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Ask the expert Herpes
Last updated January 23, 2020. 1 minute read

I have herpes. How will this change sex for me?

“People who have known herpes—both type I or type II—can use antiviral medications prophylactically, which decreases viral shedding significantly. Ultimately, the best strategies to reduce transmission are to be on daily antiviral medication and to use condoms at every sexual event, as well as knowing the herpes status of any new potential partners.”

Dr. Serena McKenzie, ND, IF, NCMP

Serena McKenzie, ND, IF, NCMP, is a physician in Kirkland, Washington and sits on Ro's advisory board. She developed the Northwest Institute for Healthy Sexuality, a specialty care center for people experiencing sexual concerns.

Reviewed by Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH

Q: I’m HSV2-positive. How should I approach sex with my partner to prevent transmission?

A. In regards to how to have sex with herpes, there is no absolute 100% protection against transmission. Condoms will significantly reduce the risk, but they only cover the shaft of the penis, therefore vesicles in the groin or other areas can still be contagious. Furthermore, the herpes virus sheds the most right before a visual outbreak. Therefore, this makes it even more challenging to prevent transmission. 

People who have known herpes—both type I or type II—can use antiviral medications prophylactically, which decreases viral shedding significantly. Ultimately, the best strategies to reduce transmission are to be on daily antiviral medication and to use condoms at every sexual event, as well as knowing the herpes status of any new potential partners. 

Being able to freely have a conversation about herpes and herpes risk is critical for preventing transmission.

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