Living With a Genital Herpes Diagnosis

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on May 01, 2023
2 min read

When you find out you have genital herpes, it can be a shock. As you adjust, keep in mind that it’s a common condition. In the U.S., 1 in 5 women ages 14-49 and 1 in 10 men in the same age range have it.

It’s also something that you can treat. Whether you take medication every day depends on how often you have a flare. You and your doctor will decide what’s right for you.

Remember that symptoms tend to calm down in time. Your first outbreak may be the worst you'll ever have. Having herpes won’t stop you from moving ahead in any area of your life.

Learning that you have an STD may stir up some feelings. You might be angry at the person who gave it to you or upset about having a chronic condition.

Keep in mind that the person who passed on genital herpes probably didn’t mean to put you at risk. Most people with genital herpes don't know they have it. Because herpes may not flare up for a long time, it might also be hard to figure out exactly when you got it. And while there’s a lot you can do to have safer sex, you might not completely avoid STD risks every time. Don't be too hard on yourself, or anyone else, about it.

Try to focus on what you can do now: Take care of your condition, tell your partner what’s going on, ask your doctor how to avoid spreading it, and get support. If you find that it’s hard to get past feeling betrayed or down about the situation, you may want to talk with a counselor who can help you handle those emotions. Joining a support group is also an option. Ask your doctor for help finding one.