STD Education

GENITAL WARTS

What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts are common and are caused by certain types of HPV. Genital warts can be annoying, but they’re treatable and aren’t dangerous.

Genital warts are caused by HPV

Genital warts show up on the skin around your genitals and anus. They’re caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). You might’ve heard that some types of HPV can cause cancer, but they’re NOT the same kinds that give you genital warts.

HPV can be a tricky STD to understand. It’s the most common STD, but most of the time it goes away on its own. Sometimes certain types of “high-risk” HPV can develop into cancer if left untreated. Other “low-risk” types of HPV can cause warts on your vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis or scrotum. Genital warts are common — about 360,000 people get them each year.

How do you get genital warts?

You get genital warts from having skin-to-skin contact with someone who’s infected, often during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Genital warts can be spread even if no one cums, and a penis doesn’t have to go inside a vagina or anus to get them. You can spread them even when you don’t have any visible warts or other symptoms, though that’s less common. You can also pass genital warts to a baby during vaginal childbirth, but that’s pretty rare.

Genital warts are different from warts you might get elsewhere on your body. So you can’t get genital warts by touching yourself (or a partner) with a wart that’s on your hand or foot.

You’re more likely to pass genital warts when you’re having symptoms. So if you notice a wart, it’s best to get tested and treated to help lower the risk of passing genital warts on to a partner.

What are the symptoms of genital warts?

Genital warts are skin-colored or whitish bumps that appear on your genitals or anus. You can also have the virus that causes genital warts but not have any symptoms.

Genital Warts Symptoms

Genital warts look like skin-colored or whitish bumps that show up on your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, or anus. They kind of look like little pieces of cauliflower. You can have just one wart or a bunch of them, and they can be big or small. They might be itchy, but most of the time they don’t hurt. Not all bumps on the genitals are warts. There are other infections and normal skin conditions that might look like a wart but are something else. If you think you have genital warts, it’s important to get checked out by a nurse or doctor.   

When do genital warts usually develop?

It can take several weeks, months, or even years after you have sexual contact with someone who has genital warts for them to show up. That’s why it’s so hard to know when you got the HPV infection that caused them, or who passed it to you.

You can get the virus and never actually get warts, so you could be infected and not have any symptoms. Some people only get warts once, and then never get them again. Some people have warts develop more than once (recurring).

If you get genital warts, you might think that means your partner has been cheating on you. That’s not necessarily true. It can sometimes take a really long time for warts to show up, so it’s possible that you or your partner might have gotten them a long time ago. Sometimes the virus lives months or even years in the body before turning into genital warts.

Fun fact: You can have the HPV type that causes warts and never have any symptoms yourself, but STILL give it to someone else. And then genital warts can show up on them. So knowing exactly when you got genital warts (and who gave them to you) is complicated. Talking with your partner and a doctor or nurse can help.

How do I know if I have genital warts?

If you think you have warts on or around your genitals or anus, get checked out by a nurse or doctor as soon as you can. Other STDs, like herpes and syphilis, can look like genital warts but need different treatment.

It’s also possible that the bump you think is a wart is actually a mole, skin tag, pearly penile papule, hemorrhoid, or other skin condition. Your doctor or nurse can often just look at the bumps and make a diagnosis — you don’t have to get a blood test or anything like that.

Once you get a checkup over with, it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have genital warts, the sooner you find out the better. You can talk to your doctor about treatment options and learn how to avoid spreading them to other people.

Where can I get checked for genital warts?

You can get checked for genital warts at your doctor’s office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Spectrum Community Health Center.

STD testing isn’t usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you have to ask for it. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Don’t be embarrassed: Your doctor is there to help you, not judge you.

Should I get treatment for genital warts?

That’s totally up to you to decide with your nurse or doctor. Your body’s immune system may fight off the virus that causes genital warts, and they’ll go away without any further treatment. But they may not, and can be uncomfortable and be passed to other people. If you’re pregnant, your doctor or nurse may want to remove the warts so they don’t cause problems during a vaginal delivery. Getting treatment also lowers your chances of passing warts on to anyone you have sex with.

What’s the treatment for genital warts?

There are several different ways to treat genital warts, depending on where the warts are and how much of your skin they cover. Like all medicines and procedures, these treatments can have different side effects, costs, and benefits. Talk with your doctor or nurse to decide which genital warts treatment option is best for you.

Your doctor or nurse can:

  • Put chemicals on the warts to make them go away or stop growing. Usually you get this done once a week for a few weeks at a clinic 
  • Give you a prescription for a cream that you put on the warts yourself for several weeks.
  • Freeze the warts off (cryotherapy).
  • Burn off the warts using an electric current.
  • Remove the warts with a knife or wire and electricity (LEEP).

Some of these treatments might sound kind of scary, but they all work by removing the warts, which removes any symptoms and lowers your chances of passing the HPV infection that caused them to anyone else. Your doctor or nurse can give you a numbing medicine to make you more comfortable.

By the way, over-the-counter wart medicines to treat warts that are on your hands or feet should NOT be used to treat genital warts.

Although there’s no cure for the types of HPV that cause genital warts, there is a vaccine that can prevent most kinds of genital warts and certain types of cancer.

What can I do after treatment to make sure I don’t get anymore warts?

Nothing. Genital warts can be treated, but they can’t be cured. You’re removing the warts, but you’ll still have the virus that causes them. The virus may go away at some point on its own, but there’s no way to know for sure. Some people will get warts again and others won’t.

After you get your warts removed:

  • Keep the area clean and don’t scratch it.
  • Wash your hands after touching the area where the warts were.
  • Don’t have sex if it’s uncomfortable.
  • A cold pack may make you feel better if the area hurts or is swollen. You can take over-the-counter pain medicine to help.

How do I avoid getting genital warts?

