How Do You Tell Someone You Have Herpes
The hardest part of telling your partner may be deciding how to broach the subject. The specific words and phrases you use will depend on what kind of relationship you’re building. In general, though, don’t stress too much about having herpes. Your partner may even divulge that they also have herpes. And if they have the same type of the virus as you, they can’t get “reinfected,” Dr. Baldwin stated.
You could start the conversation by mentioning cold sores, then move into the subject of herpes. You could also start by saying you want to be honest in the relationship, or that you want to discuss safe sex. “It can be a very difficult conversation to have, but you should be honest and straightforward,” Dr. Baldwin recommended.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing theyâll 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 .
Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
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Meet Nearby People With Herpes
PositiveSingles is the largest online dating and support community for people with herpes. Online since 2001, it has the largest user base among all the STD dating sites and APPs. You will find out there are plenty of people around you.
Thank you Positive Singles for providing me the avenue to meet my life long Soul Mate, the Love of my Life. It has been a wonderful year since we met and I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with Lisa.
It started as a long distance relationship for 6 months but after that we moved in together. Wishing the same for everyone else searching for their mate.
Not Telling Your Partner That You Have A Sexually Transmitted Infection Is Not Only Uncool It’s Not Fair
I performed oral sex a couple of times on my boyfriend, which in itself isnt a big deal, except that I carry the herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 and I havent told him. We also had vaginal sex. I didnt have an outbreak at the time and there were no blisters on my mouth or genitals at the time. Still, I feel so badly for not telling him. Should he be tested? And how can I talk to him about it?Signed, Feeling Bad
Genital herpes type 1 can be transmitted through oral-to-oral contact, like kissing or sharing a toothbrush, and herpes type 2 can be acquired by having unprotected sex with someone who already has it. And although its rare, the virus can also be activated after having hyaluronic acid filler lip injections , usually within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Herpes is most contagious when there is an outbreak, but it can also be passed to your partner even if there are no visible symptoms. With treatment, herpes can be managed, but not cured.
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Preparing For The Discussion
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.
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Articles On Genital Herpes And Your Sex Life
You must tell your partner you have genital herpes. If you pick the right time and say it the right way, there’s a good chance things will work out OK.
Think about how you want your partner to take the news. Do you want it to seem like a huge problem? Of course not, so don’t present it that way. If you say, “I have some awful news for you,” your partner will likely take it as awful news. Instead, be casual, direct, and unemotional.
Also avoid suggesting how they should react, especially in the negative. If you say, “You’re going to freak out when you hear this,” or “Don’t freak out, but…,” you are setting your partner up to panic either way.
Simply say you have genital herpes, and ask if they know what that means. Be prepared to present the facts.
Is It A Crime
Intentionally transmitting an STD is a crime in many states. A conviction for one of these offenses can be used as evidence in a personal injury case.
California is a state that makes intentionally transmitting an STD a crime. California Health and Safety Code 120290 HS makes it illegal to transmit infectious diseases. This includes STDs like:
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Pain And/or Itching In Or Around The Blisters
Lesions are usually very painful to touchespecially during the first herpes outbreak, which tends to be more severe. “The main thing that brings women into the office with herpes is pain,” said Dr. Shirazian.
Bumps that you find just by chance when sudsing up in the shower or toweling off probably aren’t herpes. “Herpes lesions will make themselves known and felt,” said Dr. Shirazian. They can also itch, especially as they begin to scab over and heal.
Learn To Recognize Warning Signs
Once you start experiencing symptoms you can transmit the virus, so paying attention to early symptoms can help reduce the risk of transmitting it to a partner.
Along with that sort-of-itchy, sort-of-painful tingling feeling that I get before the sores appear, I notice tenderness in my mouth, fatigue, a low fever, and aches in my legs.
You might only get these symptoms with the first outbreak, but they can return. Returning symptoms are usually more mild than before.
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A Yes Doesnt Guarantee A Good Relationship
It feels validating when someone says your STI is no big deal. But if accepting your STI ever becomes a bargaining chip or a favor your partner has done for you, this person might not be someone you want to date. They dont get to congratulate themselves for being kind enough to have sex with you, or use your STI as an excuse to not work hard in the relationship. Keep your bar high. You should have a partner who adores you and treats you the way you deserve to be treated, regardless of your sexual health.
Ive had several incredible relationships since I was diagnosed with genital herpes. Whats my secret? I refused to think I deserve anything less than an incredible relationship, no matter what stigma told me.
In 2020 I self-published my micro-memoir, LIFE RUINER, about my experience getting diagnosed with herpes. You can read it exclusively on my Patreon, along with other essays about intimacy, mental health and relationships.
