Numerous questions come up regarding herpes and safe sex, and specifically use of condoms.
Here’s a quick rundown on the dos and don’ts:
- Many people with herpes are asymptomatic and don’t even know that they have it, so your rule should be to always use a condom with a new or current partner. Latex condoms are the best. Add a spermicidal to increase the effectiveness and protection.
- If you have herpes and experience genital pain, assume an outbreak is imminent and refrain from having sex (or if this applies to your partner, do not have sex with them).
- Do not have oral or traditional sex in the presence of lesions – a condom is not sufficient protection. Be aware that if the active virus is present outside the area covered by the condom, herpes can be transmitted.
- If you are allergic to latex condoms, using lambskin condoms is not equivalent protection. Using a spermicidal can increase the effectiveness, but it is not as effective as the latex condom. Talk to your doctor or a health professional if faced with this situation.
- Do not kiss anyone with frank lesions on the face.
- If you decide to have oral sex, a dental dam should be used to protect against the transmission of herpes.
- Herpes can be transmitted by sweat, saliva, and vaginal fluids.
- If you have herpes and touch the lesions, you can technically infect another person with your hands if you touch mucosal tissue.
- Always wash hands with very warm water and soap.
- Never use saliva to moisten hard contact lenses if you have oral herpes. Wash your hands with soapy hot water before handling contact lenses.
- Remember that herpes can be transmitted even if no lesions are present.
- Finally it’s important to note that if you have herpes, you are at increased risk of HIV/AIDS if you are exposed.
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”