No one wants to catch a viral lifelong STD such as herpes when there are no permanent cures for it. While the psychological impact can be overwhelming for those who just found out that they have contracted herpes and initially coming to terms with it can be difficult, remember, it is not your fault and certainly not the end of the world for you.
Coping With A Herpes Diagnosis
For most individuals, the initial reaction to a positive herpes diagnosis can range from shock, anger, sadness, guilt, fear or embarrassment. That can be followed by a few weeks or months of feeling emotionally loss, isolation, depression and a decreased self esteem.
For those who are infected with genital herpes, it is understandably that you will most likely express feelings of anger and resentment against your sexual partner who may be responsible for your infection. However, it is important to point out that your partner may not know he or she has herpes since symptoms of herpes may not show up on everyone.
An important point worth noting is that genital herpes is NOT ALWAYS an indication that a person has been unfaithful. Even though the HSV-2 is the more popular cause of genital herpes, the infection can be contacted in other ways outside of sex. HSV-1, which is responsible for cold sores, may also cause genital herpes if there are oral to genital contact.
“According to a recent nation study, genital herpes (HSV-2) affects one out of every six people age 14 to 49 years old which means an estimated 50 million people have HSV-2. Oral herpes (HSV-1) are even more common, affecting 90% of the US population.”
What the statistics tell us is herpes, especially oral herpes (HSV-1) is actually quite a common disease. There are millions of good people who are infected with herpes and yet they learn to deal with it and are currently living normal, healthy and sexually active lives once again.
The way to accept that you now have herpes and take the first step towards healing is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, awareness and support so the infection can be effectively managed to help re-establish those emotional issues as well as coping successfully with the necessary changes needed in one’s life.
To get started on the road of emotional recovery, one may want to try the following ways:
- Approach one’s physician and discuss the available treatment options to help manage and cope with the infection. While medications will not be able to cure the disease, it can help make recurrent outbreaks of herpes less frequent, more manageable and less painful.
- Speak with a counselor or talk with others who also have the same problem. Through counseling or the help of the support groups, one can learn more about the disease or how others learn to cope with their herpes and live their lives. With the support and counseling, one will be able to gradually walk out from many of the delusional and phobic feelings of having herpes.
As one becomes more knowledgeable about the infection, one will know what to expect of it, when to expect it and what can one do about it whenever there is an outbreak. With the awareness, one will also start to become more comfortable with one’s body and learn to accept living a healthy life with herpes.
Dating And Herpes
One of the biggest concerns about living a life with herpes is that infected individuals are worried that they will no longer be able to have a fulfilling relationship again. They develop a fear that herpes will kill off any possible relationships.
Many people revealed that the hardest part about going back dating or being in a new relationship is telling their new partner that they have a genital herpetic infection. This concern is perfectly understandable as no one want to face being stigmatized as a “diseased” person and facing rejection when it comes to love and relationship.
Instead of focusing on the negativity of the condition, one should learn how to be open, honest and take a responsible position about the infection when meeting new partners. Only then will one find the one true partner who is willing to accept you for who you are.
If there is someone you fancy or care, the first step is to form a good non-physical relationship. Once you are emotionally comfortable about the relationship, next step is to pick an appropriate time and place to broach the subject gently and causally.
Be ready with the knowledge of the infection as there will be a lot of concerns and questions from your partner. Being able to tell him or her how common is the infection, how herpes is spread and how you are living with the condition as well as the treatments you are currently receiving will help make your partner feel more comfortable about the subject.
Learn to choose your words carefully and avoid starting with something negative like “I have some not so good news I want to tell you…” or “I will hate myself if I don’t tell you this…”. Negative words like “terrible disease”, “dirty”, “disgusting” should also be avoided. Instead, you can bring up the subject by saying, “I really like you and there is something I would like to tell you. Sometime ago, I was infected with a viral infection that occasionally recurs…”
Do be emotionally prepare that your partner is going to be a little upset or scared. Some may not react well to the news, and some may break up with you. However, remember if you faced up to it, not only did you did your partner a great favor but if he or she is still willing to accept you, that bond between you and your partner will become even stronger and the relationship will also become more open, trusting and less superficial.
There are also many avenues for individuals infected with the herpes virus to get back to dating successfully again without being emotionally worried about the topic. Statistically, 1 in 6 Americans aged 14 to 49 years are infected with the herpes virus, and if you are having trouble meeting people who aren’t scared of this, there are online dating forums that are dedicated to singles with similar conditions to interact, meet and relate with one another without any fear or discrimination.
Recommended Reading: How Do I Tell My Partner I Have Herpes
Your Sex Life And Herpes
Many individuals have concerns about their sex lives. That is a perfectly normal response but having genital herpes does not mean that one can no longer have sex. It just means taking extra precautions when one is having foreplay or sexual intercourse.
It is important to educate your partner about the risks as there is still a chance that he or she may be infected even when there are no symptoms or signs of the sores.
