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How long before having sex again?

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How long after your initial outbreak did you wait before having sex again? There are no specific guidelines from what I've researched. I had my initial outbreak about 6 weeks ago, no new outbreaks since then but definitely still have intermittent itching, tingling, irritation daily (although it's very tolerable and mild for which I'm thankful) which again from what I've researched, is pretty normal and will likely continue to occur for the next 6 months to a year until my body adjusts. Not gonna lie, I'm a sexual person and I'm already feeling reeeaaaallly sexually frustrated having to go this long, lol. I have a friend with benefits who keeps asking me when it's "safe" for us to have sex and I can't really give him a straight answer other than the usual statistics and rates when using condoms and antivirals, but there's no information about whether its more "dangerous" to have sex in the first 6 months to a year vs. after a year even with proper precautions. Thoughts? I'm starting to get my first taste of being made to feel like a pariah and it sucks...

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The first 6 months to a year are when your body is busy building up antibodies to protect you more and more as time passes. So it is true that there will be more viral shedding during this time, which will make you more contagious overall. Hard to give a definitive number (or how long you should wait after your initial outbreak) since the transmission rates that are given in the handouts are averages across the board. 

With that said, don’t let yourself fall for the whole pariah storyline. You’re not a pariah. And you’re not “dangerous” either (that word over-exaggerates it for my taste). You’re someone who has a simple stigmatized skin condition that’s contagious. That's it.

Just be careful during this time as your body builds up immunity; be clear with your friend that you are more contagious, but that you will keep an open line of communication with him about any prodrome symptoms that might signal that an outbreak could be coming on. Other than that, it’s a risk that just comes with the territory, more so in this first year than for the rest of your life. Are you on daily suppressive therapy? That will cut the risk of him getting it in half; using condoms? Cuts it in half again. 

To put it in perspective, I believe people who know they have herpes are actually more safe than the huge swath of our population who doesn’t get tested and stays in denial about their sexual health in general. Awareness is the first line of defense in keeping any sexual partner safe. 

And finally, if he’s the one making you feel like a pariah or dangerous, then move on. There are plenty of folks who will respect you, even as friends with benefits or a one night stand if that’s what you’re after. 

Hope this helps! Hugs 

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Follow-up question: I've been on suppressive meds since my initial outbreak since I wasn't sure when my sex life would re-start and I wanted to be "covered" with meds in my system in case it was sooner rather than later since I do have 2 partners who are ok with still having a sexual relationship. How can your body build antibodies to the virus if it's being suppressed with meds? I've been on the fence about meds from the beginning because I wasn't sure if it was best to let my body try and handle it independently or to just stay on meds for 6-12 months to help my body out?

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Takimg suppressive therapy doesn’t affect your body’s ability to make antibodies, so no worries there.   

And you only need to consider suppressive therapy if you have bad/consistent outbreaks or you are trying to protect a partner who doesn’t have herpes. More on that here:

When I was single and not having sex, I didn’t take acyclovir at all and just rolled with the occasional outbreak. Now that I’m married to a woman who doesn’t have herpes, I take daily suppressive therapy to keep her from contracting it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mr. Hopp,

Question for you:  Since you have been in a relationship for a few years now and married, do you have unprotected sex with your wife now that you are on daily anti-virals?  

How is it possible to continue a relationship with your monogomous partner without infecting him/her using ONLY antivirals?  I am assuming this is what your relationship has manifested to, please correct me if i'm wrong.

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Yep, the unprotected sex part is how we got this 3-year old baby boy. 😉 She hasn’t gotten herpes yet and it’s a complete non-issue for our love life. (Having a kid is way more of a game-changer for sex than herpes ever was!) When I feel prodrome symptoms I just give her a heads up so we can both be aware. And when I do get an outbreak (which is rare these days anyway) I just playfully tell her I’m on my “man period.” 😂 So we stay away from direct hanky panky, but we can play a game where we can still hook up, touching everywhere but my underwear area. Super sensual. Even when penetrative sex is off the table, that just opens the door to exploring intimacy in other fun ways. Does that help?

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