What can I do if I have herpes?

Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they will always have the virus and can give it to others. But you are not alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the US and worldwide. Exact numbers of people affected are not known. This is because many people don’t realize they have it, especially if symptoms are minor and are not bothersome. If you have herpes, you should:

  • Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
  • Talk about your illness with your doctor.

If you have herpes, you can still:

  • Have sex if you use a condom (and/or have your partner use a condom), and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should talk to your doctor if this is a right choice for you in your relationship.
  • Have children. Women with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your health care provider.

If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV (AIDS) and other STIs (syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2014.

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