Using Safer Sex Practices 1 Recognize the symptoms of a herpes outbreak. If your partner has genital herpes, they can be contagious at all times; however, the risk of infection is highest when your partner is having an outbreak. It's important that you and your partner both know how to recognize a herpes outbreak. A tingling sensation in the infected area Small red dots or blisters around the genitals Flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, muscle aches, fevers, and swollen glands  2 Consider avoiding sex during an outbreak.
Your partner will be most likely to pass on the infection to you during an outbreak. If you want to avoid becoming infected yourself, talk to your partner about avoiding sexual activity during an outbreak. The duration of outbreaks depend on how long your partner has had the virus and whether they are on any antiviral medications. On average, outbreaks last three to 14 days. Using condoms or dental dams during sex can reduce the transmission rates of genital herpes.
Keep in mind herpes can affect parts of the skin not covered by a condom or dental dam so such protective methods do not completely eliminate the risk. Be aware that herpes can be spread by both vaginal or anal sex. Use of latex condoms can greatly cut down on transmission rates of genital herpes. Both the giver or the receiver of oral sex can contract herpes during the act; therefore, to be safe, you should also use condoms or dental dams during oral sex if you want to prevent the virus from spreading.
They will not protect against STDs, but can reduce friction and therefore limit the number of outbreaks. Lubrication will also help keep condoms from breaking during use. Products like KY jelly or AstroGlide are available at most drug stores.
Herpes can also be spread from skin-to-skin contact. If you're engaging in genital stimulation with your hands, be careful to avoid touching herpes sores if your partner is having an outbreak. Wash your hands immediately using soap and warm water after coming into physical contact with herpes sores to prevent herpes transmission.
You may not be comfortable with genital-to-genital contact if your partner has genital herpes. There are many other ways to have a fulfilling sex life with your partner even if you're refraining from certain sexual activities.
Activities like mutual masturbation do not pose a transmission risk. You could also consider genital stimulation via hand, as long as you wash your hands shortly after contact.
Experiment with your partner with alternative sexual practices. Be creative and find out what feels right for the two of you. This can prevent the spread of the herpes virus. If you're worried about the disease spreading, having your partner talk to their doctor. Your partner's doctor can recommend treatment options that lessen the likelihood of an outbreak spreading.
Be respectful of your partner when suggesting they see a doctor. Talking about herpes can be embarrassing and stressful; however, your partner told you about their infection because they care about your health. Explain to your partner you want to make sure the two of you have as fulfilling a sex life as possible.
You feel a doctor may be able to suggest medications or other treatment options that can lessen the likelihood of the virus being transmitted. You can say something like, "I like you and I really want to have sex with you, but I want to make sure we both stay healthy and safe. What would you think about talking with your doctor about the best way for us to have fun and stay safe?
Antiviral medications can be used to manage a herpes infection. When used properly, these medications reduce the risk of transmission. Your doctor can prescribe antiviral pills. Some people take the medication every day, but if your partner's outbreaks are rare, their doctor may recommend your partner only take the medication during outbreaks.
Only a qualified medical doctor will be able to tell your partner if medication is the right choice for them.
If your partner has genital herpes, the two of you need to have a discussion about your sex life. You need to establish sexual boundaries with your partner if they have herpes. Stay calm during the conversation and try to keep things in perspective. Keep in mind that herpes comes with few health risks beyond irritation and many couples engage in sexual activity for years without spreading the virus.
You may prefer to only have sex using condoms or to avoid sex during outbreaks. If you can foresee a long-term relationship with your partner, you may be less worried about transmitting the virus.
Having herpes comes with a certain amount of stigma. Your partner may need to find someone to talk to about the virus. You can help them find support groups online or in your local community. Couples should regularly get tested for STDs, especially if one partner has a condition like herpes. Make an agreement to get tested once every few months together.
There are usually free or discount clinics in most cities for STD testing.