First thing, talk to your doctor about getting the HPV vaccine — most vaccine brands protect you against the types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts. That’s the best way to avoid any HPV-related problems, including genital warts.

Genital warts are spread from sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it — including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. So the only surefire way to avoid getting genital warts and other STDs is to not have any contact with another person’s mouth or genitals.

But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex really helps to lower your risk of getting any STD.

You can also avoid sex with someone if you see warts on their genitals or anus, because that’s when they spread the most easily. But remember, it is possible to get them or spread them when there are no visible warts, so it’s important to use condoms and dental dams even if everything looks totally OK.

And while there’s no genital warts test, getting tested for STDs at routine checkups with a doctor or nurse is a part of keeping yourself healthy.

How can I prevent spreading genital warts?

If you find out that you have genital warts, try not to freak out. There are a few ways that you can stop it from spreading to your partners.

  • Encourage your partner to talk with a doctor or nurse about the HPV vaccine. Most brands can protect against some types of the virus that cause most cases of genital warts.
  • Always use condoms and dental dams during oral, anal, and vaginal sex.
  • Don’t have sex when you have visible warts, even with a condom. There may be warts on places the condom doesn’t cover.
  • Stop smoking. If you smoke, you may have a bigger chance of getting warts than people who don’t smoke, and warts are more likely to come back if you smoke.
  • Always tell your sexual partners that you have genital warts before you have sex, so you can work together to prevent them from spreading.

How do I talk to my partner about having genital warts?

Telling someone you have an STD can be hard, but genital warts are common and they don’t lead to serious health problems. So try not to be too embarrassed or stressed out about it.

There’s no one way to talk to a partner about having an STD, but here are some basic tips that may help:

  • Keep calm and carry on. Lots of people have genital warts, and plenty of them are in relationships. For most couples, having genital warts isn’t a huge deal. Try to go into the conversation with a calm, positive attitude. Having genital warts is simply a health issue — it doesn’t say anything about you as a person.
  • Make it a two-way conversation. Remember that STDs are super common, so who knows? Your partner might have genital warts, too. So start by asking if they’ve ever been tested or if they’ve had an STD before.
  • Know your facts. There’s a lot of misinformation about STDs out there, so read up on the facts and be prepared to set the record straight. Let your partner know there are ways to avoid passing genital warts during sex. And you can also remind them that genital warts aren’t dangerous and don’t cause cancer or any other serious health problems.
  • Think about the timing. Pick a time when you won’t be distracted or interrupted, and find a place to talk that’s private and relaxed. If you’re nervous, you can talk it through with a friend first, or practice by talking to yourself. It sounds silly, but saying the words out loud can help you know what you want to say and feel more confident when you talk to your partner.
  • Safety first. If you’re afraid that your partner might hurt you, telling them in person might not be safe. You’re probably better off with an e-mail, text, or phone call — or in extreme cases, not telling them at all. Call 1-800-799-SAFE or check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help if you think you might be in danger.

So…when’s a good time to tell your partner about those genital warts? 

You might not need to bring it up the very first time you hang out, but you should let them know before you have sex. So when the relationship starts heading down that path and you feel like you can trust the person, that’s probably a good time.

It’s normal to be worried about how your partner’s going to react. And there’s no way around it: Some people might freak out. If that happens, try to stay calm and talk about all the ways there are to prevent spreading genital warts. You might just need to give your partner a little time and space to process the news, which is normal. And lots of people know that genital warts are common and not a big deal.

Try not to play the blame game when you talk to your partner. If one of you gets genital warts for the first time during the relationship, it doesn’t automatically mean that somebody cheated, or that one of you got them from the other. Warts can take weeks, months, or even longer to show up after you get the infection. So it’s usually really hard to tell when and where someone got them. The most important thing is that you both get checked out. If it turns out only one of you has genital warts, talk about how you can prevent passing them on. Tell your past partners too, so they can get checked out.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted infection, especially for teens and people in their 20s. Gonorrhea is sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip.”

Gonorrhea is spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The infection is carried in semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. Gonorrhea can infect your penis, vagina, cervix, anus, urethra, throat, and eyes (but that’s rare). Most people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms and feel totally fine, so they might not even know they’re infected.

Gonorrhea is usually easily cured with antibiotics. But if you don’t treat gonorrhea early enough, it can lead to more serious health problems in the future. That’s why STD testing is so important — the sooner you know you have gonorrhea, the faster you can get rid of it.  

You can help prevent gonorrhea by using condoms every time you have sex.

How do you get gonorrhea?

People usually get gonorrhea from having unprotected sex with someone who has the infection. Gonorrhea is spread when semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids get on or inside your genitals, anus, or mouth. Gonorrhea can be passed even if the penis doesn’t go all the way in the vagina or anus.

The main ways people get gonorrhea are from having vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex. You can also get gonorrhea by touching your eye if you have infected fluids on your hand. Gonorrhea can also be spread to a baby during birth if the mother has it.

Gonorrhea isn’t spread through casual contact, so you CAN’T get it from sharing food or drinks, kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on toilet seats.

Many people with gonorrhea don’t have any symptoms, but they can still spread the infection to others. So using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex is the best way to help prevent gonorrhea — even if you and your partner seem totally healthy.

Gonorrhea can be tricky, because you or your partner may not have any symptoms. Or the signs of gonorrhea may be so mild you don’t even notice them. Sometimes people confuse gonorrhea symptoms with other infections. Lots of people don’t even realize they have gonorrhea — that’s part of the reason why it’s such a common infection (and why it’s so important to get tested).

Gonorrhea can lead to serious health problems and even infertility if you don’t treat it. But it’s usually easy to cure it with medicine. This is why regular STD testing is so important, no matter how healthy you feel.

