Eight Myths You Should Not Believe About Genital Herpes

September 15, 2022

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the whole world; that is a fact. However, despite being common, there are many myths out there about it. We have collected the most common myths about genital herpes that we hear all the time. Let us take a closer look at them:

1. If there are no sores, there is no herpes.

Some people may have herpes and live with it for years without even knowing that they have herpes. It can be within the body for years without causing any kind of symptoms. Because of this fact, many people do not even know how or when they might have gotten the disease.

When the symptoms appear, they start as small blisters around or on the genitals. These blisters look like pimples and they contain clear fluid. They are tender, painful, and cause an itching or burning sensation.

Once you notice that you have any kind of blisters on or around your genitals, see your doctor and get testing for STDs immediately. Also, if you have many sexual partners, it is preferred to check yourself regularly.

2. Genital herpes is spread only by sexual contact.

Because it has the word “genital”, people think that genital herpes is only transferred via direct sexual contact. This is not true.

 Herpes can spread via skin-to-skin contact easily. People who carry the virus can transfer it to others via touching, oral sex, anal sex, kissing, and of course sexual intercourse.

The problem is not having sex or touching someone who already knows that he/she has genital herpes, because these people will follow all the tips to prevent the virus from being transferred to their sexual partners. The problem appears when people who are not aware that they carry the virus and do not have any kind of symptoms touch or have sex with others. These people are the real danger. Doctors say that most of the patients become surprised that they have herpes, especially male patients who use condoms. Condoms can decrease the risk of getting the virus, but it does not eliminate the risk. However, condoms are the only method available that can be kind of effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases including genital herpes.

3. There is no cure.

Well, this point needs to be explained completely. You will live with herpes forever; that is a fact. Once you have herpes, the virus will live in a nerve cell and remain there forever. It will be activated from time to time causing outbreaks. The reason behind these outbreaks can be stress or illness. However, it is not true to say that there is no cure for genital herpes. In fact, there is no cure that is able to eliminate the virus from the body, but there are cures that are able to make the outbreak disappear faster.

These medications like aciclovir tablets are taken to make the symptoms disappear. For people who have an outbreak frequently, taking these medications on daily basis decrease the symptoms and eliminate the outbreak immediately. If you have an outbreak every few years, you can take the medication when it occurs only. It is better to discuss it with your doctor to make the best possible treatment plan.

There is no cure for eliminating the disease, but there is a cure for eliminating the symptoms; that is the fact.

4. You cannnot have a kid.

This is one of the big concerns for women who have herpes. The truth is women who have herpes can have babies without any worries. The babies will be totally healthy. If you have herpes, you should tell your doctor about it. The doctor will monitor the symptoms and agree with you on treatment plans for all the possibilities.

For example, if you have any kind of symptoms at the time of labor, the doctor will recommend a cesarean section. The symptoms include any kind of blisters on or around the genitals, tingling, painful urinating, or any other symptom. This is because the virus may exist in the vaginal canal. If there is not any kind of symptoms, it is safe to have a vaginal birth. However, most doctors recommend having a cesarean section whether there are symptoms or not.

5. I have herpes, I should be ashamed.

This is the most common myth out there. Living with herpes is difficult and painful, but there is nothing to be ashamed of. Genital herpes is the second most common sexually transmitted disease after HIV.

6. Herpes cannot be transmitted by sitting on an infected seat.

One of the most common myths is that herpes simplex virus dies once it is exposed to air. However, one of the studies made by a team at the University of California discovered that this is not true. The team asked patients with active herpes lesions to sit on toilet seats. After 4 hours, the team took cultures from the seats and the virus was still alive and active. 
This is one of the common ways to transmit the disease, especially if just one patient used a public toilet seat. Patients who have herpes simplex must be aware of this fact and avoid using public toilets or toilets without a precaution.

7. I have herpes, I cannot have sex.

This is one of the big concerns regarding genital herpes. You can have sex safely if you have genital herpes without transmitting the virus to your sex partner; that is a fact, as long as you avoid having sex during active outbreaks and having active lesions.

Using all methods of safe sex is necessary. Viral shedding occurs even if the lesions are not active. Using condoms decrease the risk of transmitting the disease from the one who has the virus to a healthy person. Even if none of the sexual partners is aware that he/she has herpes, it is better to use condoms in general to decrease the risk of STDs including genital herpes.

8. Herpes infects certain body areas and does not spread to other body parts.

It is essential to wash your hand immediately after touching your genital area or blisters, because you can transmit the virus to other body parts if you touched them after touching your genitals. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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