Practicing safer sex when you have genital herpes
Can you have a fulfilling and safe sex life after getting genital herpes? The answer is yes—but it requires knowing what to do and when to do it. Here are a few things you can do to stay healthy and have fun.
Tell your partner.
If your partner doesn’t know you have genital herpes, now is the time to speak up. Learn as much about the virus as you can to be prepared to answer any questions. Be honest and straightforward: “I have genital herpes. I have ways that I manage the infection so it’s less likely for me to pass it to others.”
Avoid sex during an outbreak.
If you are experiencing an outbreak or feel one coming on, steer clear of sexual activities that include parts of the body where sores appear. For example, if you usually get sores on your penis, don’t top or receive oral sex when you are having an outbreak.
Sex between outbreaks is less risky.
If you show no signs of herpes sores, you’re much less likely to pass the virus to your partner, yet it’s still possible. Be certain your partner understands and accepts the risks.
While condoms are not guaranteed to prevent infection, they can provide some protection during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. You may also consider using a dental dam while rimming.
Break out the lube.
The friction caused by certain sex acts can irritate skin and trigger outbreaks. Use water-based or silicone lube to make the glide a little smoother. If you’re using condoms, don’t use oil-based lube since the oil can break down the latex of the condom.
Use your imagination.
During outbreaks, explore sexual activities that pose little or no risk, such as mutual masturbation or sex toys. (Be sure to never share toys and to wash after every use.)