Herpes is Not The End of a Good Life
If a doctor tells a patient that he or she has herpes, it often feels like the death knell of a good and happy life, but it needn’t be the case. People who have Herpes Simplex 1 and 2 can live full and happy sex lives, even if just a little more carefully.
What is herpes, anyway?
Herpes is a virus that affects the skin or nervous system. It is present even when there are no outward symptoms and it can be transmitted from person to person even when there are no indications of infection. Indeed, a person who has herpes may not even know they have it.
Herpes Simplex-1 is usually noticed in outbreaks of sores around the mouth more commonly referred to as “fever blisters” because they seem to occur more often when a person is experiencing flu-like symptoms. Stress can also cause outbreaks. This type of herpes can be spread through contact and sharing items like toothbrushes and utensils.
Herpes Simplex-2 also may show with blisters and sores located around the mouth, rectum and genitals. Transmission usually occurs through sexual contact ( mouth to mouth, genital to mouth, or anal contact) with a person already infected with HSV-2. HSV-2 is often called Genital Herpes.
Symptoms for the viruses
Unfortunately, this virus can be transmitted even when no outbreak or other outward signs are present, so it is wise to take precautions to avoid transmitting or contracting this incurable condition. There are some physical symptoms that may help you know which form you have, but it is still best to get diagnosed and tested by a doctor.
Often times a person can be a carrier and show not outward signs, but is still able to transmit the virus. Some symptoms are rather mild, with a “cold sore” located near the lips. Genital herpes, or HSV-2, may show up with blisters around the mouth, anus, or genitals. These blisters may break and become quite painful for about 2 to 3 weeks during an outbreak. A person can actively spread their outbreaks by scratching the open sores and then touching another part of their own body that has an open sore or is a sensitive area of the body, such as the eyes.
How is Herpes Diagnosed?
If you suspect you have herpes a visit to the doctor is paramount. The doctor will perform a visual inspection of any sores that are present and may be able to confirm herpes is present that way. To get a better idea of which type a person has a sample from a sore can be taken and tested. Blood tests are also available for diagnosis.
You are not alone
It is important to understand that you are not alone with this virus and you are not a pariah. Every year more than 775,000 people contract herpes and it is common in the USA among people between the ages of 14 and 49. Both men and women can contract and transmit herpes.
Your sex life need not come to an end because you are infected with this incurable virus. Your doctor can help you understand your condition and how you can reduce outbreaks and reduce the chances of giving the virus to a sexual partner.
Condoms do help prevent transmission in genital contact, but are not effective for mouth to mouth contact, so keep that in mind. The best way to prevent transmission is sexual abstinence, but it is not optimal. The very best way to prevent contracting herpes while remaining sexually active is to remain in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
If you have herpes, either simplex 1 or 2, you should abstain from sexual contact during sex and avoid sharing utensils and toothbrushes during outbreaks. You also have a responsibility to tell your sexual partners that you have herpes and explain how to prevent transmission to their bodies.
Are there complications to protect against?
Although herpes is generally not dangerous or deadly, it can have some consequences that are unexpected. One such complication is when a woman is having an outbreak during a pregnancy or during childbirth. If your doctor is aware that you have herpes, they will take precautions during childbirth, such as provide caesarean birth rather than vaginal birth.
If a person develops herpes encephalitis it can be deadly if left untreated. It can also cause blindness if the person who has it scratches an open sore and then touches the eyes with the same hand. The best way to avoid these conditions is to avoid scratching the sores and to seek proper medical care.
If a person has a suppressed immune system, complication can arise. Proper medical treatment can reduce these complications. If a person has HIV/AIDS they may incur complications with herpes. Cancers patients who are undergoing chemotherapy are more vulnerable to herpes transmission and due to their suppressed immune systems; they may incur complications from herpes.
The bottom line with herpes
Although it feels like the end of the world when a doctor or other medical practitioner tells you that you have herpes, you must understand that there are ways to live with the virus and still enjoy life. Think about it this way: You now get to live a more purposeful and intentional life with careful thought and actions rather than merely being a bystander traveling through it.
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