Read a free excerpt here.
Choose The Right Moment
Its good to initiate this conversation when you and your partner are alone and free from distractions. There may not be a perfect time, but some moments are better than others. Avoid times when other major conflicts or stressors are occurring.
Once youre alone and comfortable, broach the subject with your partner. Stay focused and use the following techniques to help you share the information clearly and succinctly.
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Put The Diagnosis In Perspective
Couple it with the data they need to put it in perspective. Tell them the herpes statistics, what herpes is, and perhaps relate a little about how it affects you personally.
For example: Are you one of the lucky ones who has never had an outbreak? Or do you now have symptoms only rarely, or even never, after managing or stopping your outbreaks? What if you only have outbreaks somewhere unusual, like your lower back ? Even if you do have frequent outbreaks, do you take care to know the signs one is coming on and take care of your health in general? Then by all means, include this more flattering information!
Not Such a Huge Deal: Heres a way to put it in perspective: You could mention that there are several types of herpes viruses: chicken pox, cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles. They might realize that its stigmatized yet not life-threatening or really even all that scary. Just about everyone gets chicken pox, and the majority contract oral herpes in their lifetime.
It Happens to the Best of Us: You dont need to tell this new person anything about how you came to contract herpes, or defend your past to them. But if you think it helps to let them know some face-saving circumstance, use your discretion and gauge your trust in this person and the intimacy level. Sometimes mentioning that its possible to contract herpes even if you always use condoms is adequate.
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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Remember That Assholes Dont Deserve Your Time
No matter how misplaced herpes panic may be, it exists, and it may mean your partner reacts in a less-than-satisfactory way when you tell them about your status. Please realize that others may be afraid of the virus, its not you! Loanzon stresses, while also calling out one notable silver lining: Herpes can be a natural filter for dating, and eliminate those who will not surround you with support and love.
If someone responds negatively or ignorantly, Watson notes, you might not be able to change their minds with information. Let them go. You have to be vulnerable in this moment, and while you can do your best to educate your partner, you shouldnt have to try to convince them to stick around if they get hung up on the herpes.
Because if someone acts immediately hurtful or offensive, or if theyre scared off by your diagnosis, theyre probably not worth your time long-term anyway.
How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
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Set The Tone Of The Conversation
You want to be clear and confident, and you also dont want to talk about your infection as if its a huge problem. Dont use overly negative words and dont open by saying something like, Ive got some terrible news for you, or promise you wont freak out, as this sets the wrong tone and telling someone not to freak out is the best way to actually make them freak out. Start the conversation by saying something like, Ive just had the results of a test and Ive found out I have an infection that causes genital herpes.
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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Can You Have Herpes And Not Know It
Yes, it is possible to have herpes and not know it.
Some people may have an asymptomatic infection, which means they do not experience any symptoms. Others have symptoms that are mild, go unnoticed, or mistaken for another skin issue. Because of this, theyâre less likely to seek out a diagnosis to confirm herpes.
Genital Herpes: Common But Misunderstood
First recognize the symptoms and signs, then take action to prevent outbreaks
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause small, painful sores in the genital area. The symptoms may include low-grade fever, itching, burning, and trouble urinating. But many people with the disease dont realize they have been infected with HSV, because either they have only mild or infrequent symptoms, or no symptoms at all. In women, herpes outbreaks can also be mistaken for vaginitis, urinary tract infections, or even hemorrhoids.
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Tips For Disclosing Prior Or During Sexual Activity
So what if your connection with someone has taken on a life of its own and you are now, somehow, in bed with your partnerand you havent disclosed yet? This isnt supposed to happen, you think to yourself.
While its not how we should discuss our sexual health in an ideal world, it is a reality for many folks. Youre afraid. You wait too long. You get carried away. Lips are kissed, buttons are undone, and you know the rest.
“The truth of the matter is, we can never really predict exactly how a person will react. “
As difficult as it may be, try to take a deep breath and remove yourself from the immediate situation. Maybe that means taking a trip to the bathroom or going to grab a glass of water. Now youre in a position, whether youre comfortable or not, to tell your partner why you removed yourself from the interaction. It wasnt their breath, or the way they were moving. It was what you neglected to tell them for consent to occur. Honesty is especially key in these moments if you want the chance to build trust.
Take a calming breath, and say something like, It wasnt anything that you were doing. Its what I didnt do. I have genital herpes, and I was too afraid to tell you. Im not having an outbreak, but theres still a chance you could contract it, even though it’s pretty low. Then you can offer information about your specific STI, how you both can take steps to reduce the risk of transmission, how to get tested, and symptoms to watch for.