Can Herpes Kill You? Common Questions

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When you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, fear is a natural reaction. You probably don’t know what to do, or what to expect. Unfortunately, this is a virus that is overly stigmatized and yet has little awareness and understanding in society. That can lead to some pretty far off-base misinformation. So can herpes kill you? I’m here to show you that herpes is usually just not that scary, and yes indeed, you can live a healthy, happy life with it.

Can Herpes Kill You? Can You Die From Herpes?

Can Herpes Kill You?

“Can you die from herpes?” is an understandable first question. After all, some STDs are pretty dangerous and without treatment, become deadly. But you will be relieved to learn that for the typical adult sufferer of herpes, the answer is simply no. For most people, herpes is nothing more than a skin condition — sometimes painful and often emotionally devastating at first. But all in all, for the average person, it’s not as big of a deal as our society’s stigma would lead you to believe. You will not likely die from herpes, and herpes will not shorten your lifespan.

However, there are some extremely rare complications that can occur from herpes, such as herpesviral encephalitis. This occurs when herpes infects the central nervous system, i.e., the brain. Cases like this are astoundingly rare. Most but not all cases are caused by HSV-1, the same virus that’s usually responsible for cold sores on or around the mouth. You probably know a lot of people with cold sores, but not a lot of people with herpes-caused encephalitis. You can read more about the condition here.

Most people actually living with herpes have come to consider it to be nothing more than an occasionally irritating skin condition. Please be assured that it’s possible to still enjoy a long, productive life.

Can You Still Have Kids?

Yep. You can absolutely still have children if you have herpes. If you become pregnant, your doctor needs to be aware of your condition. Essentially, you are more likely to have a C-section delivery. Your obstetrician will want to monitor your symptoms to make sure you don’t have an outbreak or any signs of one when labor occurs. If they have any doubt at all, they will perform a C-section to deliver your baby, healthy and herpes-free. Herpes can be transfered to the baby by contact with the birth canal or vulva while a herpes outbreak or viral shedding occurs. And since the immune systems of babies are not robust enough to handle a herpes virus, you and your doctor will want to use all precaution. (This is also why you must be careful with HSV-1 or cold sores on the mouth — you don’t want to transmit this to your child either through kisses, shared drinks, etc. Children just do not have the immune system for this yet. Talk to your doctor about any conditions you have or think you may have.

Other Questions

Living With Herpes

Some simple tips can help you live a better life with herpes. There can be a hidden blessing in this diagnosis, and that’s learning to listen to your body and take great care of yourself. You can reduce the risk of complications associated with genital herpes with some simple tips:

  • Be familiar with the symptoms so you are aware of an outbreak.  Be prepared to take action as soon as you notice the symptoms. You can use an antiviral medication such as acyclovir or valocyclovir, or try an herbal method. In my opinion, herbs and natural methods are wonderful for preventing outbreaks in the first place, and help you avoid toxic drugs, but in the event of an outbreak an antiviral medication simply acts faster to stop it. I’m not a doctor though, so please talk to yours!
  • Be aware of the limitations of medications, diets, and supplements. While medications can treat the symptoms of genital herpes, there is currently no medication that can cure this condition. This is also true of diets, supplements, and natural remedies — yes, even those on this site. We have so many natural remedies archived here because we believe in their helpfulness. Natural treatments and prescribed medications can help you feel better, be more comfortable, and may even reduce the risk of future outbreaks, but they simply are not a cure because of the nature of this virus.
  • Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection, but there is no reason to be embarrassed if you have it.  Don’t be embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid to discuss your condition with your partner. Be completely frank and honest with your partner, and be understanding if your partner doesn’t want to engage in sexual activity. It’s tough terrain to navigate, but it can be done, and it doesn’t have to be scary! Read here for tips on telling a partner that you have herpes.
  • The safest sexual activity during a herpes outbreak is none at all.  However, if you do engage in sexual relations, use safe-sex practices like condoms, dental dams, and monogamy. While it is wise to use condoms every time you have sex, never be without one if you have sex during an outbreak, which is when the virus is most contagious. I would suggest not having sex during outbreaks at all. More on sex with herpes.

Take Care Of Your General Health

When you do not have overall health, it can increase the risk and frequency of outbreaks.

  • Have a balanced diet every day.  Your general health will be better, and proper nutrition will strengthen your immune system. You’ll feel better, and be less likely to have an outbreak.
  • Have plenty of sleep every night.  Restful sleep provides your body with the opportunity to heal, and leads to less stress. And what does stress cause? Yep, more outbreaks.
  • Stress has a negative effect on your hormones and your immune system.  Try some new activities that help you relax, and participate in them every day.

Herpes is unpleasant, but these tips can improve your health and your life. So can herpes kill you? Nope, I think you’re going to be just fine. Now that you know you can’t die from herpes, it’s time to take steps to become healthier, stronger, and happier! Regardless of your age, you can look forward to a normal lifespan and a happy life. You can have minimal problems with herpes, or perhaps even no problems at all. It’s just herpes!