Genital herpes most often appears as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. When these blisters burst they leave the tender sores known as ulcers. The first time a person has a herpes outbreak, the ulcers may take two to four weeks to heal. The next outbreaks may not occur for weeks, months, or even later. When they do, they usually are less severe than the first outbreak. Herpes infection doesn't go away, but the outbreaks tend to become less frequent over time.
And it's important to understand that genital HSV is very common, affecting about 20% of the U.S. adult population.
Broaching the Topic of Genital Herpes
The first date after a genital herpes diagnosis may seem a little strange, however. If you hope to be sexually intimate with your date at some point, you may feel like you're keeping a secret. If you are one to be candid with people, you'll want to blurt it out. Don't. There are some things you should reveal about yourself right away -- for example, that you're married, or that you're just in town for the week -- but some things are better left for the appropriate moment.
It's up to you to decide the right time to tell a date that you have genital herpes. Follow two rules: First, don't wait until after having sex. Second, don't wait until you're just about to have sex -- in which case the attraction may be too strong for either of you to think rationally and act responsibly.
If in the past you tended to start a new relationship with sex, you now might want to change your approach. It might be better to break the news about herpes to someone who has already grown attached to you. Kissing, cuddling, and fondling are safe, so you don't have to tell before you do that. But use your best judgment as to how physically intimate you want to get before telling. One thing could lead to another, and you might find yourself in an awkward situation.
Dealing With Rejection
Anyone who dates should be prepared for rejection. The person you're seeing may beat a hasty retreat when he or she finds out you have genital herpes. If you get the "I just want to be friends" talk after telling your sweetheart you have herpes, consider this: He or she may have already been looking for a way out, and herpes was as good an excuse as any. What's more, anyone who disdains or humiliates you for having herpes was never worth your while.