Herpes is a highly transmittable disease, so necessary precautions are essential to prevent it from spreading. Here are steps you should consider:1,2
• Refrain from having sex: do not have vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse, especially if there are blisters or sores around your genital area that aren’t completely healed.
If you have symptoms of genital herpes, do not have sex with your partner as well, since this STD is highly contagious even if itchiness or a tingling sensation is just felt.
• If you plan on having sex with your partner, use a latex condom: even after herpes symptoms are gone, use condoms during sexual intercourse, especially if you have a new partner.
However, there’s a risk when using latex condoms since it only covers the penis. If the virus is present on or around the anus, it’s still possible to transfer the infection via sexual contact. The virus may also reside within your skin and its corresponding nerves, and this is another way that herpes can be passed to someone else.
• Avoid kissing or sharing items with someone who has a cold sore around the mouth: kissing or sharing drinking glasses or utensils with an infected individual significantly increases your risk of getting oral herpes.
• Do not touch sores, even if they look healed: as mentioned, the virus can stay on an infected person’s skin, and touching it can make you susceptible to infection.
• Be honest about your health status: if you have herpes, let your partner know as soon as you can.
• Get yourself or your partner tested: regardless if you had a herpes outbreak or not, it’s important to know if you have acquired herpes or another type of STD.
Should you have herpes and end up passing on the disease to your partner, make a visit to a genitourinary medicine (GUM clinic, or sexual health clinic) to get tested for herpes.
Pregnant Women Need to Watch Out for These Health Risks
If you experience any symptoms of herpes or get exposed to the virus while pregnant, consult a physician and ask to be tested and/or treated for the disease immediately. Should you be diagnosed with herpes, make sure to have regular prenatal care visits.3 There are health risks that pregnant women face when they’re diagnosed with this disease while pregnant, such as:4
• Premature delivery of the child
• Transfer of the herpes virus to the child that can result in neonatal herpes, a life-threatening infection
A cesarean section may be performed if you have a herpes outbreak and go into labor in order to lessen the chances of your baby being infected with the virus. Antiviral medications could also be recommended to inhibit a herpes outbreak during delivery. However, these types of medicines aren’t the best solution at all, so you may want to ask for a more natural course of treatment from your physician.5