While there is no cure for genital herpes, it can be effectively treated and managed with antiviral therapy and by practising safer sex.
Antiviral therapy targets the virus which causes genital herpes by stopping it from multiplying. This can reduce the length and severity of an outbreak, and can even reduce the chances of another outbreak from occurring.
Speak to your doctor about how antiviral therapy can be tailored to suit your needs. Generally, medication can be used in two ways:
Episodic therapy refers to the temporary use of antiviral medication during a genital herpes outbreak (or ‘episode’). By initiating antiviral therapy within 24 hours of the appearance of symptoms, you can reduce the length and severity of a genital herpes outbreak.
For this reason, it is important to speak to your doctor and always make sure you have your treatment on hand.
Using daily antiviral medication on an ongoing basis is referred to as suppressive therapy. The aim of this treatment is to reduce the number and severity of genital herpes outbreaks, while also delaying the time between the first outbreak and recurrent outbreaks.
An added benefit of suppressive therapy is that it reduces the risk of passing on the virus to your partner. In combination with the use of a condom, this is the most effective way of preventing transmission of genital herpes.
Other measures to reduce the risk of passing on the herpes virus include:
- Avoid oral sex when you have a cold sore – the virus can be passed on from the mouth to the genital area.
- Avoid sex as soon as you think any sores are present. However, be aware that the virus can still be passed on at other times because of viral shedding.