I'm herpes positive and I read that sex can cause an herpes outbreak or reoccurence. What is it about the act of sex that causes this?
To be honest, I don't really know the answer to your question. For some people, having sex can cause an outbreak, for others it doesn't. I think a lot of it has to do with the individual and his/her immune system.
Generally I think that having sex draws attention to the genital area and may aggravate and wake up the herpes virus that was once dormant. Some say it's caused by the friction experienced during sex. However, I've had outbreaks after simply masturbating. I can feel tingling at the base of my spine just after having an orgasm. The herpes virus lives in the nervous system, so maybe it has to do with the blood rushing to the nerve endings in the penis and clitoris during sexual stimulation, heightening the sensitivity of the genital area to the herpes virus.
Some believe the herpes virus is always present on the surface of the skin, but you only experience an outbreak when your immune system takes notice of the virus and attacks it. So when you have sex you can sometimes tear the skin. The immune system reacts to the tear, notices the herpes cells, and begins to fight off the herpes virus while healing the tear.
I don't think anyone really knows why exactly sex causes outbreaks in some. But to try and prevent it you can use lubricant, and I'm sure condoms wouldn't hurt. If you've only read about it, and haven't experienced it, you shouldn't worry too much. Next time you see your doctor, ask him/her what his/her thoughts are about it!
Here are some links you might find useful:
Telling Your Partner, Gender and Acceptance
Herpes, Scene 1: Knowing the Risk and Consenting to It
10 Tips to Reduce Herpes Outbreaks
Hi Penelope, thanks very much. you seem really balanced and strong ...I'd be very happy to know you. I am from india, and I was diagnosed with Herpes about 2 years ago.
Oh and one more thing...
The mind is very powerful. It's possible that if you THINK you will have an outbreak after sex, you will. And stress causes outbreaks...so my advice to you is, don't stress about it!
I'm new but sometimes sex can cause stress, and some outbreaks are caused by stress. Think careful but like the previous said, the mind plays tricks, and thinking too much can cause stress.
Remember, outbreaks can be from stress or being overly excited. If you have outbreaks easily from either circumstance it is very much possible that you will have an outbreak after having an orgasm. When having an orgasm you experience excitement, maybe a little stress. Either way your body is responding to the stimulation that happens during sex.
You may want to start to jot down when you have outbreaks and their location. This will help you determine what your "high triggers" (as I like to call them) are. That way you may reduce the number of occurances by eliminating some of the triggers.
Herp for 14 years.