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Dating with Herpes - Dos and Don'ts

The information provided herein does not constitute an expert or medical advice, nor intended to replace such advice.

Sexual Health

*Written by Hannah Kingston on September 1, 2021 *

Let’s face it, there’s some considerable stigma around herpes, and sexually transmitted infections, but that doesn’t mean that dating with herpes is impossible.

In fact you can have a happy and healthy sex life whether you have genital or oral herpes. There are just a couple of things you need to think about when it comes to dating with herpes.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about dating with herpes.

Dating with herpes - dos and don’ts

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Dating with herpes | Do’s

Let’s start with some of the things you can do when you have herpes to put both yourself and your partner(s) at ease.

Process your diagnosis before telling other people about it

Don’t feel like you need to tell people about your diagnosis until you’re ready. It can be overwhelming to find out that you have oral or genital herpes. There is no rush to speak about it until you are ready. However, if you are choosing not to speak about it, ensure that you are not engaging in sexual activity with someone who does not know about your diagnosis.

Arm yourself with the facts when it comes to herpes

As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. The more facts you have at your disposal, the better. Read up as much as you can about both oral and genital herpes, what triggers outbreaks, how outbreaks can be managed and the signs to look out for around outbreaks.

Read: Herpes - Everything You Need To Know

Decide on the right time to have the conversation

When you choose to speak to your partner about your diagnosis, choose a time when both of you are relaxed and are in a calm environment. You want to feel supported by them, while being able to provide them with the facts of your diagnosis in a clear way. Make sure that you have enough time to talk about it, and do not place blame on yourself for your diagnosis.

Pay attention to the signs and symptoms of an outbreak

Once you and your partner are consensually choosing to get intimate, it’s important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of a herpes outbreak. Read: Herpes symptoms.

Once you have a good idea of the signs and symptoms of herpes, you will be better able to anticipate outbreaks.

Keep the conversation open with your sexual partner

Be as honest as you can with your partner. They love you for you, and they are not here to judge you. If there are times when you are not able to have sex, they should be understanding of this. Make sure that you are both on the same page, and you are keeping those lines of communication open.

Pencil in time for non-sexual bonding activities with your partner

It’s not all about sex! There will be times during outbreaks when you will not be able to have sex, and that’s okay. If you suspect that there is an upcoming outbreak, pencil in non-sexual activities that you both enjoy.

Consider your treatment options

Though herpes cannot be cured, it can be managed very effectively. There are a number of effective treatments that you can use to manage both oral and genital herpes.

Read: Herpes treatment

Remember that herpes is extremely common and you are not alone

Herpes is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. You are not alone, and this is not something you should be ashamed of. Herpes is very easily transmitted from one person to another, and it’s very likely that there is nothing you could have done in that moment to prevent that transmission. Remember that you are not alone.

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Dating with herpes | Don’ts

Now, it’s time to run through some of the things that you shouldn’t do if you receive a herpes diagnosis. Some of these items may seem obvious but that is not the case for everyone.

Do not ignore signs and symptoms pre or post diagnosis

If you are experiencing the symptoms of herpes, make sure that you get tested as soon as possible. If you have received a diagnosis and you are experiencing an outbreak, ensure that you get treatment as soon as you can to slow the outbreak down and lower your risk of transmission.

Do not keep it a secret

Herpes is a notifiable disease. You cannot have unprotected sex with other people without disclosing that there is a risk of transmission involved. It is also important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if someone knowingly put you at risk? This question is not here to shame or embarrass you in any way but having unprotected sex with an active outbreak is not responsible.

Don’t close yourself off to romantic opportunities

Don’t close yourself off to romantic opportunities, it is possible to have a very rich sex life despite herpes. The right person for you won’t care about your diagnoses and nor should they. By using protection ​​​​​​, anticipating outbreaks and keeping the lines of communication open and honest, you can have a similar sex life to someone who is not living with herpes.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexual transmitted disease caused commonly by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and, increasingly, the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1).

The symptoms of genital herpes can manifest as a primary or recurrent infection, and they can include:

  • A cluster of small, fluid blisters that can be itchy or painful
  • The blisters can progress into sores and scabs before healing
  • Intense itching or tingling in the affected area before the blisters develop
  • The blisters typically appear on the genitals, anus, or groin
  • Painful or burning sensation while you urinate
  • Flu-like symptoms

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What is oral herpes?

Oral herpes, or “cold sores”/ ”fever blisters” as is commonly called, is a type of herpes commonly located around the lips, but which can locate as well on other parts of the face such as the upper lip, inside the nose, the chin or the cheek (oral-facial herpes).

The period between the contact with the virus and the symptoms (incubation period) is short as it lasts on average 4 days but can range between 2-12 days.

How triggers herpes?

Some of the common triggers for herpes include:

  • Genital stimulation
  • Menstrual periods
  • Emotional stress
  • Physical exertion
  • Injury
  • Illness
  • Exposure to cold
  • Sunlight exposure
  • Surgery
  • Low immunity
  • Fatigue

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What is the treatment for herpes?

According to a study published by the NCBI, “acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir are the most commonly used oral antivirals in the treatment of oral herpes.

Genital herpes is treated episodic and/or suppressive therapy may be used to help manage the condition. Suppressive therapy involves daily oral antiviral agents to prevent future recurrences and is typically reserved for patients with frequent and/or severe outbreaks.

Read: Herpes treatment

**References **

Hannah Kingston

Hannah Kingston

Dec 11, 2022

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