The Emotional Side of Genital Herpes | Everyday Health
Genital herpes is manageable. You can have a normal life with good relationships. Millions of people with this common condition do just that. Genital herpes needn't be a barrier to a healthy sexual relationship with If you' re uncomfortable with the idea of having sex with your partner. The key facts about Herpes in relationships are that you should have This is because, when you have an outbreak, you can discuss it with your partner .. of genital herpes infection may interfere with normal work and social activities, and .
Most people find that their partners are both supportive and understanding. It is a common assumption to initially think that a person may base their judgement of you on the fact you have genital herpes. However, for most this is a minor skin infection.
People fear the possibility of rejection but the reality of this is that it rarely happens. Because fear of rejection is a concern, it leads some to question why they should risk talking about herpes.
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Accordingly, some people choose not to tell. Instead they abstain during herpes outbreaks, practice safe sex at other times, and hope for the best.
This strategy may have more disadvantages than advantages. First of all, you spend a lot of time and energy worrying that your partner is going to get herpes. For most people, the anxiety over not telling your partner you have herpes is worse than the telling itself.
On the other hand, by telling your partner you have herpes and allowing them to enter into the relationship with full knowledge of your infection, you reduce the likelihood of them becoming infected with herpes.
Excuses create distance between partners and often lead to misunderstanding and guesswork. Your partner might interpret your excuses in ways more detrimental to the relationship than an honest discussion of genital herpes would be. Inaccurate and stigmatising articles and advertising have contributed to many of us having a lot of negative beliefs related to herpes that make it difficult to convince ourselves that others would want to be with us. Accepting the fact that you have herpes and are still the same person you were before will make it easier to have a fulfilling relationship.
Getting the facts The more emotionally charged an issue, the more important it is to find out the facts. Most people know little or no facts about herpes. Frequently, what knowledge they have is coloured by myth and misconception. Having the correct information about herpes not only makes it easier for your partner, it makes it easier for you.
Following are some of the basic facts about herpes that might be important points to tell a partner. There is a lot of information about herpes. Have educational materials on hand for your partner to read.
Be prepared to answer their questions. The absence of symptoms does not mean a person has not got genital herpes. Herpes simplex virus HSV most often shows up as small blisters or sores on either the mouth cold sore or fever blisters or the genitals.
HSV can be passed on when one person has the herpes virus present on the skin and another person makes direct skin-to-skin contact with live herpes virus. The herpes 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 days when active herpes virus might be on the skin even though there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
Since they have not been diagnosed, they are unaware that they may be contagious from time to time. There is effective oral antiviral treatment for people with problematic genital herpes. Preparing to tell your Partner What you say and how you say it is going to depend on your own personal style.
Your attitude will influence how this news is received.
Psychologists have observed that people tend to behave the way you expect them to behave, and expecting rejection increases the chances of an unhappy outcome. How long should you know someone before you tell them? Allow the relationship to develop a little. There are good and bad times to bring up the topic of herpes.
Talking just prior to love-making is not a good idea either. The discussion could take place anywhere you feel safe and comfortable. Some people turn off the TV, take the phone off the hook, and broach the subject over a quiet dinner at home.
Others prefer a more open place, like walking in the park, so that their partner will feel free to go home afterwards to mull things over. 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? 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.
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. 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. 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.FACTS ABOUT HERPES & DATING , RELATIONSHIPS, LOVE & PREGNANCY!!!!
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. Most of the time it remains inactive, but every so often it may reactivate and cause another outbreak.
Keep this fact in mind and keep your language positive. Your attitude will also have a lot of influence on how the news is received. Try not to let the anticipation of a possible negative reaction affect the delivery of your message. It is what it is—a sexually transmitted infection. The bottom line is that sexual activity is a natural act that most everyone will have at some point in their lives. With sexual activity anywhere by anyone, there is some level of risk.
Preparing to Talk to Partner Before you talk about herpes and sexual health with a partner, make sure you are prepared to address any misinformation or misconceptions he or she might have. How well informed are you? Do you know the basic steps to reduce the risk to your partner? Do you know the facts about herpes? You want to feel confident and knowledgeable before you can explain the infection to someone else.
Be prepared with information from ASHA and other reliable sources. Once you feel ready to open the discussion, you might want to look for logical ways to broach the subject. Sometimes public service announcements about sexual health or subjects closely related can open doors to discussions about herpes.
So even though a movie trailer seems to provide the perfect lead in, a crowded theater is probably not the best venue. A few tips to consider: You are not lecturing or confessing. Remember your delivery and body language becomes your message, too. Expect your partner to be accepting and supportive. People tend to behave as you expect them to.
You can role-play with a friend and try out some conversation starters. How Will a Partner React? Whatever happens, try to be flexible. Remember when you first found out? It took you time to adjust, too. And, you may want to reconsider a relationship where you have to do all the emotional work. A safer sex discussion might help you find out if this partner is a good candidate for your love and attention. A few people are going to react negatively.