Can You Have Unprotected Sex with Herpes?

Can You Have Unprotected Sex with Herpes_ - blog Alexandra Harbushka

Do you always have to use protection now that you have herpes?

The quick answer is no! You can absolutely have unprotected sex even if you have herpes. Before we dive deep and go into explanation on this let’s talk about how this is a huge myth and is one of the drivers for the stigma.

When we are diagnosed and told that we have herpes we automatically think that we’re going to be forced to use condoms for the rest of our lives, even when we’re married. Yuck! And this is not true. Yes, condoms are great! They do a great job at preventing pregnancy and they do an okay job at preventing the transmission of herpes. Condoms definitely have their pros and thank goodness we have them. But let’s face it, there comes a time in a relationship when you don’t want to “have to” use one. I get it. 

Here’s the deal with condoms. Like I mentioned before they are great at preventing pregnancy in fact they’re 98% effective when used correctly. And when it comes to preventing herpes transmission they are 30-50% effective when used correctly. So this is great news but it also explains why if you always used a condom why you still got herpes. Condoms don’t cover all of the body parts. I mean you’re pretty exposed still and herpes doesn’t just show up in the areas that are covered by the condom. Herpes can be on a man's scrotum, at the base where the condom doesn’t cover or in any area around the genital region. Same thing for women, herpes is not just in the vaginal canal or around the opening. It can be any place in her genital region. 

The best method out there for reducing the risk of transmission is actually when the person who’s infected takes the antiviral. Yep, the antiviral cuts down on transmission by 48%. This is far more effective than a condom because the antiviral keeps the herpes virus dormant in your system. 

So, what this boils down to and what this means in reducing the risk of transmission is you need to have a conversation with your partner about having herpes. They need to know and they need to make their own decision about when the condom comes off. Really, this conversation needs to be had with our without herpes but we’re specifically talking about herpes. You and your partner need to talk about what precautions you’re going to take to reduce the transmission and what you both feel comfortable with. 

And, don't forget! Sex is healthy and has so many benefits, we all want to keep it that way, so both of you feel have to feel comfortable whatever you decide upon.

Go out there have fun and talk to your partner!!!


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