You have been told you're infected with a virus for which there is no cure, and one that affects a very sensitive area. That's crummy news, but don't get too down about it.
Above all, realize that genital herpes is very common. Chances are one of your friends, family members, or co-workers has it, too. If you have read about genital herpes, you know the statistic: About one in five people in the U.S. is infected. But you may not realize that some diseases we consider quite common are less so than genital herpes -- asthma and diabetes, for instance.
First, simple self-care may be enough to relieve most discomfort caused by genital herpes. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain of herpes symptoms. Doctors sometimes recommend soaking the affected area in warm water. But the area should be kept dry most of the time. If toweling off after bathing is uncomfortable, try using a hair dryer on the "cool" setting. Then put on cotton underwear. Cotton absorbs moisture better than...
If you've done your herpes homework, you also know it won't kill you, and it probably will not cause serious health problems later. Still, no one should underestimate the havoc the diagnosis can play with emotions. You may feel "dirty" or sexually undesirable. You may get depressed thinking about a lifetime of symptoms and taking drugs to control them. You may be angry with the person who infected you. These are valid feelings, but you must learn to overcome them and get back to normal, or else risk "becoming" the condition. You are not herpes: You have herpes.
Challenge Your Feelings About Genital Herpes
The way to get over these feelings is to challenge the assumptions on which they are based. Does genital herpes make you less attractive? No, not really. Sores may appear on your genitals from time to time but the rest of you is not affected. People are attracted to many things about you besides sex appeal. You're just as cute and funny as you always were; your eyes are still as alluring, or whatever is special about you.
When you have symptoms, you shouldn't have sex, and probably won't want to. But then you don't feel sexy when you have a cold, either. After a few days, you get over your cold and feel better. Think back to a time when you were sick with a cold. Your partner may have leaned in to kiss you, and you said something like, "No, I don't want to give you this bug I have." But did he or she kiss you anyway? If someone wants you, your infection won't necessarily deter desire.