Genital Herpes - Topic Overview
Although there is no cure,
medicine can relieve pain and itching and help sores heal faster. If you have a
lot of outbreaks, you may take medicine every day to limit the number of
After the first outbreak, some people have just a
few more outbreaks over their lifetime, while others may have 4 to 6 outbreaks
a year. Usually the number of outbreaks decreases after a few years.
Treatment works best if it is started as soon as possible after the start
of an outbreak. This is especially true for outbreaks that come back again and
Finding out that you have herpes may cause you to feel bad
about yourself or about sex. Counseling or a support group may help you feel
The only sure way
to keep from getting genital herpes—or any other sexually transmitted infection
(STI)—is to not have sex. If you do have sex, practice safer sex.
- Before you start a sexual relationship, talk
with your partner about STIs. Find out whether he or she is at risk for them.
Remember that a person can be infected without knowing it.
- If you
have symptoms of an STI, don't have sex.
- Don't have sex with
anyone who has symptoms or who may have been exposed to an
- Don't have more than one sexual relationship at a time. Having
several sex partners increases your risk for infection.
- Use condoms.
Condom use lowers the risk of spreading or becoming infected with an STI.
- Don't receive oral sex from partners who have
Taking medicine for herpes may lower the number of
outbreaks you have and can also prevent an episode from getting worse. It also lower the chances that you will infect your partner.
If you are pregnant, you should take extra care to avoid getting
infected. You could pass the infection to your baby during delivery, which can
cause serious problems for your newborn. If you have an outbreak near your due
date, you probably will need to have your baby by cesarean section. If your
genital herpes outbreaks return again and again, your doctor may talk to you
about medicines that can help prevent an outbreak during pregnancy.