It ruins your sex life and it can be cured… 7 myths about herpes busted

Despite infections like Herpes being so common, there's still so much fake news about what causes it, how it's spread and what it really is.

Herpes can be incredibly dangerous to newborns so it's vital that we know everything possible about the virus.

There are around 35,000 cases of herpes a year in the UK – with current estimates saying that about 70 per cent of the population having been infected by the herpes virus or one of its close relatives, which we've managed to fight off via our own natural defences.

Dr Clare Morrison, GP at MedExpress reveals seven myths and misconceptions of this super-common STD:

Myth 1: It's something to be embarrassed about

“Doctors have seen it all and we are not there to judge. Coming in to get medication to help with outbreak symptoms is the correct move and no qualified doctor will be judging you."

Myth 2: Only promiscuous people get herpes

“You can have herpes without knowing it, that’s because even if there are no noticeable symptoms like small red bumps, pain, blisters or itching, you can still spread the viral cells and infect a partner. So promiscuous people aren’t the only ones at risk.

"The herpes virus is the most infectious just before, during, and after an outbreak, but it also has ‘silent shedding’ between outbreaks, meaning the virus can spread at just about any time.”

Myth 3: If you sleep with someone who has the virus, you'll get it too

"The infection is mainly passed on if the person who is infected is having an outbreak at the time of intercourse. If you avoid sleeping with someone while you have an outbreak, the chance of passing it on to that person is reduced.

"Wearing a condom while someone is having an outbreak also won't 100% protect you from contracting the infection, so it's best just to avoid sex for a few weeks."

Myth 4: Cold sores are just genital herpes on your face

“Even though cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1, if you have oral sex with someone who has a cold sore it can actually give you genital herpes.

"The likelihood of passing it on is very high during a primary outbreak. If you do have receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, washing with soap and water after can help decrease the risk of transmission.

Myth 5: Herpes is uncommon

"Many people believe that Herpes is uncommon, yet around 70% of us are infected with some strain of the herpes virus!”

Myth 6: Your sex life is over

“While there’s no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life. People seem to fear herpes more than any other STI, they feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and that’s not the case.

"If you have to be ‘perfect’ for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very long time to find a match, it’s also best to be honest with your partner, to avoid confrontation down the line.”

Myth 7: Herpes can be cured

“Unfortunately, if you have the herpes virus then you have it for life. However, things can be done to manage the symptoms. For example, it has been proven that stress can lead to an outbreak of herpes, so try and stay relaxed.

"Antiviral medications do exist to help out when you are having an outbreak and to help speed the healing of sores, but the infection will stay with you forever.”

What to do if you think you have herpes?

“When you first notice symptoms, which can often be quite painful, it's imperative that you head to your doctor or local sexual health clinic and avoid having sex until symptoms have cleared.

"Getting medication to help with these outbreaks is imperative, as going without can affect your quality of life for a few weeks. It's important not to be embarrassed about seeking help, it's nothing we haven't seen before!”

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