Symptoms of gonorrhea include:

  • Pain or burning feeling when you pee
  • Abnormal discharge from the vagina that may be yellowish or bloody
  • Bleeding between periods

People with penises are more likely to have symptoms if they get gonorrhea. The symptoms usually begin within a week after they get the infection. These include:

  • Yellow, white, or green discharge from your penis
  • Pain or burning feeling when you pee
  • Pain or swelling in your testicles

Gonorrhea can also infect your anus if you have anal sex, or you may spread the infection to your anus from another part of your body (like by wiping after you go to the bathroom). Anal gonorrhea often doesn’t have any symptoms. But signs of gonorrhea in your anus can include:

  • Itching in or around your anus
  • Discharge from your anus
  • Pain when you poop

Gonorrhea infections in the throat also rarely cause symptoms. If symptoms do show up, it’s usually just a sore throat.

If you or your sexual partner(s) have any of these symptoms, go to a nurse, doctor, or your local Spectrum Community Health Center. It’s especially important to get checked out if you’re pregnant. The only way to know for sure if you have gonorrhea is to get tested.

How do I know if I have gonorrhea?

You can’t tell for sure if you have gonorrhea just by the way you feel. Like all STDs, the only way to know if you have gonorrhea is to get tested — whether or not you have symptoms.

If you think you have gonorrhea symptoms, get tested. Testing is also a good idea if you’ve had unprotected sex or if someone you’ve had sex with has gonorrhea (even if you don’t have symptoms). In general, people who are sexually active should get tested for STDs, including gonorrhea, about once a year. If you’re pregnant, get tested for gonorrhea at your first prenatal visit. Want to know if you should be tested for gonorrhea? Check out this quiz to find out.

Luckily, gonorrhea testing is usually pretty easy and painless. The best part about getting tested for STDs? Once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have gonorrhea, it’s best to know right away so you can take medication and get better as soon as possible.

What happens during a gonorrhea test?

Gonorrhea testing can be as easy as peeing in a cup. Your nurse or doctor may test any discharge that comes from your urethra, vagina, or anus. Sometimes they’ll use a swab to take cell samples from your penis, cervix, urethra, anus, or throat. The samples are tested for gonorrhea bacteria.

Gonorrhea can have symptoms that look like other common STDs like chlamydia, so your nurse or doctor might test you for a few infections.

The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to relax. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. The good news is gonorrhea is totally curable with medicine — so the sooner you know you have it, the faster you can get rid of it.

Where can I get tested for gonorrhea?

You can get tested for gonorrhea and other STDs at your doctor’s office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Spectrum Community Health Center. In some states, you can do an online visit and take a gonorrhea test at home.

STD testing isn’t usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you have to ask for it. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Don’t be embarrassed: your doctor is there to help you, not to judge you.

What’s the treatment for gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is usually super easy to get rid of. Your nurse or doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Some strains of gonorrhea resist the antibiotics and are hard to treat, so your doctor may give you two antibiotics, in shot and pill form. Sometimes you only have to take one pill. Other gonorrhea pill treatments are taken for 7 days. Your doctor will help you figure out which treatment is best for you.

If you’re treated for gonorrhea, it’s really important for your sexual partners to get treated also. Otherwise, you may pass the infection back and forth, or to other people. Sometimes your doctor will give you medicine for both you and your partner.

What do I need to know if I get treated for gonorrhea?

If you’re getting treated for gonorrhea:

  • Take all of your medicine the way your doctor tells you to, even if your symptoms go away sooner. The infection stays in your body until you totally finish the antibiotics.
  • Your partner(s) should also get treated for gonorrhea so you don’t re-infect each other or anyone else.
  • Don’t have sex for 7 days. If you only have 1 dose of medication, wait until a week after you take it to have sex. If you’re taking medicine for 7 days, don’t have sex until you’ve finished all of your pills.
  • Get tested again in 3 months to make sure your infection is gone.
  • Don’t share your medicine with anyone. Your doctor may give you a separate dose of antibiotics for your partner. Make sure you both take all of the medicine you get.
  • If you still have symptoms after you finish your treatment, call your doctor.
  • Even if you finish your treatment and the gonorrhea is totally gone, it’s possible to get infected with gonorrhea again. Gonorrhea isn’t a one-time-only deal. So use condoms and get tested regularly.

What happens if you don’t get treated for gonorrhea?

Even though gonorrhea is common and doesn’t always cause symptoms, it can become a big deal if it’s not treated.

Gonorrhea can spread to your uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID might not have any symptoms at first, but it can cause permanent damage that may lead to chronic pain, infertility, or ectopic pregnancy. Getting tested for gonorrhea really lowers your chances of getting PID.

If you have a penis, an untreated gonorrhea infection can spread to your epididymis (a tube that carries sperm from your testicles), and can cause pain in your testicles. Rarely, it can make you infertile.

Having gonorrhea also increases your chances of getting or spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Rarely, untreated gonorrhea may spread to your blood, skin, heart, or joints and lead to serious health problems, or even death.

If you have gonorrhea while you’re pregnant and don’t treat it, it can be passed to your baby when you’re giving birth. This can lead to problems for the baby, including blindness, joint infections, or blood infections which can be deadly.

The best way to avoid all these problems? Get tested and treated early.

How can I avoid getting gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is spread through sexual fluids like semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. So the best way to avoid gonorrhea and other STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex at all.  But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. And using protection when you have sex really helps to lower your chances of getting an STD.

Getting tested for STDs regularly is another important way to keep yourself healthy.

How can I make sure I don’t give anyone gonorrhea?

If you find out that you have gonorrhea, don’t freak out. Gonorrhea can be cured, and there are a few ways to make sure you don’t give it to other people.

