How can I Avoid Spreading Herpes?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Herpes is spread primarily through sexual contact. If you want to avoid spreading herpes, you may abstain from sex, use condoms, or limit your sexual partners. You may also avoid any form of sexual contact when you have an active herpes outbreak. If you are a pregnant woman, having a Cesarean section or using antiviral medications prior to delivery may help you avoid spreading the disease to your child. Additionally, you may do well to avoid kissing others when you have a herpes sore on your mouth or note signs that one is impending.

A water blister caused by herpes type 1.
A water blister caused by herpes type 1.

You may avoid spreading herpes by abstaining from sex. Besides that, however, you may cut down your chances of spreading the disease by having fewer sexual partners. In fact, choosing to have sex only in a monogamous relationship with a person who knows you have herpes may lower your chances of spreading the disease. This may also help you avoid contracting other sexually transmitted diseases.

Kissing is one way that the herpes virus can be spread.
Kissing is one way that the herpes virus can be spread.

Another effective way to avoid spreading herpes is to use a condom during sexual intercourse. Condoms may help reduce the risk of spreading herpes if they are used all of the time, not just when you have an active herpes outbreak. Since herpes sores sometimes appear outside of the area that is protected by condom use, you may also do well to avoid all sexual contact during an outbreak or when you think one is impending. Using dental dam may help as well, as herpes is also spread through oral sex.

Condom use can help prevent the spread of genital herpes.
Condom use can help prevent the spread of genital herpes.

Besides sexual contact, there are other ways in which you may spread the herpes virus, including kissing. You may even spread it by toughing a herpes bump on your lip and then touching your partner’s genitals. To be safe, you may do well to avoid kissing and various types of sexual touching when you have an active herpes sore. Some people also note a tingling or irritated feeling in the area in which a herpes lesion will soon appear. If this happens to you, you may choose to avoid sexual contact during this time as well.

Using a dental dam when getting or giving oral sex can help prevent the spread of herpes.
Using a dental dam when getting or giving oral sex can help prevent the spread of herpes.

If you are pregnant and have herpes, it is possible to spread the virus to your baby during childbirth. To avoid spreading herpes this way, you may have a Cesarean section rather than allowing the baby to travel through the birth canal, where it is possible for him to be infected. Taking antiviral medications may also help to reduce the likelihood of transmission during childbirth.

The herpes virus is easily spread through kissing.
The herpes virus is easily spread through kissing.
Kissing someone with a cold sore can lead to a herpes simplex 1 infection.
Kissing someone with a cold sore can lead to a herpes simplex 1 infection.
Being prepared with proper protection prior to intercourse can help prevent the spread of herpes.
Being prepared with proper protection prior to intercourse can help prevent the spread of herpes.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

bear78

I occasionally get cold sores on my lip. I think it's HSV-1. Will I pass the virus to others when the sore heals?

discographer

@burcidi-- Are you on antiviral medication? Spreading genital herpes is less likely with protection and also if you're not currently having an outbreak. However, the risk, however small, is always there. I think the best precaution is taking antiviral medication and using protection and avoiding sex during outbreaks.

I also advise against oral sex as that can not only infect your partner, but can re-infect you through your partner.

I follow all these rules and I have a herpes negative partner as well.

burcidi

I recently tested positive for the herpes virus. My boyfriend got tested too and he's negative. I've been avoiding getting physical since I found out about it.

My boyfriend thinks it will be fine as long as we're using protection but I'm not sure. I don't want to give the virus to him. I don't want this to affect my relationship negatively either, I just don't know what to do.

Does anyone else have the herpes virus and have had a relationship without spreading the virus to their partner? What precautions did you take?

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