Ask An Expert·2 min read

Not Sure How to Tell Your Partner You Have Herpes? Read This.

Two women sitting on bed talking
April 30, 2024

Being diagnosed with herpes can come with a host of adjustments. Add dating to the mix, and things can feel especially tough. But it’s important to be upfront about your diagnosis with a new partner. “[It] allows your partner to make informed decisions about their sexual health,” says Marcy Crouch, DPT, a board-certified women’s health physical therapist and @thedowntheredoc. Plus, delaying the convo can cause “trust issues and may increase the risk of transmission.”

But how exactly should you share your diagnosis with someone? Here’s Crouch’s advice.

When and how should I tell a new partner I was diagnosed with herpes?

Choose a private, comfortable setting where you both have time to talk. Be honest, calm, and compassionate,” says Crouch. “It's best to have this conversation before engaging in any sexual activity with a new partner,” even if you plan to use condoms or other barrier methods, she explains. That’s because they won’t 100% prevent transmission. 

It’s also helpful to have some facts in your back pocket, too — like how it’s transmitted and what you can do to reduce the risk of transmission, says explains. And feel free to “share what meds you are on, as well as risk factors on transmission when not in a flare.”

What exactly do I say?

Here’s a script Crouch shared with us:

"I really care about you, and before things get intimate, there's something important I need to share. I have been diagnosed with the herpes simplex virus, and I want to be open and honest with you about it. I understand if this news might be concerning. Take your time to digest it all. When you are ready, I want to talk to you about how we can still be intimate with each other and minimize the risk of transmission. This is a common diagnosis and there are multiple ways of controlling it. What can I answer for you?”

What questions should I expect someone to ask?

Crouch says to be prepared for Qs like these to come up:

  • How do you know when you are having an outbreak and how often does that happen?

  • How do you manage the herpes?

  • How often do you talk to your doctor about it?

  • How does this get transmitted?

  • Does this mean that we can’t do certain things when we are intimate?

  • What does this mean for our relationship?

Worth noting that “you don't have to disclose personal details about how you contracted it unless you're comfortable doing so,” says Crouch.

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