  • Tell your past and present sexual partners that you have gonorrhea, so they can get tested and treated, too.
  • Don’t have sex with ANYONE until you’ve totally finished your treatment.
  • Your sex partners should also be treated before they have sex with anyone, including you.
  • Once you’ve finished your treatment and start having sex again, it’s still a good idea to use condoms every single time you have sex.

Telling someone you have gonorrhea isn’t that fun. But the infection is really, REALLY common and can be easily cured, so try not to be too embarrassed or stressed out about it. Once you get the conversation over with, you can both get treated and get on with your lives.

 

HEPATITIS B

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection that can cause liver disease. It can be spread through sex. You can protect yourself by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and using condoms.

How to prevent hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus (called the hepatitis B virus, or HBV). It can be serious and there’s no cure, but the good news is it’s easy to prevent. You can protect yourself by getting the hepatitis B vaccine and having safer sex. If you have oral, anal, and vaginal sex, use condoms and dental dams to help stop the spread of hepatitis B and other STDs.  

How do you get hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is really contagious. It’s transmitted through contact with semen (cum), vaginal fluids, blood, and urine. You can get it from:

  • having vaginal, anal, or oral sex (using a condom or dental dam during sex can help prevent it)
  • sharing toothbrushes and razors (blood on them can carry hepatitis B)
  • sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
  • getting stuck with a needle that has the Hep B virus on it.
  • Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it.

Hepatitis B isn’t spread through saliva (spit), so you CAN’T get hepatitis B from sharing food or drinks or using the same fork or spoon. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.

Are there other types of hepatitis?

Yes, the most common kinds of hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is the kind that is most likely to be spread through sex. Learn about other kinds of hepatitis.

What is hepatitis C? 

Hepatitis C is a virus that can cause liver disease. Sometimes called hep c or HCV for short, hepatitis C can be a mild illness that only lasts for a few weeks or months, or a serious chronic condition that lasts your whole life. Hepatitis C can lead to serious illnesses, like cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, and can eventually kill you if left untreated.

Hepatitis C Transmission

The hepatitis C virus is transmitted through blood — most commonly from needles and syringes used for taking drugs. But hep c can also be spread from tattoo or piercing needles that haven’t been properly cleaned, by accident in a medical setting, from blood transfusions and organ transplants performed prior to 1992, and from a parent to their baby during childbirth.

Although it’s rare, hep C can also be sexually transmitted. Condoms work well to prevent spreading hepatitis C during sex. Talk with your doctor or nurse about getting tested for hepatitis C if you think you may be at risk.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

Hepatitis C doesn’t always have symptoms. If you do have them, you’re most likely to feel the symptoms 4-12 weeks after being exposed. Those early stage (acute) hepatitis C symptoms can include:

  • tiredness
  • pain in your belly
  • poor appetite
  • jaundice (when your eyes and skin turn yellow)
  • clay-colored stool (poo)
  • dark urine (pee)
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting

For some people, hepatitis C goes away without treatment after about 6 months. But for most people, hep C turns into a chronic (lifelong) condition.

Chronic hepatitis C rarely has symptoms. Most people find out that they have hepatitis C when they’re diagnosed with advanced liver disease. That’s why it’s important to get checked for hepatitis C if you think you may be at risk.

Hepatitis C Testing

Hepatitis C testing involves a blood test to check for hepatitis C antibodies. If the test is positive, it’s followed up with a test called an RNA test, which determines if the virus is currently active.

Hepatitis C treatment typically consists of antiviral medicine to reduce the amount of the virus in your system. There are also new treatments that may cure it. Your doctor or nurse will likely recommend that you avoid drinking alcohol and taking certain medicines that may harm your liver.

Hepatitis B often doesn’t show symptoms, and it usually goes away on its own. Most people don’t even know they have it. When there are hepatitis B symptoms, it can feel like the flu.

Hepatitis B often has no symptoms.

About half of adults with hepatitis B never get any symptoms. The symptoms can also feel like other illnesses, like the flu. So it’s possible to have the infection and not know it.

Symptoms of hepatitis B

When people do show signs of hepatitis B, the first ones usually show up between 6 weeks and 6 months after they got the virus. Hepatitis B symptoms typically last for a few weeks, but can sometimes stick around for months.

These are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis B:

  • feeling really tired
  • pain in your belly
  • losing your appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain in your joints
  • headache
  • fever
  • hives
  • dark-colored urine (pee)
  • pale, clay-colored bowel movements (poop)
  • jaundice — when your eyes and skin get yellow

If you have any symptoms of hepatitis B, it’s important to check with a doctor or nurse for testing. Hepatitis B usually will go away by itself, but it may become chronic and seriously damage your liver.

You should get tested if you’ve had unprotected sex or think you’ve been exposed to hepatitis B another way. You should also get tested if you have symptoms.

How do I know if I have hepatitis B?

Like all STDs, the only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis B is to get tested — whether or not you have symptoms.

If you’re showing any signs of hepatitis B, you should get tested. It’s also a good idea to get a test if you had unprotected sex or shared a needle, razor, or toothbrush with someone who has hepatitis B (even if you don’t have symptoms).

Your nurse or doctor will take a quick blood sample to test you for hepatitis B. It may take up to two months after infection for the test to be accurate — but if you’re not feeling well, don’t wait to see a doctor or nurse.

Where can I get a hepatitis B test?

You can get tested for hepatitis B and other STDs at your doctor’s office, community health clinic, the health department, or your local Spectrum Community Health Center.

Getting tested for STDs can sometimes feel scary, but once you get it over with it can really put your mind at ease. And if you DO have an STD, it’s best to know sooner so you can get the care you need.

STD testing isn’t usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you have to ask for it directly. Be open and honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help figure out what tests are best for you. Don’t be embarrassed: doctors are there to help, not judge.

