Talking with a Partner
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TALKING WITH A PARTNER
What If A Partner Has Herpes
In a new relationship there is always risk. Usually this risk is emotional. When a partner has herpes, there is additional risk that you could get it, too. You may have concerns about risking infection for a relationship that may not last. You ll want to understand how to lower the risk for infection and ways to talk with your partner. Remember, if you have been sexually active you may already have been at risk for herpes. You may have it and not know it.
Because herpes can be spread without symptoms (asymptomatic shedding) it can be hard to know when a person became infected and who infected them. In fact, if you and your partner have had sex, it s possible your partner got herpes from you.Get tested and know the medical treatments available for your partner.
In an intimate, sexual relationship with a person who has herpes, the risk of contracting the infection will never be zero. Some couples have sexual relationships for years without transmitting herpes just by avoiding sexual contact during outbreaks, using condoms regularly and using suppressive antiviral therapy to reduce outbreaks. Couples deal successfully with herpes all the time. For many, it is a minor inconvenience. Since herpes does not pose a serious health risk, some couples choose not to use condoms in a long-term relationship. If you re not sure about the relationship or you re uncomfortable with the risk, consider delaying intimacy for a while. Get to know your partner better and give yourself time. Remember, all relationships face challenges, most far tougher than herpes. Good relationships stand or fall on far more important issues--including communication, respect and trust.
Social and Emotional Impact of Herpes
For most people, the social and emotional impact of herpes is greater than the physical distress. At least in the beginning. Society tends to have a judgmental attitude about sexually transmitted diseases. Many people feel embarrassed or isolated after they are diagnosed. With time, accurate information and support, most people put herpes in perspective. A diagnosis of herpes can challenge our personal view of sexuality and health. Many people can be uncomfortable talking about it. Once you or a partner knows more, know the facts, you may find your views changing.
Why Tell A Partner.....(you have to ask why?)
Some people don t tell, or don t tell every partner. Some don t tell until after they've had sex. It s important that herpes does not become a secret--for many reasons.
Once you and your partner know the facts, you may find your views changing.
Telling your partner allows this person to make an informed choice. When you tell, you are showing respect and concern for his or her well being. Your honesty may build intimacy and trust.
Telling your partner helps prevent transmitting herpes. If you keep herpes a secret, you might invent lies and half-truths to postpone sex during outbreaks. And, you give your partner a shared stake in making decisions together about how to reduce risk.
Telling your partner can begin an important discussion about sexual health. Herpes is one of over 20 sexually transmitted infections. Others have more serious health consequences. Your honesty encourages your partner to share sexual history and health information with you.
Telling your partner can prevent future misunderstandings or threat of legal action.
|When is it time to tell a partner (Ohh boy..)
This can be a sensitive topic and knowing when to raise it is important. It s best to let the friendship develop first, but it s best not to wait until after you've become sexually intimate. Then, the issue can become tangled in feelings of anger and mistrust. Remember, telling a partner about herpes is only a small part of relationship building. This disclosure can enhance your honesty and openness, and demonstrate your ability to have and maintain an intimate relationship.
- Try role-playing with a trusted friend or relative. Practice saying the words out loud.
- Choose a neutral setting during a time when you won t be distracted or interrupted. Be natural.
- Speak with confidence. You are not lecturing or confessing. You re sharing personal information.
- Remain calm. If you are upset, a partner might think it s worse than it is. Remember your delivery and body language becomes your message, too.
- Expect your partner to be accepting and supportive. You re doing the best thing for both of you. People tend to behave as you expect them to.
A Simple Message: How to Start and What to Say
- Words can be clumsy and awkward. Choose your own words and your own way of telling a partner. You'll find the way that s most comfortable for you.
- "I want to talk with you about something that s important to me. Have you ever had a cold sore or fever blister? A type of virus causes cold sores and fever blisters. I have this virus. Only, instead of getting the sores near my mouth, I get them in my genital area."
- "I really feel I can trust you and I want to tell you something very personal. Last year, I found out I have genital herpes. It s not as serious as it sounds. Can I tell you about it?"
- I really like you and enjoy being with you, and I want to get closer to you. Let s talk about safer sex."
Herpes simplex virus can cause small blisters or sores on the mouth or genitals.
- About 80 percent of American adults have oral herpes (cold sores).
An estimated 25 percent of adults in the United States have genital herpes.
- Most don't know it because their symptoms are too mild to notice.
- Herpes is most easily spread during an active outbreak or during prodrome --the few days just before an outbreak.
- Herpes is uncomfortable but not dangerous.
- Herpes does not effect the immune system or lead to other health problems.
- Herpes can be spread even when no symptoms are present.
- The surest way to prevent the spread of genital herpes is to avoid sex during an active outbreak.
- Always use condoms between outbreaks.
Most couples decide together how to reduce the risk.