubricants as they can cause breakage.
- It’s important to thoroughly clean sex toys before and after use.
- Wash before and after sexual activity
- Avoid sharing towels and clothing
- Ensure sexual partners who’ve had genital herpes have been thoroughly screened and treated. Refrain from engaging in sexual activity with them until their healthcare provider recommends itâs ok to do so.
- Get tested regularly and speak to sexual partners about their STI and screening history. â
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If your sex partner has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.
Read Also: How Does Dr Sebi Cure Herpes
Preparing To Talk To Partner
Before you talk about herpes and sexual health with a partner, make sure you are prepared to address any misinformation or misconceptions he or she might have. How well informed are you? Do you know the basic steps to reduce the risk to your partner? Do you know the facts about herpes? You want to feel confident and knowledgeable before you can explain the infection to someone else. Be prepared with information from ASHA and other reliable sources.
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.
Recommended Reading: What Medication To Treat Herpes
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.
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.
Also Check: What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Herpes
How Genital Herpes Can Affect Your Pregnancy
If you have genital herpes, its possible to spread the virus to your baby. A woman can spread it to her baby while she is:
Taking care of her newborn
If the baby gets the virus while in the womb, the mother may have a miscarriage or deliver the baby too early, causing the baby to be premature.
When the baby catches the virus during birth or shortly thereafter, this can be deadly for the baby. Be sure your OB/GYN knows that you have genital herpes so that precautions can be taken.
Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
Also Check: How To Kill Herpes Virus
How Do I Protect My Partner From Genital Herpes
First, regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with HSV or not, make sure to:
- Use dental dams
- Exercise proper hygieneâ
If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes or had sexual contact with someone that had it, get tested and treated with antivirals during outbreaks.
Remember, regular STI testing is an essential foundation of sexual health and a way to protect yourself and your sexual partners from contracting and passing transmittable infections. ââ
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
You May Like: What Will Kill Herpes Virus
How Can You Prevent The Spread Of Herpes
If you have herpes, how to reduce your risk of spreading herpes to you partners?. By using the following practices, many people have been successful in NOT spreading herpes to their partner might be much much lower. Genital herpes does not necessarily mean complete abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex.
How Likely Is It That I Now Have Genital Herpes Too
That depends on several things, including whether you and your partner always use a condom and how long you’ve been sexually intimate with each other.
If you’ve had sex only once or twice, and if you used a condom each time, the risk is lower than if you’ve had unprotected sex for a long time. But you could have been infected during any one encounter.
Even if you’ve never seen herpes sores on your partner’s genitals or your own, you still might have it. The symptoms of genital herpes are often subtle are easy to mistake for something else, like bug bites, pimples, razor burn, or hemorrhoids. Also, the virus can be contagious even when there are no symptoms.
Recommended Reading: What Do You Do If You Have Herpes
Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
When Are The Most Contagious Times
The herpes virus is always contagious, even when no symptoms exist. However, the risk of transmission increases significantly when wet, open sores and blisters are present in the midst of an outbreak.
From the time that you begin to feel the itching or burning sensation of developing herpes sores, until your outbreak has completely scabbed and healed, consider the virus highly contagious for your partner.
If youre the susceptible partner in the relationship and want to learn how to not get cold sores from your partner, be sure to abstain from intimate contact until each herpes outbreak has cleared.
Recommended Reading: Why Cant Herpes Be Cured
What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and genital warts are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.