Herpes is a contagious viral infection that remains permanently in the nerve cells of its host. Many people are not aware they have it, because they rarely experience the symptoms or because they attribute the symptoms to something else.
During an active herpes outbreak, sores usually appear on the lips region of the face, and on or around the genital area.
After herpes diagnosis, a lot of people may be worried about how they are being perceived by others, and usually get overly terrified about spreading the herpes virus to their future partners.
However, the simple fact is that most of the time, dating with herpes is not half as scary as worrying about it.
You Are Not Your Disease
Most people don’t date solely because they want to have sex, but mostly because they like each other and find each other exciting and attractive. When all these things are in place, a herpes diagnosis often doesn’t seem to matter much. If you really have feelings for someone, then dating with herpes can be just something you have to work with. Just like some of us have to work with a partner who snores.
One of the most difficult aspect about dating with herpes is deciding when to tell your status to your partner. Generally speaking, it is always a better idea to do so before you have sex.
If you wait to tell your partner that you have herpes only after you’ve had sexual intercourse in whatever form, the revelation may not feel genuine.
It will feel more like a betrayal, because you would have denied them the opportunity to make an informed decision about the inherent risk.
If someone is really interested in you, telling them about your herpes status shouldn’t change anything, and they probably will still be interested in you afterward.
It just helps to tell them earlier, because it makes it less likely that they will feel exposed or betrayed
The truth is that herpes is a very common infection. Genital herpes affects at least 20% of the population and oral herpes affects up to 40% of human beings at some point during their lives.
This means that most people already know people with herpes, and they themselves may even have it.
As for potential partners, you might want to ask them if they have been tested for the virus, because if they haven’t been tested, they may have the virus and not know about it.
Ways to Tell Your Dating Partners You Have Herpes
The most challenging aspect of living with herpes is telling a dating or sexual partner that you have the virus. However, you can use the following ways to disclose your condition to a prospective partner:
- Utilize an STD advertisements on TV or online as an opportunity to introduce, and subsequently discuss about sexually transmitted diseases and herpes.
- You can use true stories on some articles that you read about sex and STDs, in newspaper, magazines or the internet to introduce the discussion. Share such article and see how your partner responds to it. Positive response from him is an opportunity to bring up the subject of having herpes.
- If you find it so difficult to bring up the subject yourself, you can buy a health or medical pamphlet or print out one yourself on herpes or related herpes topics like medications for herpes. You then ‘casually’ leave it in your car or table. When your partner sees that, he or she will most likely inquire about it and why it is there, then you use that opportunity to have “the talk.”
Ways to Reduce Chances of Transmitting Herpes During Sex
The risk for potential partners is one of the things that scares people when they are thinking about dating with herpes. They are actually concerned about the chances of spreading the herpes to someone they care about.
In reality, this is a legitimate concern, and fortunately, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of spreading herpes during sex.
Suppressive therapy (where people with the herpes virus can take antiviral medication daily to hold the virus in check so that it is less likely to break out), can lower the risk of transmission significantly.
It is just good for reducing the number and severity of outbreaks, and studies have shown that suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks by around 75% if you are on suppressive medication.
Also, for some other people, taking the suppressive antiviral medicines on a daily basis can prevent outbreaks altogether.
A study found that women on suppressive acyclovir (400 mg, taken twice per day) had a 94% reduction in subclinical shedding while on therapy. Similar study has also been done with famciclovir and valacyclovir, with similar reductions seen in both men and women.
Suppressive therapy has been studied in thousands of patients and it appears to be both safe and effective, and because the medications differ in their absorption rate and duration of effectiveness, dosages also vary with suppressive therapy treatment, ranging from one to two pills every day.
Secondly, using condoms consistently can also make a big difference in your partner’s risk of getting infected. Condoms don’t just make sexual intercourse safer, they also make it less likely for you to spread STIs of which herpes is classified as one. Indulging in safe sex is always a good choice.
Your Sex Life and Herpes
Many people with herpes may have concerns about their sex lives, and that is a perfectly normal feeling, but it does not mean that you can no longer have sex, it just means you need to take extra precaution and measures when you are having sexual intercourse or foreplay.
It is important to enlighten your partner about the inherent risks as there is still a chance that he or she may be infected even when there are no symptoms or signs of any herpes outbreak.
We have talked about condoms, but since the virus can be transmitted via skin to skin contact, condoms cannot always be expected to be a 100% effective.
There are two types of pain that women with herpes must learn to deal with, and that is the Physical Pain of herpes symptoms or outbreaks, and secondly, the Emotional Pain associated with the stigma of their threatened self-worth and self-esteem.
Finally, are you having difficult time dating after your diagnosis? PositiveSingles.com is an online dating forum dedicated to singles that are infected with STIs.