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Ask Men’s Fitness:
A woman I just started seeing told me she has herpes, but that she’s on meds for it, so I can’t get it. Is that true? If not, is it worth having sex with her if I might catch it? I know it’s not curable… – MARK P., EAU CLAIRE, WI
Pyschotherapist/Sex Therapist Tammy Nelson, PH.D
Today if you meet someone honest enough to admit they have herpes, they’re probably on Valtrex or acyclovir. Both suppress the infection, which reduces the risk to uninfected partners, including the risk from viral shedding, which occurs even with no open sores.
If you use condoms, the odds are low—about 0.4%—of being infected if she’s on antiviral suppressive meds; there’s also little chance of an outbreak. If there is an outbreak (symptoms include burning, itching, tingling, and painful open blisters, sores, or swelling in the genitals), avoid sexual contact for at least seven days.
It’s up to you to make the decision about being sexual with someone who has herpes and to know what medication she’s on and symptoms she’s experiencing. Open communication is critical if you want to be in a relationship going forward.