How Herpes Is Diagnosed
Your first step is to make an appointment with your gynecologist if you have a lesion on your genitals or believe you were exposed to herpes. Google really cant tell you if you have genital herpes or not, says Dr. Shim. A diagnosis of herpes can be made with an exam, but your doctor will also order a culture swab from the sore to confirm the virus.
Your doctor can give you advice on easing symptoms, shortening their duration, and preventing outbreaks in the future. Taking the antiviral drug Valtrex daily can decrease transmission to a non-infected partner, says Dr. Shirazian. Maintaining general healthy habitsthe stuff you always hear like eating healthy, staying active, and getting enough sleepgo a long way to keeping your immune system strong to minimize outbreaks.
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When You Have Sex With Your Partner Do It Safely
Even if your partner is completely fine with your herpes status, its important to practice safe and responsible sex. This means avoiding sex during outbreaks which are when the risk of herpes transmission is highest and using physical protection such as a condom or dental dam.
It means talking to your doctor about the potential use of antiviral drugs like valacyclovir, which can decrease the amount of viral shedding produced by the herpes virus and lower your risk of infecting others.
It also means accepting that theres always a risk of transmission, even with the use of condoms and avoidance of sex during outbreaks. Even asymptomatic herpes can spread in sex, meaning theres no way to be 100 percent protected when youre getting intimate with your partner.
Are You Legally Required To Tell Someone If You Have An Std Like Herpes
Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | August 31, 2021 | Personal Injury
Herpes and other STDs can have a significant impact on your life. However, they can also impact the lives of your sexual partners. If you have an STD, you may wonder whether youre required to let someone know about your condition.
You dont need to tell everyone about your STD. However, New York law requires you to disclose this information to a sexual partner before engaging in sexual acts that can result in the transmission of an STD.
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Pick The Right Time And Place
You should have the conversation when you both have time to talk it through, without any time pressures or other distractions. Dont try and tell them while youre rushing to leave for work in the morning or as theyre drifting off to sleep at night.
Pick somewhere where youre both comfortable and can talk freely. Talking at home over a coffee on a weekend afternoon is probably going to be better than in a public place.
Pimplesand Not On Your Face
Well, at least its not as obvious as a big zit on your forehead? These tiny blisters dont always occur, but when they do, theres a good chance you have genital herpes. Like any miserable pimple, they eventually crust over and scab, says Jennifer Berman, M.D., a co-host on The Doctors. Its not necessarily on the genital areasometimes its in the crease of the underwear or closer to the buttock, she says.
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Sex Question: Do I Have To Tell My Partner If I Have Oral Herpes But No Outbreaks
Dear Dr. H,
*My college womens clinic is extremely thorough, so my standard exams have included testing for herpes, which I understand isnt always the case. I came up positive for antibodies against oral herpes infection . However, I dont remember ever having a cold sore so I assume I was infected with oral herpes as a child. Since I dont have breakouts, what responsibility do I have in dating? I believe in being tested before sex and will definitely share my results then, but do I have a duty to avoid kissing? It seems like there is such a small chance of me passing on what is already a very common virus that telling would ruin my dating. *
Read on for Dr. Hilda Hutchersons response.
A. The HSV-1 that appeared in your blood test most likely represents the common cold sore. And what you describe isnt unusual: Most adults have been exposed to oral herpes and many of us do not remember having a cold sore. Oral-to-genital transmission in the absence of an outbreak is rare, so you dont need to share this bit of news with your future partners. Of course, like everyone else, you should never kiss or perform oral sex on someone if you do have signs of a cold sore. It should also be noted that many people infected with genital herpes have never had a single visible blister or havent recognized an outbreak. Always, always err on the safe side and use a condom when having intercourse. For more information, contact the National Herpes Hotline.
How To Recognize Herpes
This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 646,027 times.
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It has two variations, the HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually manifests as a cold sore, or oral lesion, but may sometimes appear on the genitals. HSV-2 refers to genital herpes. HSV-2 is the most common viral sexually transmitted infection in the US and causes infections of the skin and mucous membranes, rectum, eyes, and central nervous system. Herpes is a lifelong and incurable STI.XResearch sourceA Wald, Genital HSV-1 Infections, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2005 June, 82, 189-190 If you think you may have the virus, follow a few simple steps to recognize if you have herpes.
