Safe Sex When Infected With Herpes

Protect your partner from genital herpes, no matter how few outbreaks you get. You may be at risk of spreading the disease, even when you’re not having an outbreak. Although the herpes virus is most contagious during an outbreak, it can be active on the surface of the skin without showing any signs or causing any symptoms.

  • Do not have sexual contact when you get a genital herpes outbreak or think you are about to get one.
  • Don’t touch genital herpes sores, and if you accidentally touch one, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. Take extra care not to touch your eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals after touching sores, as these areas are particularly sensitive to herpes infection.
  • Get tested for other STDs. Even if your partner also has genital herpes, you should know everything about his or her sexual health. Some studies show that people who have genital herpes are at higher risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and other STDs; so it’s important to take all precautions to protect yourself and your partner from additional diseases.
  • Avoid any sexual contact when your partner is having an active outbreak of genital herpes or experiencing symptoms such as sores or blisters.
  • Condoms can only help reduce the risk of spreading herpes if they cover all the infected skin. Using a spermicidal (sperm-killer) cream or jelly in the vagina, along with condoms may also help prevent the spread of herpes.
  • The use of latex condoms is recommended during all sexual contacts, even when no symptoms are present, as it is still possible to transmit the virus in the absence of symptoms.

Remember that many people with herpes do not have symptoms or do not recognize symptoms. Therefore, you may wish to get tested to see if you already have HSV antibodies. If you test positive for the same type of herpes your partner has, you may not need to take precautions.

If one partner in a couple has been infected with the genital herpes virus and the other has not, it may be appropriate for the partner with genital herpes to consider suppressive antiviral therapy.

The sure way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with uninfected partners when lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk.

Genital Herpes and Long-term Relationships

Genital herpes does not have to stand in the way of having a long-term relationship and healthy and satisfying sex life. Taking precautions against sexually transmitted diseases is something that each couple needs to sort out themselves.

You should be aware that if you are in a long-term relationship with somebody who has genital herpes, there is a chance that you will be infected as well, even if you are extremely careful.

Learn all you can about genital herpes, and discuss what you learn with your partner.