If you’re involved with someone who has genital herpes, it can be a difficult decision as to whether or not you want to continue the relationship. There is a risk involved once you decide to become physically intimate. Hopefully this person was honest with you before anything seriously physical occurred and now it’s a matter of how interested you are in developing an intimate relationship with this person. Perhaps you have already decided to stay together, but the question now is:
How do you protect yourself from contracting your partner’s genital herpes?
- The first thing to do is some research from reputable medical resources. Find out the facts about the condition and your risk of becoming infected. Using a condom is the best way to avoid infection during intercourse. It is also important to restrict sexual contact to when no symptoms are present or to avoid sexual activity altogether if a breakout is occurring. Know that the virus is contagious even if there aren’t any physical signs or symptoms, only to a lesser degree. With proper protection and avoiding sex during breakouts, you stand the best chance of avoiding infection.
What should you do if you believe you have contracted your partner’s genital herpes?
- If you believe you have been infected, get tested right away. If you have any aberration that you believe may be a sore, the doctor can examine it and find out if it is in fact herpes. A blood test is also available that can determine the presence of antibodies that work to fight the condition. If the results are positive for an antibody called HSV-2, then you have probably contracted the infection. If the antibody called HSV-1 is detected, you may have either the oral or genital variety of herpes.
- Some people want to know about serious physical problems the disease will cause their partner, but the impact is generally emotional. Though outbreaks can be itchy or painful, they aren’t life-threatening. With pregnancy, however, genital herpes is a huge issue, something to consider if you were planning to have children.
- For those with HIV and other conditions, genital herpes can be much more serious. Also, many people with this condition reportedly struggle with depression.
To help your partner cope with having genital herpes, it may help to know that genital herpes is actually very common. Approximately 16% of the U.S population (age 14 to 49) is infected. If your partner is still struggling with it, however, support groups and mental health professionals who specialize in sexual health are available. Couples counseling is also a good option if the condition is having a negative impact on your relationship.