Herpes is an infection that is a form of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It comes in type 1 and 2 and both forms of the virus are highly contagious, passing easily between people through physical contact. HSV1 usually manifests itself in the form of cold sores and HSV2 commonly causes infections of the genitals including painful blisters. As there is no cure for this contagious disease, it is important to limit the spread of it by following a few simple measures.
Like other forms of the sexually transmitted disease, the herpes virus is passed on when someone with an active outbreak has sexual intercourse with their partner or through bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, semen or fluid from blisters. Due to the virus being so small it can get in through even the smallest of breaks in the skin and so a visual check is not enough to prevent the spread of the disease.
While there is no surefire way of preventing the spread of the herpes virus there are ways to reduce the risk of passing it on to your partner. The simplest and most effective way of making sure you don’t pass the virus on is to avoid physical contact with your partner, especially during active periods of the virus. Although the chance of passing the virus on is drastically reduced while there are no visual symptoms of herpes it is still possible to pass it on and so using a condom is always advised during these periods.
“One of the most effective methods of reducing the chances of contracting herpes from an infected virus is by using suppressive medication.”
While the virus is active and there are blisters it can be very difficult to cover the area during intercourse as condoms don’t normally cover the entire area that has symptoms. There are very few things that can be done during this period to ensure the virus isn’t passed on apart from avoiding contact completely until blisters have scabbed over. Some people have reported a tingling sensation before the blisters come in and if this applies to you then you should avoid sexual contact during the entire period to be as safe as possible.
One of the most effective methods of reducing the chances of contracting herpes from an infected virus is by using suppressive medication. Aciclovir is one of the best ways to treat the symptoms of herpes and reduces the risk of passing it on by up to 50%. This is a massive reduction however it is still not 100% effective and should not be seen as a complete solution in its own right.
The Pros and Cons of Suppressive Medication
One of the most inconvenient aspects of genital herpes is that the virus can flare up without warning at frequent and unpredictable intervals. For many people, this can mean that they are either constantly experiencing an outbreak or constantly recovering from an outbreak.
“…once you stop taking it, the problems are likely to reappear because your body never learned to live without medication.”
Antiviral medication such as Famvir, Aciclovir or Valtrex work to suppress the activity of the herpes virus and as long as you are under medication, you are unlikely to experience outbreaks, significantly reducing the chances of passing the virus to your partner. This enables you to be physically comfortable and also to be sexually active – very important freedoms that most people take for granted.
The disadvantage of long-term suppressive medication is that once you stop taking it, the problems are likely to reappear because your body never learned to live without medication. This means that you effectively become dependent on the medication. However, the herpes virus can and does exist in a dormant state in the body, without suppressive medication and it is possible for every single person to find the internal balance that is necessary to keep the herpes virus dormant – even if you are someone who has frequent outbreaks.
Clearly, the advantage of finding an internal balance that keeps the herpes virus dormant without suppressive medication is quite attractive, particularly if you are paying for your medication. How then is it possible to find that internal balance?
It can be helpful here to remember how it was when you learned to ride a bicycle. A bicycle has two wheels and cannot stand up by itself, how then can we sit on it and move it in the direction that we want to go? And yet we all do it. We make a decision that we no longer want stabilizers and we get on that bicycle determined to learn how to ride it – and we fall, time after time.
The important first step is when a child decides that they no longer want to use the stabilizers. Stabilizers allow them to ride the bike, but they ‘aren’t cool’ and offer only limited physical freedom. The child gets on the bicycle, pushes off and wobbles along. You can see the fall coming, even if they can’t. And it happens, they fall – and they get up and try again, each time correcting the mistakes of last time. Eventually, they’re off. They have found their balance and they don’t fall.
To make the link with herpes, at first – like riding a bicycle, where the laws of physics would initially suggest that balance is impossible – it’s difficult to get our head around the fact that herpes can be effectively tamed when we’ve been taught that viruses are random demons that need to be annihilated. However, when you suspend disbelief, magic happens.
Next, to take the analogy further, suppressive medication is the stabilizer. It allows you to make progress without pain and discomfort. When you remove the stabilizers, you become susceptible to falling, which in the case of herpes are the outbreaks. People fall a lot when they are learning to ride a bicycle, but they rarely give up because they know that riding the bicycle is an achievable goal. All that they have to do is to find their internal balance and use it. It’s the same with herpes. An outbreak is a sign that you are out of balance and to become outbreak free it is important to put your attention on gaining balance. And we all have the potential to do that by living healthy, watching your diet or using specific natural oils.
Complete prevention is impossible
However, keep in mind that, due to the nature of the herpes virus, it is impossible to have methods that guarantee the virus isn’t passed from one partner to another. As a result of this, it is best to use a mixture of methods to give you the best chance of keeping your partner safe and, where possible, reducing contact between yourself and your partner, especially during periods of active symptoms.