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Ask Yourself: Do I Really Want To Tell Them
Theres a big difference between someone who wants to tell a person that they have herpes, and a person who isnt sure whether they should tell another person that they have herpes. The person who wants to tell another person about their condition will usually not struggle with the process. The individual who is unsure whether to tell another person about their condition will often go back and forth in their head about whether they should or shouldnt tell another person.
If you have doubts about whether you can trust the person youre about to tell, you probably shouldnt tell them. On the other hand, if you simply dont have the courage to tell the person, but know you can trust the other person, you probably should tell them. Either way, unless you are engaging in sex with the other person , it is a personal decision.
Some people are more extroverted and open about whatever condition theyre diagnosed with. Certain individuals diagnosed with herpes will tell most people they know and/or meet regardless of whether its HSV-2, HSV-1, or both. You need to know yourself as a person and whether you are comfortable with others knowing about your condition.
So If You Have Herpes Dont Worry That Your Love Life Is Over Its Not
You can have great sex, find love, and also cut down on the chance of passing herpes along to your partner, Triplett says. Just keep these few things in mind:
Its possible to transmit herpes even if you dont currently have cold sores or a genital outbreak. The virus exhibits something called asymptomatic shedding, Triplett says. Because of that, we strongly recommend you always use condoms to protect yourself. You can also use dental dams, little latex sheets you place over the vaginal area during oral sex.
Suppressive therapy medications, like Valtrex, can lessen your chances of getting an outbreak or transmitting the virus. They wont make it impossible, but combined with barrier methods, its much less likely, Triplett says.
The right person wont view it as a deal-breaker. Once you do tell them, if they want to be with you and accept you completely, you can work through it, Triplett says.
This story originally appeared on SELF.
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To Tell Or Not To Tell About Genital Herpes Or Cold Sores
It’s natural to be concerned about telling a new partner that you have genital herpes. Fear of being rejected and perhaps being uncomfortable about sexual health concerns makes it a tricky subject to bring up. However, it is more likely that your partner will respect your openness and honesty and it will be an opportunity to take your relationship to a deeper level of trust and understanding.
There are no black and white rules for telling your partner you have herpes, and everyone needs to make their own decisions depending on the situation, but the fact is more people are accepted by new partners than rejected for having genital herpes.
Some people choose not to tell casual partners. They don’t have sex during an outbreak and practice safe sex by using condoms. And this is an OK decision.
In a relationship, “not telling” can cause anxiety and stress affecting your emotional and sexual health.For most people the anxiety over not telling is worse than the telling itself and they find their partners both supportive and understanding. By telling your partner, you are opening up the opportunity to have an honest and shared discussion about other sexual health concerns.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Spreading Herpes
There are ways to lower the risk of spreading HSV-1 to your partner. If you have an active outbreak, avoid letting the affected area touch your partners skin. Concerned about transmitting the virus when no symptoms are present? Using a protective barrier like a condom or dental dam can reduce the risk.
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Dont Psych Yourself Out
Its human nature to imagine all of the no good, very bad directions the conversation can take. When I was first diagnosed, the many nasty ways my date could reject me ran through my head like ticker tape. But convincing myself every disclosure would be a disaster was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and Ive only ever been turned down when I entered that conversation from a place of doubt and insecurity. When you bring negative energy into your disclosure, your partner will mirror it and anticipate the worst. If youre visibly stressing out, they will be on edge too. If youre a confident, smiling charmer who graciously shares information, theyll be more at ease and in a better frame of mind to process what youve said.
Instead of fixating on the risk of rejection, think of the character and respect you are demonstrating by being honest about your sexual health. In disclosing your status, youre being generous and responsible and kind. Theyre lucky to know you. They may even find your transparency refreshing.
The Health Risks Of Genital Herpes
Pain and discomfort are the main health effects of genital herpes, but the virus can also cause emotional and social problems for those infected. Although it cannot be cured, genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medication that may help control the recurrences. On rare occasions, genital herpes may cause serious complications such as blindness and inflammation of the brain.
