Being diagnosed with herpes is already difficult, but it's the day-to-day cycle of living that might be challenging for some patients. It's important to know that doing everyday tasks will not be affected — life does not have to stop at this point.
However, there are crucial changes and decisions that you have to make and consider if you have herpes. These actions should take into account that having herpes shouldn't be considered as a burden to anyone, most especially yourself.
Coping With Herpes Personally
Shock, sadness, anger, guilt, fear and embarrassment are the common reactions of a person to a herpes diagnosis.1 While it's okay to feel these emotions, dwelling on them too much won't do any good. There are a number of ways you can be informed and be open about your situation:2, 3
• Consult a physician to learn how to manage the herpes infection, inhibit future outbreaks, and which treatment protocols are best for you, as well as help you in preventing the spread of the disease to other people.
• Educate yourself about herpes. Aside from speaking to a physician about treating your herpes, read and learn what the infection is about. There are various references that you can use to get all the information you need.
• Talk to a counselor or join a support group for people with herpes. You can search for groups in your area or online.
• Let close friends or family members know about your situation so they can provide you with the support you need.
Maintaining good physical health is also a must if you have herpes, in order to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Make sure to follow these lifestyle tips:
• Following a healthy and balanced diet composed of real food. This refers to high amounts of vegetables, low-to-moderate portions of high-quality protein, and excellent healthy fat.
• Getting adequate amounts of sleep per night. According to 2015 guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation, young adults aged 18 to 25 and adults aged 26 to 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.4
• Performing mild exercises. Excessive exercise strains your immune system and increases your stress levels.5 If you want to work out, opt for light walking, yoga or tai chi.6
• Refraining from smoking, using recreational drugs, taking excessive prescription drugs and drinking too much.
• Managing your stress, since failure to do so can lead to another herpes outbreak.7 Effective stress-relieving techniques include the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Grounding, meditation, mindfulness training, journaling, yoga, and various breathing techniques.
Maintaining a Healthy Relationship Even If You Have Herpes
Sometimes, effectively dealing with a herpes diagnosis might already be challenging on an individual level, but what more if you're in a relationship with someone else?
Communication is absolutely key in this situation. It's important to be open and honest about your situation and what you feel at the moment. Trust whatever your partner has to say and do not assign blame on anyone.8
It's up to you as to when you would tell potential partners about your condition, but do remember that it is your obligation to tell him or her about it before pursuing a sexual relationship.9 Informing your partner about your herpes infection could also lessen the chances that he or she might be infected with herpes. According to The New Zealand Herpes Foundation:10
"This is because, when you have an outbreak, you can discuss it with your partner instead of making excuses for why you can't have sex. Excuses create distance between partners and often lead to misunderstanding and guesswork. Your partner might interpret your excuses in ways more detrimental to the relationship than an honest discussion of genital herpes would be.
Do not pressure or threaten your partner if he or she does not want to pursue the relationship. But if you are diagnosed with herpes and are currently seeking a partner, there are forums where you can meet people who also have herpes or other similar conditions.11 If your partner knows of your condition already, review other potential methods of sexual intimacy. An example is the use of non-genital forms of sexual contact, especially if you have skin blisters or ulcers.