Can I Have Sex with Herpes?

Dear Dr. Tom:

I am 18, and I was just diagnosed with
herpes, and I have a lot of questions about life after finding out.
I have been depressed for weeks and don’t understand this whole thing…
When can I have sex? When can’t I? Will each of my partners get this?
I’m very scared about my future, if anyone could fill me in on some
suggestions and experiences I would greatly appreciate it!
Thank you!

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Shocked:

Your information indicates your age, but
your gender being questionable, it seems a possibility that you may
be a young woman. However, the difference may have little relevance,
the main facts you have stated are that you have acquired herpes and
it seems that the world collapsed against you. Herpes is one of the
biological pestilents for those who have it, yes, but knowledge is
power. You must remember that the disease is irreversible, but informed
people live fulfilled lives. Your quest for answers is a positive step
toward handling your diagnosis in a responsible manner.

Perhaps you may have determined what type
of herpes you have. Your type may be helpful as a guide toward other
medical aspects of your life. You can still enjoy satisfying sexual
relationships, but obviously, there are certain curtailments about
transmitting the virus to other partners. Your determination whether
to/not is that for you alone. Dr. Amy, the sex therapist on this site,
stresses the importance for barrier protection; she even provides specific
instructions for constructing dental dams. Dr. Amy also conveys alternative
suggestions to enhance your sexual experience, so please refer to her
advice on this subject. As a woman, you may also have the need to seek
counsel about pregnancy later in life.

Seemingly, you may have sought some medical
advice since you have been diagnosed with this disease. A suggestion
should be to consult with someone who has far more answers than the
usual prattle from your contemporaries. A professional should assist
you. Such a person could be a gynecologist (as you may be a woman);
a dermatologist or an infectious diseases physician could be solicited
for physical treatment, or a psychologist for your emotional treatment.
I have found where sexually transmitted diseases are concerned, some
family physicians may not totally understand their limitations. At
my major medical center, such patients are directed to the Dermatology
and Infectious Diseases departments.


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