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I went to the doctors a few days ago for what I thought was poison oak on my vulva, but the doctor said that she is pretty positive I have genital herpes so she gave me a urine test and some cultures. I have not recieved the results yet, but the more I look into information about herpes the more I notice that I have all the symptoms of the intial outbreak. Honestly I am terrified and I feel hurt and very confused. My question is how can I have sex with my boyfriend or anyone ever again without giving them the virus?

It’s normal to feel upset after a herpes diagnosis. Herpes is a very common infection. It remains in the body for life and can produce symptoms that come and go. For most people, the virus weakens over time and symptoms appear less and less frequently over the course of a few years.

In the meantime, there are three main ways you can prevent spreading genital herpes.

1. Stop having sexual contact as soon as you feel warning signs of an outbreak. Warning signs may include a burning, itching, or tingling feeling. Do not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex — even with a condom. Wait until seven days after the sore heals. The virus can spread from sores not covered by the condom. It can also spread in sweat or vaginal fluids to places the condom doesn’t cover.

2. Use condoms between outbreaks to reduce the risk of transmission.

3. Use herpes treatments. The risk of transmission can be greatly reduced if the partner with herpes takes a small daily dose of anti-herpes medication.

Touching any type of herpes sore may spread the virus from one partner to another or from part of the body to another, especially during initial herpes. If you have herpes sores

  • Don’t touch the sores. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water — this kills the virus. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before rubbing your eyes, and before touching a contact lens.
  • Don’t wet contact lenses with saliva — especially if you have oral herpes.
  • If you have a cold sore on your mouth, don’t kiss anyone — especially infants, children, or pregnant women.


Many Planned Parenthood health centers have support groups for people living with herpes.

The American Social Health Association sponsors a program that assists people with herpes — the Herpes Resource Center. It publishes a quarterly newsletter, operates a telephone hotline, and organizes help groups. The International Herpes Resource Center is another great place to check out for more information and support.

Tags: herpes, STDs