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Having Sex With Herpes: Tips for a Healthy Sex Life

Having Sex With Herpes: Tips for a Healthy Sex Life

Navigating the seas of intimacy with a new partner can feel like uncharted territory, especially when herpes is a factor.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with herpes or are exploring a relationship with someone who has, figuring out how to handle the route ahead may feel rocky.

Though herpes isn’t new, many people are still under the impression that having it means the end of an everyday, healthy sex life.

But don’t despair, sailor. You can still have a healthy and fulfilling sex life, even if you, your partner, or both of you have herpes. While herpes isn’t curable, it’s very manageable.

When we say “herpes,” we refer to herpes simplex virus (HSV). This includes two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. While each herpes simplex virus type can affect the body differently, both warrant your attention to have responsible sex. 

Before we go any further, a PSA: Having herpes doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy, unsafe, or unclean. Herpes is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. Plain and simple, anyone who’s ever kissed can get oral herpes, and anyone sexually active can get a genital herpes infection.

So shake off any shame, guilt, or judgment you may have previously felt about herpes, and let’s move on.

We’re covering everything you need to know about having sex with herpes, including the best preventive practices for a safer sex life.

Can You Have a Sex Life With Herpes?

Can you have sex with herpes? Yes, you can have a sex life with herpes — and it can be healthy with the proper awareness and precautions.

Still, herpes is a lifelong virus. To be as safe as possible, keeping a few things in mind is essential.

Identify and Treat

First, while herpes doesn’t need to end your sex life, it’s best to pause sexual activity when you have an initial outbreak.

This is the time to understand what’s going on with your body, get medical advice and herpes treatment, and have honest conversations with your partner. 

The most common drug used to treat oral and genital herpes is valacyclovir. But there are two other FDA-approved antiviral medications, acyclovir and famciclovir.

These meds are generally taken two to three times per day for seven to 10 days in response to an outbreak. Dosages are adjusted depending on why they’re prescribed.

For guidance on what to expect with prescription treatment, see our post on how fast valacyclovir works.

Once an outbreak is treated and has healed, you can refocus on your sex life with the understanding that herpes can be unpredictable. Most people with HSV don’t even know they have it.


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