It’s extra important to get tested if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Hepatitis B can easily spread to your baby during birth, which can be dangerous. If you have hepatitis B, your doctor can give your baby treatments.

Hepatitis B can’t be cured, but it almost always goes away on its own. There are medications that can help treat long-lasting hepatitis B infections.

Is Hepatitis B curable?

There’s no cure for hepatitis B. The good news is it usually goes away by itself in 4 to 8 weeks. More than 9 out of 10 adults who get hepatitis B totally recover.

However, about 1 in 20 people who get hepatitis B as adults become “carriers,” which means they have a chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis B infection. Carriers are more likely to pass hepatitis B to other people. Most carriers are contagious — meaning they can spread hepatitis B — for the rest of their lives.

Hepatitis B infections that last a long time may lead to serious liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer. About 1 in 5 people with chronic hepatitis B die from it. There are medicines that can help treat chronic hepatitis B infections.

Most babies who get hepatitis B during birth develop chronic infection, unless they get treated right away. But treatments are almost always effective if your baby gets them quickly. That’s why it’s important for pregnant people to get tested for hepatitis B.

How do I get Hepatitis B treatment?

Usually for adults, hepatitis B goes away on its own and you won’t need treatment. Your doctor might tell you to rest, eat well, and get plenty of fluids. You may also get medicines to help with any symptoms you might have — but be sure to talk with your doctor or nurse before taking anything.

If you have chronic (long-lasting) hepatitis, there are medicines you can take to treat it. Your doctor will tell you about your options and help you get whatever treatment you need.

What do I need to know about having Hepatitis B?

If you have chronic hepatitis B, getting the right medical care can help you stay healthy. Taking good care of your liver is important. Talk with your doctor before you take any prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or nutritional supplements to make sure they won’t hurt your liver. You should also stay away from alcohol, because drinking can damage your liver.

Hepatitis B is spread through semen, vaginal fluids, blood, and urine. Protect yourself by getting the HBV vaccine, using condoms and dental dams, and not sharing needles.

How do I avoid getting Hepatitis B?

The best way to avoid hepatitis B is to get the HBV vaccine.

Another way to help protect yourself from hepatitis B and other STDs is to use condoms and dental dams during oral, anal, and vaginal sex. You can use condoms for vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex on a penis. And you can use cut-open condoms or dental dams to cover a vulva or anus during oral sex. Getting tested for STDs regularly is another important way to keep yourself healthy in general.

Don’t share razors or toothbrushes, because they could spread hepatitis B if they have infected blood on them. And don’t share needles for piercings, tattoos, or shooting drugs — it’s SUPER dangerous and can easily transmit hepatitis B and other infections.

I have Hepatitis B. How do I avoid spreading it?

Tell your partner if you have hepatitis B, so you can talk about how to lower your risk of spreading it. Encourage your partner to get the hepatitis B vaccine, and use condoms and dental dams when you have sex.

Hepatitis B is spread easily during sex, so getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself. The vaccine is safe and really effective at preventing hepatitis B.

How does the Hepatitis B vaccine series work?

The vaccine protects you from the hepatitis B virus by getting your body’s immune system to make antibodies. Those antibodies protect you by fighting off the virus if it ever gets into your body.

Usually, the vaccine is spaced out into three different shots — called a hepatitis B vaccine schedule. One month after your first shot, you get the second shot. Six months after your first shot, you get the third shot. If you miss your second or third dose, get it as soon as you remember.

The hepatitis vaccine is super effective. It’s worked really well to lower the number of people who get hepatitis B every year.

Who should get the hepatitis B vaccine?

Most babies now get the HBV vaccine from their doctor as a regular part of their checkups. (Routine vaccination of babies has been recommended since 1991.)

Hepatitis B is really contagious. You can easily get it through unprotected sex or contact with infected blood or urine. So if you’ve never had the vaccine, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about getting it.

How safe is the Hepatitis B vaccine?

The hepatitis B vaccine is totally safe for most people. Most babies, kids, and adults have no problems at all when they get the vaccine. In fact, more than 100 million people in the U.S. have gotten the hepatitis B vaccine.

Like all medications, the hepatitis B vaccine may have some mild side effects: soreness, redness, swelling, or itching around where you get the shot, or a slight fever. But these things aren’t serious and usually go away pretty quickly. There’s an extremely small risk of having an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

If you get dizzy, feel your heart beating really fast, have a high fever, feel weak, break out in hives, or have trouble breathing, get medical help right away. But again, the risk of having an allergy is super small.

You CAN’T get hepatitis from the hepatitis vaccine.

If I already have Hepatitis B, can the vaccine treat it?

No. The hepatitis vaccine prevents hepatitis, but doesn’t cure it if you already have it. If you have hepatitis B, there are other treatment options.

However, if you recently got exposed to the hepatitis B virus and you haven’t had the vaccine yet, tell your doctor right away. The vaccine and possibly other treatment can reduce your chances of getting hepatitis B if you get it within 2 weeks after you came into contact with the virus. The sooner you seek care after being exposed to hepatitis B, the better, so try to get there right away.

Where can I get a hepatitis B vaccine?

You can get the hepatitis B vaccine at your doctor’s office, a community health clinic, the health department, and your local Spectrum Community Health Center

HERPES

What is herpes?

Herpes is a common virus that causes sores on your genitals and/or mouth. Herpes can be annoying and painful, but it usually doesn’t lead to serious health problems.

Herpes is a common infection.

Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. So chances are a few people you know are living with herpes.

Herpes is caused by two different but similar viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Both kinds can make sores pop up on and around your vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, butt, inner thighs, lips, mouth, throat, and rarely, your eyes.

Herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, often during vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, and kissing. Herpes causes outbreaks of itchy, painful blisters or sores that come and go. Many people with herpes don’t notice the sores or mistake them for something else, so they might not know they’re infected. You can spread herpes even when you don’t have any sores or symptoms.

