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I just found out the guy I’ve been seeing for a couple weeks has herpes. I’m full of questions, but one question I keep dwelling on is, how can people get pregnant without passing on herpes to their partner? How can I avoid getting herpes and still have a fulfilling sex life with him?

It’s normal to have complicated feelings after you find out that your partner has herpes. Millions of people are living with herpes, and sharing your concerns with your partner and educating yourself on how it’s spread are good ways to protect yourself.  

Genital herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it — including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Herpes can live on areas of your body that aren’t protected by condoms (like the butt cheeks, upper thighs, and labia), so condoms won’t always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes. 

Here are other ways to avoid getting herpes from your partner: 

  • Always use condoms and dental dams during oral, anal, and vaginal sex.

  • Talk with your partner about taking herpes medicine every day, which can lower their chances of spreading herpes.

  • Don’t have sex during a herpes outbreak, even with a condom. There may be sores on places the condom doesn’t cover. Wait until the sores are totally gone, and the scabs heal and fall off.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you can have unprotected sex with your partner as long as your partner isn’t having an outbreak (with visible sores). There’s a chance you can still get herpes this way, but the risk is smaller if your partner isn’t having any herpes symptoms. You can always talk with a nurse or doctor, like the staff at your local Planned Parenthood, about safer sex and getting pregnant.

Tags: herpes, sex