Living (and dating) with herpes - BBC Three
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This allows both people to work off a little nervous energy at the same time. Try to be natural and spontaneous. If you find yourself whispering, mumbling, or looking at the floor, stop for a moment and try to speak calmly and clearly. Look your partner in the face.
Your delivery affects your message. They are not intended to be regarded as scripts. Have you ever had a cold sore? The reason I ask is that cold sores are caused by a type of virus. I have the virus. Only instead of getting a cold sore on my mouth, I get one in my genital area. Can we talk now?My Experience Dating a Herpes Positive
Last year, I found out that I had contracted genital herpes. This is not a confession or a lecture, simply the sharing of information between two people.
Avoid negative words and keep the dialogue simple and factual: Could we talk about what this means for us? You might even be surprised to learn that your partner has been equally concerned about telling you that they have genital herpes or another sexual infection.
In fact, the probability of this is reasonably high, given the statistics on HSV. Realistic and unrealistic expectations People may just need a little time to assimilate the information. This is where having good written information helps. Consider giving them reading material or referring them to a Sexual Health Centre, the Herpes Helpline 11 12 13 or the herpes website www.
Whatever the reaction, try to be flexible. Remember that it took you time to adjust as well. Negative reactions are often no more than the result of misinformation.
Living (and dating) with herpes
It takes a lot more than the occasional aggravation of herpes to destroy a sound relationship. Some people react negatively no matter what you say or how you say it. Others might focus more energy on herpes than on the relationship.
These people are the exception, not the rule. This is not a reflection on you. You are not responsible for their reaction.
If your partner is unable to accept the facts about herpes, encourage him or her to speak with a medical expert or counsellor. The majority of people will react well.
They will respect the trust you demonstrate in sharing a personal confidence with them. With the proper approach and information, herpes can be put into perspective: Regarding the relationship overall, know that you can have the same level of intimacy and sexual activity that any couple can. It is true that in an intimate sexual relationship with a person who has herpes oral or genitalthe risk of contracting herpes will not be zero, but while there is a possibility of contracting herpes this is a possibility for any sexually active person.
And the person may unwittingly already have been exposed to the herpes virus in a previous relationship. All relationships face challenges, most far tougher than herpes. Good relationships stand and fall on far more important issues — including communication, respect and trust.
Whether or not this relationship works out, you have enlightened someone with your education and experience about herpes, correcting some of the myths about herpes that cause so much harm.
Living with Herpes: Dating, Treatment, and Intimacy with HSV-1 and 2
You have removed the shroud of silence that makes it so difficult for others to speak. And you have confronted a personal issue in your life with courage and consideration.
What it means for Partners Your partner has genital herpes. Your support is very important in helping you and your partner to understand what this means. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the herpes infection. In the meantime, here are answers to some questions you may have. What is Genital Herpes? Genital herpes is a common infection generally transmitted through sexual contact. It is caused by one of two members of a family of viruses which also include the viruses causing chickenpox and shingles, and glandular fever.
Usually, genital herpes is caused by infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 HSV-2and studies suggest that in some countries, one in five people are infected with this virus. Genital herpes, for most people, is an occasionally recurrent, sometimes painful condition for which effective treatment is now available. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of catching genital herpes, regardless of their gender, race or social class.
How has my Partner caught Genital Herpes? Genital herpes can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. It can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. HSV-2 infection is usually passed on during vaginal or anal sex. HSV-1 is usually transmitted by oral sex mouth to genital contact. If your partner has only just been diagnosed as having genital herpes, this does not necessarily mean that he or she has been unfaithful to you, or sexually promiscuous in the past.
Your partner may have caught genital herpes from you.
So it is very easy for you to have unwittingly transmitted the infection to your partner. The symptoms of the infection vary greatly between individuals — it might be totally unnoticeable in you, but cause severe blistering in your partner.
Since the genital herpes virus can be transmitted through oral sex as well as vaginal sex, it is also possible that your partner caught the virus from a cold sore on your mouth or face.
Alternatively, your partner may have contracted the herpes virus from a previous sexual partner, perhaps even several years ago. The herpes virus can remain inactive in the body for long periods, so this may be the first time it has caused symptoms.
What are the symptoms of Genital Herpes? If your partner is having a first episode of genital herpes, he or she is likely to feel generally unwell and have fever, headache, and general bone and muscle aches, as well as irritation in the genitals.
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This may last for several days, during or after which reddened areas may appear on the genitals. These may develop into painful blisters. The blisters then burst, generally to leave sores which gradually heal, usually without scarring.
The severity of this first herpes episode varies between individuals, but for some people it may be severe and last for up to three weeks if not treated. These symptoms should quickly resolve with treatment. The doctor should have given your partner a course of antiviral treatment. This is an effective medicine which, although it does not cure genital herpes, can speed recovery and reduce the severity of the herpes episode. There are also other steps which your partner can take to relieve the pain of genital herpes.
