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Lifestyle Changes for Genital Herpes
Lifestyle changes can help with general health and maintaining quality of life.
People with genital herpes need to notify their partner(s) so they can be tested, and if necessary, treated. It doesn't mean they have genital herpes, only that they were exposed to it. These conversations may be uncomfortable, but are important for your health and the health of your partner. Doctors can provide reading material about genital herpes and its complications to pass to your partner.
Counseling is an integral part of living life with genital herpes. Having a lifelong condition can affect all aspects of life. Many people with genital herpes feel a range of emotions that can be difficult to manage.
Counseling and support groups can help with:
- Self-image and outlook
- Feelings of anger, stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Education—Learning how to manage the infection, medications, symptoms, and cues for new outbreaks.
- Behavior modification to avoid risky sexual behaviors.
- Learning proper and consistent condom use.
- Avoiding getting other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as HIV.
- Knowing the risks of neonatal herpes if you or your partner are planning to become pregnant.
Partners can also benefit from counseling. It's important for partners to have open communication and correct information.
Modify Your Sexual Activities
Sexual activity doesn't have to stop because of genital herpes. Find some time to talk to any future sexual partners about potential genital herpes exposure prior to engaging in sexual activity.
New adjustments will take some time to get used to. These include:
- Sexual spontaneity—You'll need to plan ahead and know when to be sexually active. Don't have sex during an outbreak.
- Always use a latex condom—Be aware genital herpes can be spread even with condom use. This is because the virus can exist on skin not covered by the condom.
Genital herpes increases the risk of future HIV infection. Lesions make it easier to transmit HIV from one person to another. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about HIV screening tests.
Special Precautions for Pregnancy
Pregnant women with genital herpes should make arrangements with the doctor before the baby is born. Antiviral medications can help prevent risk of transmission to child. A cesarean section can also help prevent herpes exposure to the baby during delivery.
Special Precautions for HIV Infection
HIV infection suppresses the immune system. For people with HIV, outbreaks of genital herpes can be more severe and long lasting. It is important to work with a doctor who specializes in treating people with HIV in order to get the best care possible.
Genital herpes—CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm. Updated February 13, 2013. Accessed October 16, 2014.
Herpes genitalis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 8, 2014. Accessed October 16, 2014.
Mindel A, Marks C. Psychological symptoms associated with genital herpes virus infections: epidemiology and approaches to management. CNS Drugs. 2005;19(4):303-312.
Neonatal herpes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 15, 2014. Accessed October 16, 2014.
Roberts C. Genital herpes in young adults: changing sexual behaviours, epidemiology and management. Herpes. 2005;12(1):10-13.
Beauman JG. Genital herpes: A review. Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(8):1527-1534.
Workowski KA, Berman S, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
- Reviewer: David Horn, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 10/16/2014