There’s no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. And the good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, it’s not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.

What’s the difference between genital herpes and oral herpes?

Because there are two different kinds of herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2) that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. But it’s actually pretty simple:

When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 on or around your genitals (vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, butt, inner thighs), it’s called genital herpes.

When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 in or around your lips, mouth, and throat, it’s called oral herpes. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters.

HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes — each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. But it’s totally possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect either area. For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. And you can get HSV-2 in your mouth if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2 on their genitals.

How do you get herpes?

Herpes is easily spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. You can get it when your genitals and/or mouth touch their genitals and/or mouth — usually during oral, anal, and vaginal sex.

Herpes can be passed even if the penis or tongue doesn’t go all the way in the vagina, anus, or mouth. You don’t have to cum to spread herpes. All it takes is some quick skin-to-skin touching. You can also get herpes from kissing someone who has oral herpes.

The skin on your genitals, mouth, and eyes can be infected easily. Other areas of skin may get infected if there’s a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores. You don’t have to have sex to get herpes. Sometimes herpes can be passed in non-sexual ways, like if a parent with a cold sore gives you a peck on the lips. Most people with oral herpes got it when they were kids.  A mother can pass genital herpes to a baby during vaginal childbirth, but that’s pretty rare.

You can spread herpes to other parts of your body if you touch a herpes sore and then touch your mouth, genitals, or eyes without washing your hands first. You can also pass herpes to someone else this way.

Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also “shed” and get passed to others when there are no sores and your skin looks totally normal.

Most people get herpes from someone who doesn’t have any sores. It may live in your body for years without causing any symptoms, so it’s really hard to know for sure when and how you got it. That’s why so many people have herpes — it’s a pretty sneaky infection.

Because the virus dies quickly outside the body, you can’t get herpes from hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on toilet seats.

The most common herpes symptom are sores on your genitals or mouth. But most of the time there are no symptoms, so lots of people don’t know they have herpes.

Herpes might not have any symptoms.

You or your partner may not have any herpes symptoms that you can see or feel, or the signs of herpes may be so mild you don’t even notice them. Sometimes people confuse herpes symptoms with other things, like pimples, ingrown hairs, and the flu.

Herpes symptoms come and go, but that doesn’t mean the infection goes away or that you can’t spread it to other people. Once you have herpes, it stays in your body for life.

Genital Herpes symptoms

The most common symptoms of genital herpes is a group of itchy or painful blisters on your vagina, vulva, cervix, penis, butt, anus, or the inside of your thighs. The blisters break and turn into sores. You might have these other symptoms too:

  • burning when you pee if your urine touches the herpes sores
  • having trouble peeing because the sores and swelling are blocking your urethra
  • itching
  • pain around your genitals

If your genital herpes is caused by HSV-2, you might also have flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • swollen glands in your pelvic area, throat, and under your arms
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • feeling achy and tired

When blisters and other genital herpes symptoms show up, it’s called an outbreak. The first outbreak (also called the “first episode” or “initial herpes”) usually starts about 2 to 20 days after you get infected with herpes. But sometimes it takes years for the first outbreak to happen.

The first herpes outbreak lasts about 2 to 4 weeks. Even though the blisters go away, the virus stays in your body and can cause sores again. It’s really common to get repeat outbreaks, especially during the first year you have herpes. You might notice some warning signs a few hours or days before outbreaks flare up, like itching, burning, or a tingly feeling on your genitals.

Herpes outbreaks are no fun, but the first one is the worst. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less painful. Most people with herpes get fewer outbreaks as time goes on, and some stop having them altogether.

Herpes symptoms may be more painful and last longer in people with illnesses that damage your immune system — like leukemia and HIV.

Oral herpes symptoms

Usually, oral herpes is less painful than genital herpes and doesn’t make you feel as sick. Oral herpes causes sores on your lips or around your mouth — called cold sores or fever blisters. You can also get sores inside your mouth, but that usually only happens the first few times you have symptoms.

Cold sores last a few weeks and then go away on their own. They can pop up again in weeks, months, or years. Cold sores are annoying, but usually harmless in kids and adults — they can be really dangerous to newborn babies, though.

What are the signs of genital herpes in men?

The most common symptom of genital herpes in men is a cluster of blistery sores — usually on your penis or anus. Symptoms may last up to a few weeks and go away. They may return in weeks, months, or years.

Many people with genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed.

The first time genital herpes symptoms appear is called the “first episode” or “initial herpes.” Initial herpes symptoms are usually more noticeable than later outbreaks.

Symptoms of genital herpes in men may include:

  • blistery sores
  • burning when you pee if you have sores
  • trouble peeing if you have sores covering your urethra
  • itching or pain around your genitals

During initial herpes, symptoms may also include:

  • swollen, tender glands in the pelvic area, throat, or under the arms
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • general run-down feelings
  • achy, flu-like feelings

Initial herpes symptoms usually show up 2 to 20 days after you’re infected. But it may be years before the first symptoms appear.

Herpes sores usually heal in a few weeks. But the virus stays in your body – and it can flare up and cause sores again.

The only way to find out for sure if you have genital herpes is to get checked out by a doctor or nurse. If you have symptoms, they can tell you if it’s herpes by looking at or testing the sores. If you don’t have symptoms, they can do a blood test.

Spectrum Community Health Center, many other clinics, private health care providers, and health departments offer herpes tests and herpes treatments.

What are signs of genital herpes in women?

The only way to know for sure if you have genital herpes is to get checked out by a doctor or nurse.

The most common genital herpes symptoms in women is a cluster of blistery sores that show up on your vulva, cervix, or anus. Symptoms may last several weeks and go away. They may return in weeks, months, or years. A doctor or nurse can tell you if the sores are caused by herpes by looking at them or by testing fluid from the sores.

