Some STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are easy to deal with. You go to your local teen clinic, get tested with a quick urine sample, and if it shows up positive with chlamydia or gonorrhea, you take a one time dose of antibiotics. Herpes is a little different.
Herpes comes in two types: oral and genital. Well, there are others, but they aren’t STIs, so we aren’t going to go into that here.
- Oral: caused by HSV 1 (or Type I) herpes simplex virus. Shows up first as a tingly feeling on the lips or near the mouth. Then cold sores show up. They hurt, and can easily be passed to someone else via kissing, sharing cups, or oral sex (mouth to genitals).
- Genital: caused by HSV 1 or HSV 2 (Type II) herpes simplex virus. Shows up as painful blisters on the genitals. They can be passed from oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
The real bummer? We don’t have a cure. Herpes can re-occur, or keep breaking out, after the first time.
The good news? There are treatments (medicines and lifestyle changes) that doctors can prescribe to help control outbreaks of the blisters.
But the best news? Herpes can be prevented. Use condoms, and if you have herpes, talk to your doc about how to have sex safely. Making sure you aren’t having an outbreak, and being honest with your partners can mean safe, enjoyable sex!