What You Need To Know
- Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
- Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
- If you know you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, cesarean section may be recommended.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Spreading Or Getting Genital Herpes
If you have herpes or are dating someone with herpes, this page tells you how reduce your risk of spreading herpes to you partners, or how to reduce your risk of getting herpes from your partner. By using these practices, many people have been successful in NOT spreading herpes to their partner. Many people who have herpes have actually NEVER spread it to a partner. There are no guarantees. Everyone has a different situation. But if you follow these practices, youll be doing yourself and your partners a favor.
Your partners unique health and immune system is also a factor. But if you use some or all of these practices, your risk of transmitting the virus to your partner might be much much lower.
You May Like: Can I Donate Blood If I 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.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Type 1
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 To Prevent Transmission
The blisters and cold sores that appear during a herpes outbreak are very contagious. People can help prevent the spread of herpes by avoiding certain types of contact during an outbreak.
For example, when a person has a herpes outbreak during which they will have noticeable symptoms they should avoid:
- kissing, and any other form of oral contact
- engaging in oral sex
- sharing objects that have come into contact with saliva, such as lip balm
The virus can also spread even when a person has no symptoms.
Using condoms and other barrier methods correctly during sexual activity can help reduce the chance of herpes transmission. However, it does not completely rule out the possibility of transmission, as barrier methods do not protect the whole area around the genitals.
People can also take an anti-herpes medication to help prevent transmission to any sexual partners.
Anyone who has herpes during pregnancy should talk with their doctor about the possibility of passing it to the baby.
People with the herpes virus may not have any symptoms. If symptoms do appear, however, they are usually most severe during the first outbreak.
The following sections will list some symptoms by herpes type.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Treatment For Herpes
Recommended Reading: How To Avoid Herpes Flare Ups
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
Learn How To Protect Your Partner From Herpes
- Dec 21, 2016 // Modified 5 years ago
It is a smart idea to disclose to your potential partners your infection of genital herpes. Even the use of a condom does not guarantee the prevention of spreading the disease since a condom may not be able to cover all the sores. Therefore, it is feasible for the infection to become active and then transmitted to a sexual partner even with the skin appearing completely normal.
These are a few tips to educate you to ensure you partner is protected:
You May Like: How Do You Transfer Herpes
Don’t Miss: How Long Do Herpes Symptoms Last
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they will always have the virus and can give it to others. But you are not alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the US and worldwide. Exact numbers of people affected are not known. This is because many people dont realize they have it, especially if symptoms are minor and are not bothersome. 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 , 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 talk to your doctor if this is a right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. Women with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your health care provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does Herpes Outbreak Last On Face
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
Symptoms depend on the type of herpes virus you have and which part of the body it affects. Many people with HSV-1 or HSV-2 dont experience any symptoms during an outbreak. This is called asymptomatic infection. With an asymptomatic infection, you are more likely to unknowingly spread the virus to others. When HSV-1 and HSV-2 do cause symptoms, the types of illness caused by both viruses often look and feel the same. The main difference is that if you are infected with HSV-2 in the genital area, you are more likely to have a relapse, or have outbreaks, than you would be if you were infected with HSV-1.
Symptoms of oral herpes can include:
- Pain, burning, tingling, or itching on the lips or mouth.
- Cold sores on the lips or around or inside the mouth, which may initially look like shallow ulcers and then crust over. Without treatment, these sores last several days to a few weeks before clearing up on their own.
Symptoms of genital herpes can include:
- Pain, burning, tingling, or itching on or around the genitals, buttocks, or inner thighs.
- Burning sensation while urinating if the sores are near the urethra .
Studies suggest that having genital herpes may also increase your risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This is because herpes causes open sores on the genitals, which make it easier for the HIV virus to enter the body.
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.
Don’t Miss: How To Deal With Having Herpes
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.
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
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Herpes On Finger
How High Is The Risk Of Spreading Herpes
The risk of spreading herpes depends on a number of factors, some of which are within your control:
- – Length of time you have been infected with the herpes virus
- – Whether your partner is a man or a woman
- – How frequently you use condoms during sex
- – Whether you take antiviral medication
Research shows that in couples where one partner had genital herpes and condoms were only used during outbreaks, the other partner became infected within one year in up to 10% of couples.
The risk drops significantly with additional precautions like consistent condom and antiviral medical use. One large study reported that only 1.9% of susceptible partners became infected with clinically symptomatic HSV-2 when given the antiviral valacyclovir as a precautionary treatment.
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
Also Check: Is Herpes Curable With Antibiotics
Why Is It Important To Tell Your Partner
Herpes viruses are extremely contagious. And itâs not just the risk of spreading a cold sore that you should be worried about. If you have an HSV-1 infection, you can give your partner genital herpes through oral sex.
This is because HSV-1 can be spread from the mouth to the genitals as easily as HSV-2 can be passed from the genitals to the mouth. Skin-to-skin contact is all that is needed.
Having an open sore increases risk of an STD by providing the virus or bacteria a direct route into the body. With HIV, the infection can actually promote infection by providing the virus with the immune cells it preferentially targets and infects.
To this end, it is just as important to discuss both of your sexual histories and not just herpes. As awkward as this may seem, it allows you both to explore whether itâs time to get an STD screen from your healthcare provider or local health clinic.
Recommended Reading: How Can I Get Rid Of Herpes Simplex
My Partner Has Herpes How Can I Avoid Getting It And And Still Have A Fulfilling Sex Life
I just found out the guy Ive been seeing for a couple weeks has herpes. Im full of questions, but one question I keep dwelling on is, how can people get pregnant without passing on herpes to their partner? How can I avoid getting herpes and still have a fulfilling sex life with him?
Its normal to have complicated feelings after you find out that your partner has herpes. Millions of people are living with herpes, and sharing your concerns with your partner and educating yourself on how its spread are good ways to protect yourself.
Genital herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it including . Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Here are other ways to avoid getting herpes from your partner:
Talk with your partner about taking herpes medicine every day, which can lower their chances of spreading herpes.
Dont have sex during a herpes outbreak, even with a condom. There may be sores on places the condom doesnt cover. Wait until the sores are totally gone, and the scabs heal and fall off.
Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. is a registered 501 nonprofit under EIN 13-1644147. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable under the law.
You May Like: How To Relieve Genital Herpes Pain
Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests is very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then the result may be less likely to find a positive result.
Donât Miss: Can You Spread Herpes To Yourself
What Can We Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting The Herpes Infection
If you take the necessary precautions, the chances of getting the herpes virus from your partner are reduced. Genital herpes does not mean abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex.
The risk of transmitting the herpes virus can be reduced by about 50% 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, most couples choose to avoid genital skin-to-skin contact during an active episode of herpes because this is when the herpes virus is most readily 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.
Herpes 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. A sexual lubricant is helpful right at the start of sexual activity.
If you or your partner has a cold sore, it is advisable to avoid oral sex as this can spread the herpes virus to the genitals.
Don’t Miss: Can Sea Moss Cure Herpes