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5 Myths About Herpes, Busted!

5 Myths About Herpes, Busted!

Herpes is common. Really common. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in six adults has genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by herpes simplex virus. (To learn more about the two types of herpes, HSV-1 and HSV-2, check out the CDC’s herpes fact sheet). While it may be super-common, there are still a lot of myths out there about it—here are five I hear a lot.

Myth 1: If I don’t have any sores, I don’t have herpes.

Herpes can lay dormant (sort of like it’s in hibernation) for years without causing any noticeable symptoms. Because of this, many people don’t know they have it and may have trouble figuring out how or when they got it. When symptoms do occur, they often appear as small blisters on or around the genitals. The blisters may look like pimples with clear fluid in them, and they may be painful or have a burning sensation. The best way to find out if you have herpes is to see a health care provider if you have pain, blisters or a sore.

Myth 2: We didn’t have sex, so there’s no way I have genital herpes.

Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who carries the virus. That means you can get herpes by touching, kissing and oral, vaginal, or anal sex. People who carry herpes don’t always know they have the virus, and they may not have any visible sores on their skin.

That said, your risk of getting the virus is higher if you’ve had contact with a partner who does have a visible sore. Using condoms can majorly decrease the risk of spreading the virus, but doesn’t eliminate it completely. Unfortunately, no other type of birth control reduces the risk of this STI.

Myth 3: There’s a cure for herpes…right?

First, the bad news: Once you have herpes, it will be with you for the rest of your life. The virus can lay dormant for long stretches of time, then cause “outbreaks” at times of stress or illness.

Now, the good news: There are medications you can take to make an outbreak go away faster. If you only get outbreaks once every few years, you can take the medications just when you have an outbreak. If you get outbreaks more often, you might benefit from taking a medication daily to prevent them. A discussion with your healthcare provider will help you decide which strategy is best for you.

Myth 4: I can’t have a baby if I have herpes.

This is something many women worry about when they find out they have herpes. Thankfully, it’s not true. Many women living with herpes give birth to healthy babies. However, if you have herpes it is important for you to let your healthcare provider know so he or she can monitor you for symptoms. If at the time of your labor you have any sores on your cervix, vagina, or the skin around your vagina, or if you’re experiencing symptoms like tingling or burning, your provider will recommend a caesarean section to prevent transmission of the virus to your baby. If you don’t have any symptoms, you can safely have a vaginal delivery.

Myth 5: Herpes is something to be ashamed of.

This is the most important myth to bust: While living with herpes can (literally) be a pain, it’s incredibly common and nothing to be ashamed of. For more information on this virus, check out the CDC’s Fact Sheet about it. For a more personal take on living with an STI—along with resources and support—check out The STD Project, a site founded and run by a woman who’s living with herpes.

 

Related:
How to Make Sex Safer in 4 Simple Steps
Pregnancy and Herpes
13 Dos & Don’ts for the Doctor’s Office

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Grace Shih, MD, MAS, is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She has a family medicine practice at the San Francisco General Hospital’s Family Health Center. When she’s not seeing patients, you can find her cooking, hiking, or salsa dancing.

Read more: College Life, General Health, Gynecology, Health, Life, Sex, Sexual Health, , , , , ,

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57 comments

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8:04AM PDT on Jun 30, 2014

Living with an Herpes can be tough,especially if you have an Herpes that has no cure. those people need support, medical opinions, counselors, medicine tips, dating and perhaps falling in love again.Get more information about Best Herpes Dating Sites.

11:33PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Thank you for sharing such an informative post,I always loved to read all your articles.This STD Dating Sites Serves Singles Living With Herpes, Support For The People With Herpes, Linking You With Similar People, Showing Concern Towards Those Living With STD And Offering Information For Their Condition.

11:51PM PDT on Sep 1, 2013

I have genital herpes and know what you are going through. Herpes Dating Site has helped me find quality dates with women who share my medical condition. www.HerpesPal.com is the largest genital herpes dating site online. thousands upon thousands genital herpes singles from the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia are members

9:56AM PDT on May 1, 2013

I was diagnosed during my first pregnancy, and it was earth shattering to me. I had my first outbreak then, and one since (one month ago) with this pregnancy. It took getting used to, but I am fine

9:24PM PST on Jan 26, 2013

People often make jokes about herpes. I wonder if they realize they are making fun of a quarter of their audience.

7:09PM PST on Jan 24, 2013

So glad you made this article! There is so much misinformation out there, and it is always refreshing to see an article that is fact-based.

6:27PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

thanks for the info

7:14AM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Thanks for sharing. There is more information available and it takes some patience to find reliant articles.

Interesting that "haters" arise, even when sharing interesting information. Maybe the foremost "incurable disease' IS THE HATRED WITHIN OURSELVES.

We are a species that can protect ourselves from almost everything~~~except OURSELVES.



10:05PM PST on Jan 18, 2013

...very interesting :)

3:08AM PST on Jan 15, 2013

We all need to spread the word to fight herpes.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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