Healthy Living with Herpes

Many feel frightened and anxious when they hear the word ‘herpes’. As a society, we tend to feel scared or make jokes about this sexually transmitted disease (STD), rather than take it seriously. Perhaps because of this attitude, confusion exists about herpes and how it is different from other STDs.

Herpes is a viral infection, which means it is caused by a virus rather than bacteria. As a result, herpes is incurable with antibiotics, and the virus remains to exist in the person’s immune system for life. Depending on which part of the body the infection exists, herpes can symptoms in, on, or around the rectum, genitals, and/or mouth. However, not all cases of herpes show symptoms. In fact, most cases in Singapore don’t show any symptoms, and these people have no idea that they were infected.

For the brave individuals enduring this viral infection, here are the things worth knowing for living healthily with herpes.

Triggering Recurrences

Whatever triggers the recurrence of symptoms seems to be amplified by emotional stress. Although no researches have been made specifically about what triggers herpes symptoms, many health studies have demonstrated a link between weakened immune system and chronic psychological stress to affect recurrences of symptoms. If one has weakened immune system and need std screening in Singapore he or she is more prone to experiencing recurrences when infected with herpes. Therefore, reducing stress will greatly benefit a person with herpes.

Medication

Herpes is highly controllable in most patients, with the help of anti-viral medications. Three medicines are commonly available: Valtrex, Famvir, and Acyclovir. Other prescription drugs are also recommended for rare instances that the virus becomes resistant to common medications.

Recent studies show that Valtrex, and perhaps other anti-viral drugs, significantly reduces viral shedding and can potentially prevent transmission of the disease. Topical medication like Zovirax also helps control cold sores.

Fatigue and Stress

When a person feels tired, the body will have to work twice harder to keep up with day-to-day activities, which in result stresses the nervous system. The virus that causes herpes lives in the bottom part of the spinal cord called ‘ganglia’. And since the spinal cord is the central part of the system, the virus is part of it as well. Once the nervous system is stressed out, viral activity increases and outbreaks may occur.

When enduring an infection, a person should maintain a healthy sleep cycle, meaning eight hours of peaceful and non-chemically-induced sleep. Healthcare professionals and doctors can provide suggestion for improving quality of sleep.

Ultraviolet Light

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light—even from natural sunlight or tanning beds—is known to re-activate herpes infections. To avoid recurrences, avoid exposure to UV light as much as possible or use sunscreen with at least SPF 25 in the area where the infection exists. Infected people should also avoid sunbathing naked or using tanning beds without clothes on.

Essential Diet

Some patients benefit from elevated lysine and reduced arginine levels in their diet. Lysine fights herpes-infected cells by counteracting growth-stimulating effects of arganine in herpes-infected cells. Foods that contain significant amount of lysine are soybeans, milk, and meat. To further boost the body’s lysine level, take lysine supplements regularly, which are readily available in many Singapore food and health shops.

Sexual Interaction Between Partners

In any intimate relationship between two persons with herpes, either one or both of them have oral (type 1) or genital (type 2) herpes or even both. If both partners are infected, they may be carriers of different types and strains, and therefore could pass that unique strain to the other person. Thus, in such situations, the same precautions apply.

The doctor may advise not to get in contact with the infected area until it is treated and has totally healed. Likewise, those who have recurring cold sores should be cautious when doing oral sex. A man can wear a condom to prevent transmission of virus from an oral infection. However, the condom cannot protect the fingers, scrotum, or other parts of the body against the virus.

For women, they can use a female condom or a dental dam over the genitals to prevent transmission of the virus. Another alternative is to cut a portion of a condom and use it to cover the vaginal area.

Another important caution to remember is to avoid aggressive sexual intercourse, since vigorous thrusting can cause microscopic tears in the genitals, which is susceptible to transmission of virus.

Alternatives in Intimacy

A person with herpes can still have a fulfilling sex life even after an STD test shows positive result. As long as the other partner knows and accepts the risks of having sexual intercourse with the infected partner, it’s fine to have sex.

Otherwise, explore other means without having genital-to-genital interaction, such as using sex toys and mutual masturbation (masturbating together with a partner). Exploring them can enrich one’s sex life and make up for the need to avoid sexual intercourse because of herpes.

Treatment and Prevention

As of the moment, there is still no definitive medication that can cure herpes or prevent uninfected individuals from getting infected. However, researches for ‘Herpevac’ are being developed to help prevent the transfer of genital herpes. So far, Herpevac has passed the preliminary testing for its effectiveness and safety, and is currently in the final stage of clinical trials (on women only).

However, before having intimate relationship with a person, one should go through the preventative measure of making sure that both parties are safe from herpes and other infections, and an STD screening is the best way to confirm that. If inevitably STD testing appears positive, always remember that it’s still possible to live a healthy and normal life with these precautions in mind.