A Practical Approach to Living with Herpes
- Know the facts
- How do I tell someone (especially my partner) that I have genital herpes? (new page)
- The importance of self-esteem, adaptation and acceptance (new page)
- Commonly Asked Questions
Download a copy of the Herpes Free Diet and Lifestyle Guide for detailed Herpes Diet Advice.
This ebook is a reference written by Dr John Spurge N.D. which includes facts and tips on how you can manage and prevent herpes outbreaks safely and naturally through simple diet and lifestyle changes.
A diagnosis of genital herpes often comes as a shock. Many people do not feel comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual health issues and are sometimes afraid of things that they have limited knowledge or understanding of, such as herpes.
There are many avenues for help, reassurance and guidance. Below are resources that can offer help and support for people living with and affected by herpes:
Counseling for Herpes
Adequate information about genital herpes and the implications for the future are an important part of clinical management and treatment. Counseling offers a way of dealing with your concerns.
If you or your partner are finding it hard to come to terms with the news, need advice, guidance for the future, or just need to talk with someone a medical expert or counselor can help give you some direction.
Encourage yourself or your partner to speak with a medical expert or counselor.
Herpes Support Groups
The experience and support of other people with herpes can be extremely valuable. Have a look at our online support forum to see how other people deal with H. Just talking to someone else going through the same thing can help you put things into perspective.
Local Support groups for people with herpes exist in some countries and have the objective of providing support and education to people with herpes.
For anyone who feels isolated by genital herpes, self-help groups can provide a much-needed arena for open discussion and the exchange of information and ideas.
The more emotionally charged an issue, the more important it is to find out the facts. Most people know little or nothing about herpes. Frequently, what knowledge they have is colored by myth and misconception.
Having the correct information makes it easier for everyone concerned. Genital herpes is extremely common. In some countries, up to one in five people are infected with this virus, whether they know it or not.
Some basic facts that you should know:
- HSV can be passed on when one person has the virus present on the skin or mucous membrane and another person makes direct skin-to-skin contact with the live virus.
- The virus is likely to be present on the skin from the first sign of prodrome (tingling or itching where the outbreak usually occurs), until the sores have completely healed and new skin is present.
- There are likely to be certain periods of time (possibly only a few days out of the year) when the active virus might be on the skin, even though there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
- Always using latex condoms may possibly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus at these times.
- Herpes is very frequently transmitted by infected persons who do not know they are infected.
- Once diagnosed, a person generally is able to take the simple precautions necessary to protect partners – avoiding contact during prodrome or an outbreak and practicing safer sex when no symptoms are present.
Attitude and Self Esteem
- A positive attitude helps greatly, starting with a positive feeling towards oneself
- It is important for individuals to have time and space so that they can learn about their strengths and develop them
- For anyone who finds stress a particular problem or has trouble relaxing, there are specific techniques, such as meditation and courses on stress management, that can help.
Outbreaks and Recurrences
- A person who experiences recurrent genital herpes should try to get to know the pattern of their outbreaks, and may discover the particular circumstances that trigger an episode and learn to avoid them
- To gain relief from frequent recurrences check out our Herpes Treatment section. It has a list of different remedies that can help to speed healing and in some cases prevent recurrences.
What if my partner has genital herpes?
If your partner has genital herpes, your support may be very important in helping him or her deal with this condition, which can also directly affect you. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the infection.
- What is genital herpes?
- How does a person become affected by genital herpes?
- How will genital herpes affect our relationship?
- What are the symptoms?
- Do the symptoms return?
- What can my partner and I do to reduce the risk of transmission?
- Is there a cure?
- Can I catch this virus from toilets?
- How do I know if I have genital herpes?
- Where can I get more information and advice?
Genital herpes is a common infection generally transmitted through sexual contact. It is caused by one of two members of the herpes virus family, which also includes the viruses causing chickenpox, shingles, and glandular fever.
Genital herpes is usually caused by infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Genital herpes can also be caused by HSV-1, the virus which more usually causes facial herpes, including cold sores on the lips.
Genital herpes, for most people, is an occasionally recurrent, sometimes painful condition for which effective treatment is now available. Generally, it is not life-threatening and has no long-term repercussions on one’s general physical health.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of catching genital herpes, regardless of their gender, race or social class.
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 to the genital area by oral sex (mouth to genital contact).
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.
The symptoms of the infection vary greatly between individuals. It might be totally unnoticeable in one person, but cause severe blistering in their partner.
Since the genital herpes virus can be transmitted through oral sex as well as vaginal sex, it is also possible to have caught the virus from a cold sore on your partner’s mouth or face. It is possible to pass the virus on even if they did not have a cold sore present at the time of contact.
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. Or, previous symptoms may have been so slight that the herpes condition went unnoticed or was dismissed (e.g.. a mild rash, itching or tingling).
Because of the stigma wrongly attached to genital herpes, it has probably taken a great deal of courage for you to tell your partner that you have the infection. If you have not already told your partner and need advice on how to do this please click here.
You may find that the honesty and trust brought about by discussing genital herpes strengthens your relationship and brings you closer together. Support and understanding can help to overcome much of the anxiety that you may be feeling about genital herpes.
A good long-term relationship must be based always on honesty and trust. While some people may experience an unsupportive response, most have found their partners are both supportive and understanding.
If you are having your first episode of genital herpes, you are likely to feel generally unwell and have fever, headache, and general joint and muscle aches, as well as irritation in the genitals.
This may last for several days, during or after which reddened areas may appear on the genitals. These may develop into painful blisters, which then burst, leaving sores which gradually heal, usually without scarring.