If you have herpes, and are planning to become sexually active with someone new, you owe it to them and to yourself to be honest about your own infection. You can spread the infection even if your virus is dormant and you have no open sores. Try practicing telling with a trusted friend or in front of a mirror. And stay calm. Keep your words simple and clear, and be prepared to answer any questions.
In general, those with herpes find that with time and a better understanding of the disease, telling new partners becomes easier. They also discover that herpes doesn’t affect their intimate relationships and sex lives as much as they originally feared. Unprotected sex is no guarantee of protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Most sexually transmitted diseases can be spread via sex.
To protect yourself, make sure your partner uses a condom if you’re performing sex; if he’s performing sex on you or if you’re having sex with a woman, use a condom. You can get them in some medical supply stores. They provide a barrier during sex. The best protection against any type of sexually transmitted disease is a latex condom. However, it doesn’t provide 100 percent protection against STDs–only abstinence does. If you use a condom, make sure you use it properly. Human error causes more condom failures than manufacturing errors. Use a new condom with each sexual act. Carefully handle it so you don’t damage it with you fingernails, teeth or other sharp objects.
Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms. Ensure adequate lubrication during intercourse. No one test screens for all STDs. Some require a vaginal exam and Pap smear; others a blood or urine test. Just because you have a negative test doesn’t mean you don’t have the disease. Chlamydia, for instance, may travel far up into your reproductive tract, so your health care professional is unable to obtain a culture. Or your body may not have developed enough antibodies to a virus like HIV or HPV to turn up in a blood test.
Still, it’s important to ask your health care professional to regularly test you for STDs if you’re sexually active in a non-monogamous relationship (or have the slightest concern about your partner’s fidelity). You can get tested at your health department, community clinic, private physician or planned parenthood. While some STDs may present with symptoms such as sores or ulcers or discharge, most, unfortunately, have no symptoms.
Women are even more likely than men to have STDs without symptoms. Women are also more likely to develop serious complications from STDs. You can’t always tell if you or a partner has a STD just by looking. Don’t rely on a partner’s self reporting and assume that will prevent you from acquiring an STD; many infected persons do not know they have a problem. They may think symptoms are caused by something else, such as yeast infections, friction from sexual relations or allergies. Educate yourself about your own body and, in turn, learn about your own individual risk for contracting an STD. One way to do this is to schedule an examination with a health care provider who can sit down with you and help you learn the principles for staying safe and sexually healthy.
Don’t allow fear, embarrassment or ignorance to jeopardize your future. Sexually transmitted diseases are particularly common among adolescents. And it’s an issue kids are concerned about. Parents can play a large role in their adolescent’s behavior, both in terms of the behavior you model yourself and in terms of the communication between you and your teen. Make sure your daughter has regular visits with a competent gynecologist and that your son sees a medical professional who specializes in adolescent health at least once a year if for nothing else than some plain talk about STDs and pregnancy. And talk to your kids. Study after study proves that when parents talk to their kids about sexual issues, their kids listen. Don’t worry that talking about sex is the same as condoning it; hundreds of studies dispute that theory.
In fact, studies show that when parents talk about sex, children are more likely to talk about it themselves, to delay their first sexual experiences and to protect themselves against pregnancy and disease when they do have sex. Unfortunately, there is no known “cure” for herpes. Use of a condom is recognized to be the most reliable method to prevent transmission of the virus. However, effective treatments are available which can reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, stop viral reproduction, and reduce viral load, all of which greatly mitigate outbreaks and allow sufferers to control the condition.
Acyclovir is the most popular drug prescribed for herpes. However, the emergence of aciclovir-resistant virus strains has created the need for the development of new effective antiviral agents. New anti-herpetic chemical drug compounds have been identified, but they have significant adverse effects when consumed and HSV has again developed drug resistance to these new compounds.
As new chemical drug options are not viable, alternative antiviral options are being investigated with great interest. Recent scientific studies of medicinal antiviral plant extracts show very encouraging results, and have sparked a new methodology for treating herpes. Studies of these antiviral extracts demonstrate that many of these compounds exhibit significant anti-herpetic activity. Several actually inactivate HSV with great effectiveness. These antiviral extracts represent new effective treatment options for therapeutic use as virucidal agents for recurring herpes infections.