Talking to Your Doctor About Genital Herpes

You have a unique health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and experience with genital herpes. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

A diagnosis of genital herpes can affect your mental health and daily life. You may feel scared, anxious, stressed, or depressed. Talk to your doctor if you have these feelings, especially if they get in the way of how you are living or enjoying your life.

Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don’t forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification if necessary.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are talking about. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Genital Herpes

  • What causes genital herpes?
  • How did I get infected?
  • What are the signs of an outbreak?
  • How long will the outbreaks last?
  • What type of virus am I infected with?
  • How common is this?
  • How serious is this?
  • How is this different than having cold sores?
  • Are there any serious problems from this that I should be know about?

About Your Risk of Getting Genital Herpes

  • Based on my health history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk?
  • How can I decrease my risk?
  • How do I know if my partner has this? What signs should I be looking for?

About Treatment

  • Is there a way to cure this?
  • What medicines can help me?
  • How long do I have to take medicines?
  • What are the benefits/side effects of these medicines?
  • Will these medicines interact with other medicines, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already?
  • How often do I have to take them?
  • Will I have to take medicine forever?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?
  • Where can I get information on any new treatments or research?
  • How can therapy or a support group help me if there is no cure?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Just how risky is my lifestyle?
  • How do I tell my partner that I have this?
  • How do I know if I'm using a condom the right way?
  • How can I protect my partner?
  • Should my partner come in for a test and treatment?
  • Is avoiding sex the only way I can protect myself?
  • How will having this affect my relationship with my future partners?
  • Are there any dietary changes I should make?

About Your Outlook

  • How often will I have an outbreak?
  • How can I become pregnant if I have genital herpes? How can I get my partner pregnant if I have this?
  • Can I take the same medicines if I am or become pregnant? How can I protect my baby?
  • Where can I get more information about genital herpes and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
  • How often should I get tested for STIs or have checkups?
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References:

2015 Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/default.htm. Updated January 25, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Drake S, Taylor S, Brown D, et al. Improving the care of patients with genital herpes. BMJ. 2000;321(7261):619-623.
Genital herpes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114875/Genital-herpes. Updated February 19, 2018. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 8/10/2018

 

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