The thing is, many people with genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed. Blood tests for herpes are also available, and may be useful if you’ve recently had unprotected sex with someone who has it.

Not sure if you should visit a health center for testing? Here’s a little more info on symptoms of genital herpes.

Symptoms of genital herpes in women may include:

  • blistery sores
  • burning when you pee if you have sores
  • trouble peeing if you have sores covering your urethra
  • itching or pain around your genitals

During your first outbreak, symptoms may also include:

  • swollen, tender glands in the pelvic area, throat, or under the arms
  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • general run-down feelings
  • achy, flu-like feelings

Your first outbreak can happen anywhere from 2 to 20 days after you’re infected. After that, you may never have another outbreak again. Or you may find that you get one several weeks or months later. There’s no way to know for sure how often you’ll get outbreaks — it’s different for every person with herpes. Medicine can make them happen less often, and ointments can make sores heal faster and be less of a bother.

Your nearest Spectrum Community Health Center can help you figure out if you have herpes, give you other STD tests, and help you get treatment.

Do I have herpes?

You can’t tell if you have herpes just by the way you look or feel. Like all STDs, the only way to know for sure if you have herpes is to get tested.

If you notice sores on or around your genitals, get checked out by a nurse or doctor as soon as you can. Other STDs, like syphilis, can look like herpes but need different treatment. So it’s important to find out exactly what’s going on.  Ask your nurse or doctor if you should be tested for herpes.

What happens during a herpes test?

If you have blisters or sores, your doctor or nurse will gently take a sample of fluid from the sores with a swab and test it.

If you don’t have any sores, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether a blood test for herpes makes sense for you. But herpes tests aren’t normally recommended unless you do have symptoms.

The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. STD testing is a regular part of being a responsible adult and taking care of your health. And herpes tests are quick and usually painless.

Where can I get tested for herpes?

You can get tested for herpes and other STDs at your doctor’s office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Spectrum Community Health Center.

STD testing isn’t usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam — you have to ask for it. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Don’t be embarrassed: Your doctor is here to help you, not to judge you.

There’s no cure for herpes. But you can take medicine that makes outbreaks shorter and less painful, and can help prevent outbreaks in the future.

What’s the treatment for herpes?

Even though there’s no cure for herpes, there are plenty of ways to treat the symptoms and manage the infection. Herpes medicine makes outbreaks go away sooner and/or prevents them from coming back as often. Your doctor will tell you about the best treatment options for your situation.

If you’re having an outbreak, your doctor can give you medicine to help heal your sores faster. You can also help ease the pain by:

  • taking a warm bath
  • keeping your genital area dry (moisture makes the sores last longer)
  • wearing soft, loose clothes
  • putting an ice pack on the sores
  • taking a pain reliever like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

How can I prevent herpes outbreaks?

If you have lots of herpes outbreaks, your doctor may tell you to take medicine every day — this is called suppressive therapy. It can help prevent future herpes outbreaks, and lower your chances of giving herpes to your partners.

Whether or not you take medicine to treat herpes, taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress might help keep future outbreaks from popping up.

No one knows for sure what triggers genital herpes outbreaks. Other infections, surgery, sex, your period, skin irritations, and stress may cause outbreaks. Sunburns, injuries to your lips, or other infections can cause oral herpes flare-ups. Try to avoid getting sunburned if you have oral herpes.

Genital herpes outbreaks usually happen less often and become shorter and weaker after a few years — whether or not you get treated.

What happens if you don’t get herpes treatment?

The good news about herpes is that it’s not deadly or even very dangerous. It might be annoying, but herpes doesn’t get worse over time or cause serious health problems like other STDs can.

If you don’t get treated for herpes, you might keep having regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while.

There are a few reasons people may decide not to get treatment. They might not have that many outbreaks, or their outbreaks don’t really bother them. Or maybe they’re not having sex, so they’re not that worried about having herpes right now. Whatever your situation is, getting treatment for herpes is your choice.

Having herpes can make it easier to get HIV, because the sores give HIV an open pathway into your body. So always use condoms to help prevent the spread of both herpes and HIV.

Genital herpes is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Using condoms can help lower the risk of giving or getting herpes.

How to prevent herpes

Genital herpes is spread from sexual skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it — including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. So the best way to avoid herpes and other STDs is to not have any contact with another person’s mouth or genitals.

But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.

Herpes can live on areas of your body that aren’t protected by condoms (like the scrotum, butt cheeks, upper thighs, and labia), so condoms won’t always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.

Don’t have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because that’s when it spreads most easily. But herpes is usually passed when there are no sores or symptoms, so it’s important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.

How can I make sure I don’t give anyone herpes?

If you find out that you have herpes, try not to freak out. There are a few ways that you can stop it from spreading to your partners and other parts of your body.

  • Always use condoms and dental dams during oral, anal, and vaginal sex.
  • Talk with your doctor about taking herpes medication every day, which can lower your chances of spreading herpes.
  • Don’t have sex during a herpes outbreak, even with a condom. There may be sores on places the condom doesn’t cover.
  • Learn how to tell when an outbreak is coming, and stop having sex right when you notice these signs. You may feel a burning, itching, or tingling feeling that lets you know you’re about to get sores.
  • Don’t have sex until your sores are totally gone, and the scabs heal and fall off.
  • Don’t touch your herpes sores, because you can spread the infection to other parts of your body or other people. If you touch a sore, wash your hands with soap and water right after.
  • Don’t wet contact lenses with spit — this might spread your oral herpes to your eye.
  • If you have a cold sore on your mouth, don’t kiss anyone — especially babies, children, or pregnant women.
  • Always tell your sexual partners that you have herpes before you have sex, so you can work together to prevent it from spreading. Telling someone you have an STD can be hard, but herpes is super common and doesn’t lead to serious health problems. So try not to be too embarrassed or stressed out about it.
  • People who have herpes are twice as likely to get HIV as people who don’t. And people who have herpes and HIV have a much bigger chance of passing HIV to their partners. So it’s really important to use condoms to help protect yourself and your partner.
  • Finding out you have herpes can be tough, but it’s not the end of the world. Millions of people living with herpes have great lives and relationships.