Individuals who are infected with the virus may consider the use of condoms. Condoms offer some form of protection against herpes. The consistent use of female and male condoms will reduce the risk of spreading the infection during vaginal, oral or anal sex. Because the virus can be transmitted via skin to skin contact, condoms cannot be expected to be a 100% effective. People who use condoms during sex still stand the risk – albeit significantly lower – of passing the virus to their sexual partners.
Condoms can be ineffective if they are used during an outbreak. During a primary or recurrent outbreak, it is advised that people abstain from sex for the period. The symptomatic sores are widely recognized as being very contagious. Herpes can however still be transmitted even without contact with the sores. Herpes can also be transmitted through oral sex. Infected individuals who feel a tingling or itching symptom beneath their skin should refrain from engaging in any form of physical sex during this period as this may be indicative of an impending outbreak.
Consult a health care professional if you have any doubts about what’s safe and what is not.
“Your sex life is not over because you have herpes! I had a 4-year relationship with a man who had herpes, and we took precautions like using condoms and he took suppressive medication daily, and I did not contract the virus from him. There are people out there who will date you, sleep with you, have relationships with you, whether they have herpes or not. What is important is your honesty, and all the other qualities that make you such a great person — your caring, kindness, compassion, and love of life. – From Anonymous Gal”
Until a cure for herpes is discovered, there are several life style routines you can adopt to help ease the discomfort of living with the herpes virus. Your everyday life habits play a crucial role in how to best manage and prevent recurring outbreaks. There are several lifestyle modifications you can adopt that will not only make living with the virus easier to manage, but ones that will benefit you in the long run regardless of your health status. The following are suggested practices to implement into your daily routine.
Positive Mental Thinking
If you are not a positive-thinking person by nature, now is a terrific time to become one. The value of having and maintaining a positive mindset cannot be over-emphasized regardless of what issue you are coping with. Negative, bitter, self-critical thoughts add unnecessary, [avoidable] stress to your life. These negative thoughts and feelings weaken the immune system and promote chronic stress, both of which can contribute to the frequency of the herpes outbreaks.
Recommended Trying: This hypnosis download can help you reduce stress levels and boost your immune system against herpes symptoms and outbreaks.
Individuals infected with the virus are likely to experience an outbreak if they should engage in activities that:
- Increases the growth of the virus
- Weakens their body immune system
Examples of some of these include;
- Exposure to sunlight and cold
- Using irritating lubricants during sex. Avoid oil based lubricants.
- Hormonal changes (e.g. menstrual cycle)
- Wakened immune system due to an illness
When you experience an outbreak pay attention to factors that may have preceded it such as:
Sunlight And Cold: Avoid pro-longed exposure to sunlight or extreme cold conditions which can cause herpes outbreaks. The exposure period may vary from person to person and if your diary of trigger outbreaks indicates otherwise, be sure to take the necessary precautions in your individual situation.
Intercourse: Chafing and irritation during sex may irritate the skin and incite an outbreak. A water-based lubricant can make it much more pleasant and reduce the amount of tenderness. Avoid oil based lubricants. Always practice safe sex and use condoms to prevent passing the virus to your sexual partners.
Weakened Immune System: A weak immune system makes the body vulnerable to unwelcome, harmful invaders that may cause a herpes outbreak. Take common sense precautions on a daily basis by washing hands frequently to avoid contracting even the common cold. Maintain a strong immune system by staying at a healthy weight, exercising regularly, drinking more water and consuming healthy foods that are rich in lysine, zinc, vitamins A and C.
Stress And Depression: Continuous, un-managed stress or depression is one of the leading trigger factors of repeated herpes outbreaks. As mentioned, keeping a positive mental attitude to life is a good first step to managing and alleviating both stress and feelings of depression. In addition, regular exercise, proper rest and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet are all crucial to the success of keeping those negative emotions and feelings to a minimum.
What do you have to lose by adding dietary supplements to your nutritional routine? With so much of the food we consume being subjected to chemicals and processing before it makes it to our table, it is smart to help insure you are receiving an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals by taking supplements. Begin by taking a daily, multiple supplement that is high in antioxidants and anti-viral complex like amla, red marine algae and zinc. There are also a host of herbs on the market that many people report positive results with. These include: olive leaf extract, garlic, echinacea, goldenseal and Siberian ginseng.
Watch What You Eat
Keep track of foods you have eaten before an outbreak. Avoid foods like dairy, chocolate, raisins, nuts, seeds, corn and whole-wheat products that are high in arginine that can promote the recurrence of outbreaks.
Making these lifestyle changes to your life is a positive, first step to managing herpes. The changes will allow you to look at living with herpes in an optimistic light from the beginning. Herpes is just that: manageable and livable, in a positive, healthy fashion. If it weren’t for the virus, perhaps you wouldn’t be embarking on this positive lifestyle switch.
Managing herpes is a lifetime commitment. People should never hesitate to reach out for support if they should require assistance. There are many physicians and counselors who can provide further information on living with herpes and how to avoid triggers and recurrent outbreaks.