Herpes isn’t the end of your sex life. You can still have a fulfilling sex life, even if it may be more complicated than before you’re diagnosed. You just need to be careful what you do and when to do. Before we detail the tips for sex with herpes, we should know some herpes facts which can help understand this virus better.
1. What is Herpes?
Herpes is a STD（sexually transmitted disease）caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV-1 usually causes fever blisters (oral herpes) in the mouth or face, while HSV-2 usually affects the genital area (genital herpes). However, both types of HSV can lead to genital or oral infections. In most cases, HSV-1 and HSV-2 are inactive, or “silent,” and do not cause any symptoms, but some infected people can develop “outbreaks” of blisters and ulcers. Once infected with HSV, people will be infected for life.
2. How is Herpes (Oral or Genital) Spread?
HSV-1 is usually passed from one person to another by kissing. HSV-1 can also be transmitted from the mouth to the genitals (fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus) during oral sex. If that happens, it can become genital herpes.
HSV-2 is most commonly transmitted through vaginal intercourse and anal sex. But just as HSV-1 can infect the genitals and cause genital herpes, HSV-2 can spread from one person’s genitals to another’s mouth, causing oral herpes.
3. Things about Sex with Herpes.
Avoid Sex during Outbreaks
Although you’re unlikely to want to be intimate during an outbreak, it’s important to know that this is when the virus is most active and most likely to spread. Wait until all symptoms are gone, including ulcers, itching, and tingling.
Avoid these Sex Activities during an Outbreak or when You Feel a Herpes Outbreak Coming on
According to webmd.com: between outbreaks, it’s OK to have sex, as long as your partner understands and accepts the risk. For example, as long as you don’t have herpes sores on your mouth, you can perform oral sex on your partner, including when you have an outbreak of genital symptoms.
Condom is Useful
But even if you don’t have any symptoms or ulcers, your partner still can get herpes. To prevent this, latex condoms are suggested to use during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Condoms are not guaranteed to prevent infection, but studies show that they did provide some protection. For cunnilingus and analingus, use a dental dam.
Otherwise, use your imagination. People can express their sexuality in a variety of ways without having to engage in genital-to-genital or oral-to-genital contact. Exploring them can enrich your sex life and make up for the regret of having to avoid other activities due to genital herpes. If you have any questions about what is safe and what is not, consult a healthcare expert.
Antiviral Drugs Help Reduce Symptoms and Spreading
You can also consider using antivirals drugs to treat genital herpes to reduce the spreading of the virus. A recent study suggests that daily suppressive therapy (taking drugs daily to dramatically reduce the frequency of disease outbreaks) may help prevent your partner from getting infected. (You should still use condoms, though, because suppressive therapy is only 50 percent effective at preventing transmission.)
Daily therapy is not the only option, or necessarily the best one. If your outbreaks are few and far between, you may keep your mind relaxed by offering antiviral drugs that you can take in an emergency. Ask your doctor whether you can benefit from treating genital herpes.
Another consideration may be that the friction of sexual intercourse can irritate the skin and cause herpes outbreaks. If this is a problem for you, try using a water-based lubricant. Many drugstores have the two brands K-Y jelly and AstroGlide.
However, don’t use an oil lubricant because the oil will break down the latex. In addition, do not use a lubricant containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 may cause tiny slits in mucous membranes (such as genitals), making it easier for viruses like herpes and HIV to enter the body.