Hooray! It’s STD Awareness Month! We’ve never met an STD we weren’t simultaneously repulsed and fascinated by, which is why we’ll be unveiling the five things you need to know about the most common STDs for your awareness and enjoyment. First up, THE HERPS.1. About 45 million people have genital herpes, caused by the virus simplex type 2. And a solid portion of that are women — about one in four, as opposed to one in five men. Simplex type 1, commonly known as a cold sore, can spread to the genitals through oral contact. Obviously, if that hot dude you met at a bar has a red sore near his pucker, you shouldn’t kiss or let him go down on you.
2. Most people don’t even know they have the herps because they don’t experience any symptoms — that’s also why carriers unknowingly pass it on to sexual partners and why so damn many of us have the gift that keeps on giving. Really, it’s more like the Secret Santa Gift that keeps getting passed around at the holiday party that no one wants.
3. But if you do have symptoms, they’ll probably appear within two to ten days of an outbreak, and would start with tingling and itching around the crotch, followed by pain down the legs. Red sores that scab could also potentially appear on the genitals or the anus, but, like I said, you can still give someone herpes even if you don’t have a visible outbreak.
4. People you would never expect can have herpes. Like the guy I was in love with when I was in high school! (Don’t worry, my love was unrequited so I’m clean as a whistle.) And Paris Hilton! (Well, maybe that’s expected.) The point is, herpes doesn’t discriminate. And just because someone has herpes doesn’t mean their genitals become a no-fly zone. Which brings me to…
5. You can still eff a dude with herpes. Though, given the suckiness of contracting herpes yourself, we recommend you really, really, really like/love the dude with herps that you’re boning. Most people with herpes only have outbreaks a couple times a year and that is when the virus is most contagious. You can choose to abstain from sex during an outbreak period or use condoms. Condoms are the safest way to protect yourself from transmission, but they are not 100% effective. There are also anti-viral medicines like Valtrex which can aid in prevention. Overall, the best way to protect yourself with a partner who has herpes is to always use a condom, even when there isn’t an outbreak, invest in some lube (which can prevent friction which can cause irritation), and be open and honest about your partner having the gift that keeps on giving in the first place.