I recently logged on to a chat of a bunch of young adults with herpes. Not surprisingly, many of them felt ashamed, frustrated and defeated, deceived by a partner who did not share that they had the virus... Though many of them were on an antiviral and managing their disease, they felt like they had a lifelong chain and ball attached to them physically and emotionally. As a health practioner I am heartened by the fact that we can manage this disease - but I also understand that the caution they now need to take, the fact they will have to share this information with any possible intimate partner, can seem like an unfair burden. To put it in perspective, though, if you take an antiviral and use a condom and refrain from having sex during recurrences or when you suspect you are shedding - you can have a safe and fulfilling relationship with someone special.
The truth is that in this day and age, anyone who chooses to have intimacy or be sexually active, has to contend with the prevalence of a variety of diseases; herpes and AIDS just seem to top the list. Every time I talk to my young adult daughter and teen son - I feel like they hear the words, but they don't really get the serious ramifications of not practicing safe sex. I still think they have that glorious young attitude, "It can't happen the first time or if you just do it once with someone. It just can't." I still think my daughter worries more about becoming pregnant than "catching herpes - an STD - AIDS." She thinks that because she hangs with cool people, the possibility that they would fess up doesn't exist.
On the other end of the spectrum are baby boomers, living longer and suddenly out in the world of dating and intimacy with new partners. I think they are totally clueless to the reality of herpes and STDs and they may be the population hardest to educate. After all, it wasn't ever significantly on their radar years ago. Bottom line, if you do contract herpes, you may be left dealing with painful recurrences. What can you do to cope with the pain?
- Take aspirin, Tylenol or ibuprofen
- Use lukewarm or slightly cool compresses on the affected areas
- A warm, soothing bath can help. If you are having pain urinating, you might want to try and pee in the water just before getting; it can help make urinating less painful.
- Always keep the area clean and dry
- Consider wearing 100% soft cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing
- Talk to your doctor or health professional