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Lifestyle Changes for Genital Herpes

These lifestyle changes will not prevent herpes outbreaks. But, they will help you live your life to the fullest.

Be Informed

Learn as much as you can about the virus. Ask you doctor questions and get more information from reputable websites and books.

Get Counseling

Your doctor can provide counseling about genital herpes, such as how the virus is spread and what symptoms to be aware of. In addition, you can work with a mental health counselor, who will help you deal with:
  • The negative self-image that you may have after being diagnosed.
  • Anger, stress, anxiety , and depression that you may feel.
You may also benefit from talking to friends and family and from joining a support group .

Communicate with Your Partner

  • Talk to your partner about your diagnosis. He or she will need to be tested for genital herpes and get treatment if needed. Your doctor may be able to recommend ways to talk about a difficult topic like genital herpes.
  • Before you have sex with a new partner, talk to him or her about your diagnosis.
  • Share any information about genital herpes and ways to avoid spreading the virus. To learn more about herpes, your partner should also get counseling from his or her doctor.

Modify Your Sexual Activities

  • Always use a latex condom. But, keep in mind that you can still spread genital herpes even if you use a condom. This is because the virus can exist on skin not covered by the condom.
  • Genital herpes can affect your sexual spontaneity. So, you will need to plan ahead. If you have an outbreak, do not have sex.
Also, it is important to know that having genital herpes puts you at an increased risk for getting HIV if you are exposed to it.

Stay Healthy

  • Get eight or more hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a sensible, well-balanced diet.
  • Try to minimize stress at work and at home.
  • Do not touch any visible sores or blisters. Make sure not to spread the virus to other parts of your body, such as your mouth or your eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water if you do touch a sore or blister.
As soon as you see signs of an outbreak, tell your doctor right away. The sooner you take antiviral medicine, the shorter the outbreak will last.
Special Precautions if you are Pregnant
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, talk with your doctor about ways to prevent your baby from contracting the virus. Your doctor may have you take an antiviral medicine. In some cases, you may need to have a cesarean section to try to prevent herpes exposure to your baby during delivery.
Special Precautions if you have HIV
If you have HIV, outbreaks of genital herpes can be more severe and long lasting. It is important that you work with a doctor who specializes in treating people with HIV so that you can get the best care possible.

References

Genital herpes—CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm . Updated February 11, 2013. Accessed February 25, 2013.

Genital herpes fact sheet. US Department of Health and Human Services Womens Health website. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/genital-herpes.cfm . Updated August 10, 2009. Accessed February 25, 2013.

Genital herpes prevention. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/genitalHerpes/understanding/Pages/prevention.aspx . Updated January 26, 2011. Accessed February 25, 2013.

Genital herpes transmission. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/genitalHerpes/understanding/Pages/transmission.aspx . Updated January 26, 2011. Accessed February 25, 2013

Herpes genitalis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated September 4, 2012. Accessed February 25, 2013.

Mindel A, Marks C. Psychological symptoms associated with genital herpes virus infections: epidemiology and approaches to management. CNS Drugs. 2005;19(4):303-312.

Neonatal herpes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated June 28, 2012. Accessed February 25, 2013.

Roberts C. Genital herpes in young adults: changing sexual behaviours, epidemiology and management. Herpes. 2005;12(1):10-13.

Workowski KA, Berman S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: David Horn, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2014
  • Update Date: 05/28/2014
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