Genital herpes can sometimes be passed from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or birth. The infection can be life-threatening to the child or result in skin lesions or brain damage. Antiviral medication and a cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of infecting the child.
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First Decide If Its Worth Telling
Before you start practicing how to tell someone you have herpes, consider whether its information that needs to be shared at all.
Most people in your life dont need to know about your herpes diagnosis. Friends, colleagues and family members arent at risk of catching the virus from you, and you dont owe them the information.
Its more important to share this information with potential sexual partners before you sleep together. Genital herpes spreads mainly through close sexual contact, even if youre not experiencing an active outbreak. For this reason, its essential to share that you have herpes before your partner faces the risk of infection.
Weigh the pros and cons of whether its best to tell your partner before you get too involved, or to wait until after youve dated for a while and may begin sleeping together. This choice is entirely yours and will be influenced by your own comfort zone, the personality of your partner, and the dynamics of your relationship.
Do You Need To Tell Them
Before you tell anyone that you have genital herpes, its worth asking yourself whether or not they need to know. Your friends, colleagues and family probably dont need to know about it, as theres minimal risk of them catching the virus from you through sexual contact.
If you have close friends and the subject of herpes comes up in discussion, feel free to tell them about your HSV-1 or HSV-2 status if you feel comfortable. Just remember that you dont owe an explanation or confession to anyone youre not putting at risk of catching the virus from you.
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Tips For Disclosing Via Text
Communication is hard. No matter how strong a relationship is, theres something about being vulnerable that tends to make us stressed and uncertain. If disclosing in person isnt something you think youre ready to tackle, texting is always an option.
While ideally we would be able to have these kinds of discussions in person, its understandably daunting. So know this: Texting your partners that you have herpes does not make you a coward. It does not make you less than someone who chooses to disclose in person. For many, texting is its own type of comfort zone.
“Communication is hard. No matter how strong a relationship is, theres something about being vulnerable that tends to make us stressed and uncertain.”
You might say something like this:
Hey . I really like you and the time weve spent together. Before it becomes something physical, I want to let you know that I have genital herpes . Ive learned that the stigma is more difficult than the infection itself. I understand that you may have some questions and uncertainties, and Im happy to share some resources that have helped me.
One benefit of texting is that you can give your partners links to helpful articles right when you disclose. Here are some other helpful articles you can consider sending them:
How To Tell Someone You Have Herpes
You dont want a diagnosis to change your love life. Still, a huge part of coming to terms with herpes is its impact on your relationships. Maybe youve had it for some time and are dating again, or maybe youve just found out and need to break the news. Read on for useful tips to make it easier to tell someone you have herpes.
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But Not Too Much Information
You never need to justify why you have an STI. Do not feel like you have to explain how you got it, or from whom. Asking someone how they contracted an STI is like asking how many sexual partners theyve hadits invasive and a little judgmental. It is one thing to volunteer that information, particularly if its a story you want to share. But youre allowed to keep your past off limits. When a date pries into that part of my story, I gently say, Thats something Id rather not talk about. Your partner has the right to know information relevant to his or her safetythats why youre telling them about your STI in the first place. Sharing anything more than that is entirely up to you.
What Are You Saying To Them
Explain that herpes is way more common than people realizeâan estimated 776,000 people in the U.S. get new infections each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, 45 million people ages 12 and older, or one out of five of the total adolescent and adult population, is infected with HSV-2.
Tell them that 80-90% of people who have genital herpes have NOT been properly diagnosed â and it is possible that they might already have the virus and not know it. And even if they donât have it, odds are very high that many of their previous sexual partners carried the virus for genital herpes, even if they didnât know it and were not showing any symptoms. You might recommend that he/she get tested.
Sleeping with someone who has genital herpes does NOT mean that you are automatically going to get it, too. Most people with genital herpes are shedding the virus only a small percent of the time. Let your partner know the facts about herpes transmission rates.
There are many couples in which one partner has genital herpes and the other partner does not. Although there are no absolute guarantees, but you can take the necessary precautions, the chances of spreading the herpes virus to your partner are reduced. Genital herpes does not mean abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex.
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