Living with Herpes

Being diagnosed with herpes, in particular genital herpes can be something of a shock for most people. Many people are uncomfortable discussing sexual health matters with even their closest friends or family doctor but there a numbers of avenues to pursue for help and guidance.

Counselling through your doctor or specialist clinic is usually available and it is important to get as much information about herpes, it’s treatment and management as possible.

If you or your partner are reluctant to discuss the matter or come to terms with the diagnosis and trained medical councillor can provide expert guidance.

The experience and support of other people with herpes can be invaluable. Just talking to someone with the same problems and issues can help keep things in perspective.

There may be local self-help groups that your doctor or clinic can put you in touch with. Failing that there are many online support forums you can join, usually for free.

Remember if your partner is diagnosed with genital herpes your help and support will be critical in helping them manage their treatment. And helping them deal with their condition directly affects you also.

If you have only just been diagnosed as having genital herpes and are in a monogamous relationship, this does not necessarily mean that your partner has been unfaithful to you, or sexually promiscuous in the past.

It is possible for a person to carry the virus without knowing that they have it, since up to 80% of people who are infected with HSV-2 show no signs of the infection. So it is very easy for a person to unwittingly transmit the infection to their partner.

Alternatively, you may have contracted the virus from a previous sexual partner, perhaps even several years ago. The virus can remain inactive in the body for long periods, so this may be the first time it has caused symptoms.

You may find that the honesty and trust brought about by discussing genital herpes strengthens your relationship and brings you closer together.

Herpes often brings about some changes in a couple’s sex life, such as abstaining from oral sex or intercourse during outbreaks. For most people with herpes this occurs only a few times a year. There is a small risk of spreading the virus in between outbreaks but condoms and certain treatments can help to minimize this risk significantly.

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