However, for many people who have genital herpes, the physical symptoms are far outweighed by the emotional stress relating to the diagnosis. There are many misconceptions about genital herpes, including the belief that it is associated with promiscuity, and these have given it a reputation which may cause your partner to feel angry and shocked by the diagnosis.
Anxiety, guilt, loss of assertiveness and fear of rejection are also common emotions. Your support can be very important in helping your partner to deal with these feelings and to minimise the effect of genital herpes on his or her life.
How do I know if I have Genital Herpes? Until recently, diagnosis could only be made by clinical symptoms and swabs from an active herpes episode. However, there are commercially available blood tests becoming available which can distinguish between herpes simplex virus type 1 HSV-1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 HSV-2 antibodies. The time taken to develop antibodies is usually two to six weeks after infection, but can be up to six months. It is also important to know that false positives and false negatives are common in these tests.
Because of the limitations of a blood test to diagnose herpes, it is recommended you discuss the implications of the test with someone who has experience with them. If you think you might be showing signs of the infection, consult your doctor. Do the symptoms of Genital Herpes return?
The symptoms of genital herpes may reappear from time to time. This is because once the herpes virus is acquired, it stays permanently in the body.
Dating With Herpes: How to Tell Your Partner - Health
Most of the time it remains inactive, but every so often it may reactivate and cause another outbreak. Each individual is different — some people never have a recurrence; others may have recurrences several times a year. However, recurrent outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first herpes episode. Certain events or situations can trigger recurrences, and you may be able to help your partner avoid or reduce the trigger factors, which may include stress at work or home, fatigue, ill health, loss of sleep, friction due to sexual intercourse, and menstruation in women.
If your partner has frequent or severe episodes of genital herpes, or if the recurrent outbreaks are causing a lot of anxiety for your partner, then he or she may benefit from suppressive therapy taking oral antiviral tablets continuouslywhich prevents or reduces recurrences.
What can we do to reduce my chances of getting the Herpes infection? If you take the necessary precautions, the chances of getting the herpes virus from your partner are reduced. Genital herpes does not mean abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex. The continued use of condoms in a long-term relationship is a personal decision that only the couple can make.
Most find that as the importance of the HSV infection in their relationship is seen in perspective, that condom use becomes less relevant if this is the only reason condoms are being used. However, most couples choose to avoid genital skin-to-skin contact during an active episode of herpes because this is when the herpes virus is most readily transmitted.
This period includes the time from when your partner first has warning signs of an outbreak, such as a tingling or burning in the genitals, until the last of the sores has healed. Also, sexual activity prolongs the healing of the episode.
Herpes transmission risk is increased if there are any breaks in the skin. For example, if you have thrush or small abrasions from sexual intercourse, often due to insufficient lubrication. It can be helpful to use a lubricant specifically for sexual intercourse and avoid sex if you have thrush. Sexual lubricant is helpful right at the start of sexual activity. Sores in other areas — such as the buttocks and thighs — can be just as contagious as those in the genital area, and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with such sores during sex.
At other times, there is still a small risk of transmitting the herpes infection through a process known as asymptomatic shedding, even if your partner is showing no signs of genital herpes. This risk can be reduced significantly if a person with herpes takes suppressive oral antiviral treatment.
If you or your partner has a cold sore, it is advisable to avoid oral sex as this can spread the herpes virus to the genitals.
You cannot catch genital herpes by sharing cups, towels or bath water, or from toilet seats. You can still cuddle, share a bed, or kiss. Where can I get more information and advice? After you have read this booklet and discussed genital herpes with your partner, you might have specific questions or concerns about herpes.
Continue to go back to your doctor or counsellor until all your queries about genital herpes are answered. Sexual Health Clinics also provide confidential free treatment, management and information.
In some areas, there are local genital herpes support groups that can be a valuable source of information and support. Controlling recurrent Genital Herpes: Aciclovir has been used for this indication for a number of years now and found to be highly effective in controlling herpes recurrences. Some people with genital herpes have identified factors which may influence frequency or severity of recurrences. Factors such as stress, diet and lifestyle may be worth considering when looking at ways of managing herpes in your life.
Each case is individual and what works for one may not work for another. Frequent or severe recurrences of genital herpes infection may interfere with normal work and social activities, and cause disruption to your sex life. However, there are steps which you can take to reduce outbreaks and help bring the herpes virus under control.
This section explains what you can do and answers some other questions which you may have about living with genital herpes. Recurrences Once you have acquired the herpes simplex virus HSV-2 it remains permanently resident in your body, living in a structure called the dorsal root ganglion, which is part of the nervous tissue located near to the base of the spinal column.
It spreads down the nerve to break out on the skin from time to time. Most of the time it is inactive, but every so often something happens to reactivate it, which causes the symptoms you recognise. Sometimes the herpes virus can reactivate and be shed without recognisable herpes symptoms asymptomatic shedding.
It is not known exactly why the herpes virus becomes active again.