Having “The Talk” About Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common sexually-transmitted disease that affects more people than anyone thinks. Close to 20% of the adult population, which is almost one out of every five adults, have herpes. Many of those infected do not even know they have the disease, and this is because they experience no symptoms, or have very mild ones that are easily overlooked or mistaken for a simple skin infection. Sadly, however, even dormant or asymptomatic (symptom-less) cases are very contagious, and so people with herpes need to be very careful to avoid infecting their sexual partners.

Given this, it can be difficult for an infected person to build and maintain an intimate relationship. It is necessary that he informs his sexual partner (or partner-to-be) of his disease and its highly communicable nature. With or without the presence of sores or an active outbreak, sexual contact can transmit genital herpes. It is possible to prevent infection by using condoms, but this method isn’t foolproof. Condom use does not give a hundred percent secure protection from genital herpes. Sometimes, especially during an outbreak, abstinence from sex is the only way to prevent transmission of the disease.

Having “the talk” involves letting the partner know about all this pertinent information. To reveal the fact that one has genital herpes is in itself a difficult, but necessary task. One must also be ready to disclose the clinical facts about the disease that the partner may ask about. Indeed, the other person needs to know these facts when they consider whether to continue the relationship or not.

After having “the talk,” there is a very real possibility that the other person may decide to end the relationship. Understandably, this can cause great emotional pain, especially if the infected person really cares for their partner. But one must realize that revealing their infection is the right thing to do, and sooner or later, the disease will be discovered by their partner. It is better that you volunteer the information now rather than when your partner learns about it when they has contracted the disease. If they decides to end the relationship now, after learning of you having genital herpes, it can mean that their affections do not run very deep, and the relationship is bound to fail anyway.

With these in mind, the infected person must realize that having “the talk” is really unavoidable and the right thing to do. Nonetheless, you will naturally feel anxious about it, and will need to prepare himself for the task. These useful tips will help you be prepared:

You should choose a comfortable place to have “the talk.” It should be a place where you feel at ease and not self-conscious or nervous. It can be at home or in a public place such as a park.

There should be ample time for the discussion. It should not be rushed, so that all the things you need to say can be said.

There shouldn’t be interruptions from the phone, from other people, or whatever distractions.

The talk should take place before any sexual contact. It is but appropriate to let the other person know that there is a risk of getting infected before actually having sex.

You should be calm and straightforward as you reveal the facts. Mentioning that herpes is very common and is benign or dormant most of the time will help make the news easier to take.

You should be ready to accept the other person’s decision to end the relationship, or to have some time to consider things before they see each other again.

Having “the talk” is not all bad. Going through it means that one wants a serious, mature, responsible and caring relationship. And should the other person decide to pursue the relationship despite the fact their partner has genital herpes, they can begin a relationship that is not all superficial or shallow, but something that is precious, real and enduring.

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