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Genital Herpes Health Center

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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 outbreaks.

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 again.

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 better.

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 STI.
  • 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 cold sores.

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.

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