Coping and support
Finding out that you have genital herpes can cause embarrassment, shame and anger, among other emotions. You may be suspicious or resentful of your partner if you think he or she "gave" you the infection. Or you might fear rejection by your current partner or future partners.
What you're feeling is normal. Here are healthy ways to cope with having genital herpes:
- Communicate with your partner. Be open and honest about your feelings. Trust your partner and believe what he or she tells you. Don't assign blame. Genital herpes can lie dormant in your body for years, so it's often difficult to determine when you became infected.
- Educate yourself. Talk with your doctor or a counselor to learn how to live with the condition and minimize your chances of infecting others. Learn about your treatment options and how to manage outbreaks.
- Join a support group. Look for a group in your area or online so that you can talk about your feelings and learn from others' experiences.
The suggestions for preventing genital herpes are the same as those for preventing other sexually transmitted infections: Abstain from sexual activity or limit sexual contact to only one person who is infection-free. Short of that, you can:
- Use, or have your partner use, a latex condom during every sexual contact
- Avoid intercourse if either partner has an outbreak of herpes in the genital area or anywhere else
If you're pregnant and know you have genital herpes, tell your doctor. If you think you might have genital herpes, ask to be tested for it.
Your doctor may recommend that you start taking herpes antiviral medications late in pregnancy to try to prevent an outbreak around the time of delivery. If you're having an outbreak when you go into labor, your doctor will probably suggest a cesarean section to reduce the risk of passing the virus to your baby.
May 18, 2017
- Genital herpes: CDC detailed fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm. Accessed Jan. 19, 2017.
- Klausner JD, et al., eds. Genital herpes. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2007. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
- Albrecht MA. Epidemiology, clinical manifestations and diagnosis of genital herpes simplex virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
- Longo DL, et al., eds. Herpes simplex virus infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecologic problems FAQ054. Genital herpes. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Genital-Herpes. Accessed Jan. 19, 2017.