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What are some tips for living with genital herpes?

Finding out you have genital herpes can be a bummer, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your sex life, and it doesn’t mean 24/7 discomfort.

When herpes flares up, it’s called a "recurrence" or "outbreak." Outbreaks are different for different people. Some people have only 1 outbreak in their life, while others may have them once every few weeks, months, or years.

If you have outbreaks on the “more-often” side of things, your doctor or nurse can prescribe a medicine that makes them happen less often. Ointments can also make outbreaks heal faster and happen less often. So one major tip for living with genital herpes is to talk with your doctor or nurse about it.

A healthy diet, enough rest and sleep, and effective stress management may also help prevent herpes recurrences.

Genital herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact that usually happens during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. When you have an outbreak, it’s really important to avoid having sex so that you don’t spread herpes to your partner. In general, using condoms during vaginal, oral, and anal sex can lower your chances of passing herpes on, whether you’re having an outbreak or not.

It can help to connect with people who know what you’re going through. The American Social Health Association has a listing of support groups for people living with herpes.