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Genital herpes: What to ask your doctor

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It cannot be cured, but symptoms of genital herpes can be managed.

Here are some frequently asked questions to discuss with a doctor or specialist nurse or sexual health clinic.

If you are newly diagnosed

  • What type of herpes virus do I have?
  • How long have I been infected?
  • Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?
  • How can I keep my partner from becoming infected?
  • Should my partner be tested?
  • How often can I expect to have symptoms? How will they affect my daily life?
  • Should I start taking medication? If not now, when should I consider it?
  • Will herpes complicate any other health problems I have?
  • Can I still plan to have children?
  • Can you recommend a support group or a counsellor to help me deal with my diagnosis?

If you are living with outbreaks.

  • Would I benefit from taking herpes suppression drugs every day, or should I take medication only when I have flare-ups?
  • Which drug would be the best choice for me, and why?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • What should I do if my medication causes problems or doesn't work well?
  • Is there anything else I can use to relieve my symptoms?
  • What can trigger outbreaks? Can I make lifestyle changes to help prevent them?
  • How often should my long-term partner be tested? How soon should a new partner have a test?
  • What should I do if I want to have children?
  • Should I join a clinical trial for an experimental therapy?
  • Can you recommend a support group or a counsellor to help me work through this?

If your partner has herpes.

  • If I have been infected, how long would it take for the virus to show up in tests?
  • Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?
  • How likely am I to be infected by my partner? What can we do to reduce the risk?
  • If I keep having sex with my partner, how often should I be tested?
  • If I become infected, would my partner and I have to change our sexual routine?
  • What symptoms should I watch for?
  • Can I still plan to have children with my partner?
  • What can I do to help my partner manage the condition?
  • Can you recommend a support group or a counsellor to help me come to terms with this?
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 10, 2018

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