Safe Sex With Herpes


Herpes can be one of the most confusing sexually transmitted infections and it usually comes with a lot of questions. Can I still have sex? Will I infect someone else? What about oral sex? Are condoms enough protection against transmission?

A diagnosis of Herpes can be devastating and it can leave people thinking their sex life is over. But the truth is, Herpes is manageable and it is usually the fears associated with having Herpes that prevent us from talking about it with our potential or current sexual partners instead of educating ourselves and them and learning how to deal with it.

It is estimated that 50-80% of the population of the United States is infected with one of the two strains of the Herpes virus. Many do not show symptoms or mistake the blisters associated with an outbreak for something else. Testing for Herpes is usually not included in the standard STD screening and many people do not realize that or think to ask for it. Type 1 Herpes is Oral Herpes where you have cold sores on or around your mouth and lips. Type 2 is Genital Herpes. If you have Type 1 Herpes and have an active lesion, you can infect someone by kissing them and you can also infect someone by performing oral sex on them. If you have Type 2, someone can become infected by having sexual contact, oral, vaginal, penile, or anal with you during an out break. Also because of viral shedding, which is where you don’t have any symptoms but the virus is still present on the skin, you can infect someone with genital herpes if you are not having an out break.

If you are infected with Herpes, you should practice safe sex to avoid infecting your sexual partners. Safe sex practices include the following:
• Using latex or polyurethane condoms during sex. This means all types of sex, penile-vaginal, anal, and oral.
• There are condoms made for oral sex that protect against disease but not have a bad taste. Check out flavored condoms and those without spermicide.
• Use a dental dam for performing oral sex on a woman. This creates a barrier between your mouth and her genitals.
• Never have sex of any kind when you have an outbreak.
• Wash with soap and water after a sexual encounter.
• Ask to be tested specifically for Herpes.

Most importantly talk to your partner. If you are infected your have a responsibility to protect your partner from infection.

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