What to Do if Your Partner Has Genital Herpes

A partner who has genital herpes needs support and acceptance. It took a lot of courage for your partner to tell you, and it means they care about your well-being and values your trust. “No good deed goes unpunished" is often a harsh fact of life. But don’t let it be that way in the relationship.

Of course, your feelings and concerns matter, too. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of having sex with your partner again, or becoming sexually intimate for the first time, you’re entitled to feel that way.

But instead of declaring the sexual part of your relationship over or out of the question, think of ways you can be intimate without risking infection. You can reduce the risk of becoming infected through sexual intercourse by using condoms and avoiding sex when your partner has symptoms. There will always be some risk, even if you practice safer sex, but you can minimize it as much as possible.

Get Informed About Genital Herpes

Educate yourself about genital herpes. You’ll find out that it’s not as serious as it may seem, and that couples can and do have wonderful, sexually fulfilling relationships, even if one partner has genital herpes.

Sometimes, people in long-term relationships suspect that their partner has been cheating when they are diagnosed. That’s not necessarily true — your partner could have been infected years or decades before you met.

Also, consider the possibility that you gave your partner herpes. Millions of people live with genital herpes without having a clue that they’re infected. In fact, health experts estimate that 90% of those who are infected in the United States don’t know it. A herpes infection doesn’t always cause obvious sores on the genitals. In many cases, it causes no noticeable symptoms at all. The CDC says that testing sex partners of people with herpes might be useful even if they have no symptoms. If you are pregnant and think that you or your partner have herpes, talk to your doctor about testing. Herpes infections can be life-threatening in babies.

Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control. Fleming, et al. The New England Journal of Medicine, Oct. 16, 1997. The American Social Health Association’s National Herpes Resource Center. Warren, T. and Warren, R. The Updated Herpes Handbook. Portland Press, 2002.

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