What do I do if I find out I have herpes?

Finding out that you have herpes is a serious bummer. You might feel mad, embarrassed, ashamed, or upset at first. But you’ll probably feel a lot better as time goes by, and you see that having herpes doesn’t have to be a big deal. People with herpes have relationships and live totally normal lives. There are treatments for herpes, and there’s a lot you can do to make sure you don’t give herpes to anyone you have sex with.

Millions and millions of people have herpes — you’re definitely not alone. Most people get at least one STD in their lifetime, and having herpes or another STD is nothing to feel ashamed of or embarrassed about.  It doesn’t mean you’re “dirty” or a bad person — it means you’re a normal human who got a really common infection. The reality is that herpes can happen to anybody who has ever been kissed on the lips or had sex — that’s a LOT of people.

Herpes isn’t deadly and it usually doesn’t cause any serious health problems. While herpes outbreaks can be annoying and painful, the first flare-up is usually the worst. For many people, outbreaks happen less over time and may eventually stop completely. Even though the virus hangs around in your body for life, it doesn’t mean you’ll be getting sores all the time.

The best thing to do when you find out you have herpes is follow your doctor’s directions for treating it. If you’re having a hard time dealing with the news, talking with a close friend or a support group for people living with herpes may make you feel better.

And tell anyone you have sex with that you have herpes. It’s not the easiest conversation, but it’s an important one. Here are some tips:

How do I talk with people about having herpes?

It might feel scary to admit you have herpes, but talking about things can really ease your mind. You could lean on a close, non-judgmental friend that you trust to keep the conversation private. Parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and other family members can also be a source of comfort. Remember, herpes is really common, so it’s possible the person you’re talking to has herpes, too.

There are a lot of online support groups for people who have herpes, and the American Sexual Health Association has a list of support groups that meet in person. 

What do I need to know about dating with herpes?

Some people feel like their love lives are over when they find out they have herpes, but it’s just not true. People with herpes have romantic and sexual relationships with each other, or with partners who don’t have herpes.

Talking about STDs isn’t the most fun conversation you’ll ever have. But it’s super important to always tell partners if you have herpes, so you can help prevent it from spreading.

There’s no one way to talk about having an STD, but here are some tips that may help:

Keep calm and carry on. Millions of people have herpes, and plenty of them are in relationships. For most couples, herpes isn’t a huge deal. Try to go into the conversation with a calm, positive attitude. Having herpes is simply a health issue — it doesn’t say anything about you as a person.

Make it a two-way conversation. Remember that STDs are super common, so who knows? Your partner might have herpes too. So start by asking if they’ve ever been tested or had an STD before.

Know your facts. There’s a lot of misinformation about herpes out there, so read up on the facts and be prepared to set the record straight. Let your partner know there are ways to treat herpes and avoid passing it on during sex.

Think about timing. Pick a time when you won’t be distracted or interrupted, and a place that’s private and relaxed. If you’re nervous, you can talk it through with a friend first, or practice by talking to yourself. It sounds silly, but saying the words out loud can help you know what you want to say and feel more confident when you talk to your partner.

Safety first. If you’re afraid that a partner might hurt you, telling them in person might not be safe. You’re probably better off with an e-mail, text, or phone call — or in extreme cases, not telling them at all. Call 1-800-799-SAFE or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website for help if you think you may be in danger.

So … when do you tell your new crush about your herpes status? You might not need to tell them the very first time you hang out, but you should let them know before you have sex. So when the relationship starts heading down that path and you feel like you can trust the person, that’s probably a good time.

It’s normal to be worried about how your partner’s going to react. And there’s no way around it: Some people might freak out. If that happens, try to stay calm and talk about all the ways there are to prevent spreading herpes. You might just need to give your partner a little time and space to process the news, which is normal. And most people know that herpes is super common and not a big deal.

Try not to play the blame game when you talk to your partner. If one of you has a herpes outbreak for the first time during the relationship, it doesn’t automatically mean that somebody cheated. Herpes symptoms can take days, weeks, months, or even years to show up after you get the infection. So it’s usually really hard to tell when and where someone got herpes. The most important thing is that you both get tested. If it turns out only one of you has herpes, talk about how you can prevent passing it on.

Tell your past partners too, so they can get tested.

Will having herpes affect my pregnancy?

If you’ve had genital herpes for a while and you get pregnant, you probably don’t need to worry — it’s unlikely that you’ll give herpes to your baby during birth. But you should still let your doctor know you have genital herpes if you’re pregnant, no matter what.

If you get herpes while you’re pregnant, it’s a lot more dangerous — especially late in the pregnancy. It can cause a miscarriage or cause you to deliver too early. If you give herpes to your baby during birth, it can cause brain damage or eye problems. If you have herpes sores when you go into labor, your doctor might suggest that you to have a C-section so you don’t pass the virus to your baby during delivery.

If your partner has herpes and you don’t, don’t have unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex when you’re pregnant, since that’s the most common way to get herpes. The doctor might tell your partner to take herpes medication during your pregnancy so they’re less likely to pass on the virus. Check out “How to prevent herpes” to learn more about how to avoid getting herpes. 

Oral herpes isn’t dangerous during pregnancy or birth. But if you have a cold sore after you give birth, don’t kiss your baby until the sore is totally healed