Herpes myths debunked | Lemonaid Health


Editorial Team


June 26, 2024

A young man sitting on his couch with his hand on his head, reflecting on the personal impact of common misconceptions about herpes.

Medical Review by Andrea Eisenberg MD


  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both can cause oral or genital herpes. The virus can spread through various routes, including non-sexual ones. A herpes diagnosis doesn’t mean a lifetime of misery, as effective management strategies and support are available.
  • Stress triggers herpes outbreaks. To control them, lowering stress through meditation, exercise, therapy, and nutrition is a great way to manage herpes and improve quality of life.
  • Antiviral medications and lifestyle adjustments can help manage herpes symptoms. Seeking support from professionals, loved ones, and groups can help deal with the emotional impact. Accurate information and sharing success stories can change perceptions and reduce stigma. If pregnant, seek medical support to ensure a healthy delivery while managing herpes.

Understanding the herpes simplex virus

The herpes simplex virus is often confusing as it has two main types, HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Painter, 2005). While HSV-1 is commonly associated with oral herpes or cold sores, HSV-2 is usually linked with genital herpes. However, both types can affect different body parts, challenging the belief that they are entirely separate conditions.

Debunking herpes myths

  • Promiscuity and Herpes: Herpes doesn’t discriminate based on lifestyle. Various transmission routes, including non-sexual ones, highlight the virus’s opportunistic nature.
  • Cold Sores and Genital Herpes are both caused by the herpes simplex virus. HSV-1 can cause genital herpes and vice versa, blurring the lines between the two.
  • Transmission Beyond Skin-to-Skin: While direct contact is a primary transmission route, sharing personal items like lip balm can also spread the virus.
  • Life After Diagnosis: A herpes diagnosis doesn’t dictate a lifetime of misery. Many lead fulfilling lives thanks to effective management strategies and support.

The role of stress

Stress can be a significant trigger for herpes outbreaks, and it’s necessary to manage stress to control the frequency and severity of these episodes. Research suggests that stress management techniques can help individuals with herpes manage their symptoms effectively, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Therapy
  • Proper nutrition

By reducing stress levels, individuals with herpes can improve their overall quality of life and reduce the likelihood of experiencing outbreaks. Stress management techniques are a vital part of any herpes management plan.

Managing herpes

Living with herpes can be challenging, but there are ways to manage it effectively. Although there is no cure, antiviral medications are the mainstay of managing and decreasing the frequency of outbreaks. Along with lifestyle adjustments, these enable you to live a normal life. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, loved ones, and support groups can help deal with the emotional impact of a herpes diagnosis. With the right approach and support, it’s possible to lead a fulfilling life while managing the symptoms of HSV.

Overcoming stigma

The stigma surrounding herpes often causes more harm than the virus itself. It is important to share success stories and accurate information to change perceptions and encourage those affected to seek support and live without shame.

Herpes and pregnancy

If you have herpes and are pregnant, it’s essential to get medical support to keep your baby safe and healthy. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication and schedule your delivery to reduce the risk of transmission. With the proper care, you can have a healthy delivery while managing herpes.

Learn More

Learn more about Genital Herpes treatment available through Lemonaid Health.


Can I get herpes even if my partner doesn’t show any symptoms?

Yes, it’s possible to contract herpes even if your partner isn’t currently showing symptoms. This is due to viral shedding, where the virus can be present on the skin without visible sores.

Does the same virus cause cold sores and genital herpes?

The herpes simplex virus can cause both cold sores and genital herpes. There are two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Traditionally, HSV-1 causes oral herpes (cold sores), and HSV-2 causes genital herpes, but both types can affect either area.

Is it possible to have a healthy pregnancy if I have genital herpes?

Yes, many people with genital herpes have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. During the last month of pregnancy it will be necessary to take antiviral medication to avoid an outbreak at time of delivery. If you do have an outbreak at time of delivery, then a c-section will be needed to safeguard your baby. It’s essential to inform your healthcare provider about your herpes status to manage the condition effectively during pregnancy.

Can stress trigger a herpes outbreak?

Yes, high levels of stress can trigger herpes outbreaks. Managing stress through various techniques can help reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

  1. World Health Organization: WHO & World Health Organization: WHO. (2023, April 5). Herpes simplex virus. Accessed online April 9, 2024 at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus 
  2. Herpes – STI treatment Guidelines. (n.d.). Accessed online April 9, 2024 at https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/herpes.htm
  3. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). (2018, July 12). Genital herpes in pregnancy. InformedHealth.org – NCBI Bookshelf. Accessed online April 9, 2024 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525779/


Editorial Team


June 26, 2024

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.