Getting through a new Genital Herpes Diagnosis

It is normal to feel upset and distressed as with any new diagnosis of a medical condition. Remember that herpes doesn't discriminate and you don't need to 'blame' yourself for what is actually a very common condition.

Make sure you have a follow up appointment with your doctor a week after your diagnosis. Ensure you are comfortable with the health provider you are using.  Your local sexual health clinic are experts in caring for people with herpes and provide free check-ups, resources and counselling support. You may wish to take your partner or someone you trust to your appointment with you.

Inform yourself with accurate, up-to-date information that can be downloaded from the New Zealand Herpes Foundation (NZHF) website.  There is also a herpes helpline 0508111213, which is a free service for all New Zealanders providing education and support . Use the Herpes Hotline for free advice and counselling to  reassure you about how a diagnosis may affect your current or new relationships.  Remind yourself that this infection will not affect your fertility, give you cancer or mean that you can't have a healthy, enjoyable sex life.   Herpes is  not life threatening and does not change who you are as a person.  You may find using a support group helpful:  reassurance can be gained through discussion with people who have a similar condition, the NZHF can facilitate this process.  If you experience anxiety or depressive symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks, your doctor can refer you for professional counselling with your consent.

The first herpes episode is ussually the most severe in terms of symptoms. Look after your physical comfort and after a few days you should start to feel symptoms ease.

Drink fluids hourly.  This will make passing urine less painful. Take pain relief regularly.  If you are a female, sitting in a bath or bowl of warm water may make it more comfortable to pass urine. If you are given anaesthetic gel, apply 5 minutes before going to the toilet.

Salt water or sodium bicarbonate in the bath or bowl may help relieve discomfort and promote healing. If you have lesions, dry the area with the low setting of a hairdryer. Wear loose underwear. Avoid using scented soaps or perfumed products on the area.

Remember, herpes is like any skin condition and can be managed with appropriate treatment.