Telling your partner that you have herpes can create a lot of anxiety and stress, but it doesn’t have to. The herpes virus is exceedingly common, but it’s also preventable. We’ve compiled a list of tips for you to use when telling your partner about your diagnosis, including safe sex steps to keep in mind.
Remember that you are being respectful by sharing this information with your partner. You’re doing the right thing. Coming to the conversation completely prepared, including learning about HSV2, it’s transmission and symptoms, can help get you through this potentially uncomfortable situation more easily.
Understanding the herpes virus and its transmission is important for both yourself and your partner. Learning more about herpes makes it less mysterious and scary, and you’ll be able to alleviate your partner’s fears.
Practice What You’re Going to Say
Practice makes perfect, right? A lot of anxiety can be reduced just by rehearsing what you’re going to say in the moment.
When it’s time to tell your partner, begin by simply telling them that you have genital herpes. Calmly explain that while the word “herpes” tends to scare people, it’s a very common disease (one in five people have HSV2) and carriers may be completely unaware that they have it. Since many people don’t ever exhibit symptoms, most doctors don’t even test for it. Reiterate that you understand the importance of being completely open and honest about your health.
Explain how to reduce the odds of transmission through daily suppressive therapy (which you should consider taking if you aren’t already) as well as barrier methods like condoms and refraining from sex during an outbreak. Try to keep things light- herpes is nothing to be ashamed of
Think About Tone
While you may be nervous to tell your partner about your diagnosis because of the stigma attached to herpes, speak in a calm, casual manner. If you present it in a negative way, your partner is more likely to freak out.
Respect Their Reaction
Take your time and lay it on the line in a relaxed and direct way. Be easy with yourself and understand that the reaction of your partner is not a reflection on you.
Don’t Pick an Inappropriate Time
Be responsible and tell your partner before any sexual intimacy occurs. Pick a relaxed, quiet time and place, in which the two of you are not distracted. Don’t barge into the room or interrupt your partner in the middle of doing something. You need their full attention and a good head space to maximize your success.
Don’t Get Defensive
Your partner may react poorly, even if you’ve taken all the right steps. It’s okay. Understand that this may be a challenging experience for them as well. Try to give them space while they come to terms with this new information and don’t react emotionally.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Telling Your Partner
While being a little afraid to tell your partner is completely normal, you can’t let this fear prevent you from telling them. You know that a herpes diagnosis is not a huge deal, so prepare yourself with the information and statistics you will need to tell them in the most clear and informed way possible. Most likely, your partner will respect your honesty and it will set the foundation for a deeper, more trusting relationship. However, if things go terribly and they can’t cope, it’s not the end of the world. You deserve someone who loves you, all of you, for exactly who you are.
Don’t Let Herpes Wreck Your Self-Esteem
Millions of people have herpes. You are not alone, dirty or bad. Understanding that you are just as sexy and vibrant as before your diagnosis ensures you will continue to have healthy sexual experiences. Herpes is basically just an inconvenience, not a deterrent.
Avoid Sex During Herpes Outbreaks
This one seems like a no brainer. When you start to experience any early outbreak symptoms, like tingling and itching, don’t have sex. When you’re having a full-blown outbreak, refrain from genital sex, even protected sex. If you have cold sores, don’t perform oral sex on your partner. Continue to avoid having sex for about 3 to 5 days after your outbreak has healed to ensure safety.
Use your imagination! You don’t have to have genital-to-genital contact to have a fulfilling sexual experience. Mutual masturbation and sex toys are a great way to have fun without worrying about accidentally transmitting herpes to your partner.
Using condoms during sex, even oral sex, can reduce the chance that you will pass genital herpes to your partner. A dental dam is another good barrier method to avoid transmission during oral sex.
Take Suppressive Medication
Suppressive medication is a herpes treatment that works by preventing asymptomatic shedding. Asymptomatic shedding is when the herpes virus spreads without a visible outbreak. Plus, taking these meds greatly reduces your outbreaks, so it’s a win-win