Itching, burning, tingling …. Oh no, you feel a cold sore coming on and you have a hot date tonight! How in the world are you going to cover it up? Maybe it’s better to pretend you’ve fallen sick with the flu or need to go visit your ill grandmother.
Whatever it takes to get you out of this date will be worth the white lie because you can’t imagine showing up to dinner with a blister on your lip. Your date is expecting you to show up with a smile on your face, but you’re probably not feeling the greatest with nasty fluid filled vesicles around your mouth. I highly doubt you’ll be smiling tonight, so it’s probably best to make up an excuse and stay in, right? Wrong!
Put that sexy outfit on, lift your head up high and head on out there. You’re not the first person in the world to have a herpes cold sore. Sure you won’t be kissing your date tonight – on the lips or down there – but herpes is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make you dirty or damaged, although society might make you feel that way.
Let me teach you about this common virus that affects millions of people worldwide. 80% of American adults carry the herpes virus (HSV-I), which causes cold sores above the waist, also known as herpes labialis. One-quarter of the population has the virus which causes genital herpes (HSV-II), AKA herpes below the waist.
According to Dating with Herpes, 45-60 million Americans have genital herpes. If herpes is so common, why are so few people comfortable talking about the disease?
Why do most people look for a place to hide when they get a cold sore going as far as cancelling job interviews and breaking dates?
Why in the world are people deathly afraid of telling their partner that they have genital herpes?
Although herpes is highly contagious, it is totally harmless in the majority of cases.
Aside from discomfort and mild pain, herpes is nothing to get all paranoid about.
Sure, once you catch it, you’ll have the virus for life, but it doesn’t mean that the disease will be in its active stage, and in many cases the virus remains dormant for years. Many individuals have such mild symptoms that they don’t even know they have the virus. These individuals are asymptomatic, which makes practicing safe sex that much more important.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I’ve helped many of my patients manage herpes (type I and II) – supporting them emotionally, providing them with the right nutritional protocol to support their immune system, and helping them discuss the virus openly with their partner. Communicating with your significant other can be difficult, but it’s 100% necessary. The only way you can protect your partner and avoid infecting them is by being open, honest, and straightforward. Herpes isn’t a deadly disease and you can have a healthy sex life, but you must be comfortable talking about your condition with them.
Sores and blisters only present when your immune system is weak, which makes it extra vital to take care of your immune health – proper diet, balanced hormones, stress management techniques, and daily doses of immune boosting supplements can go a long way.
The herpes virus affects every individual differently and some people are able to fight the virus better than others. So how can you keep your immune system strong and optimized to deal with HSV?
Here are a few steps that you can take:
1. Stop Worrying – Focusing on the disease is not going to help you prevent outbreaks. It will likely make your condition worse. In many cases, herpes becomes an emotional disease, affecting people’s mood, self-confidence, and ability to enjoy intimate relationships. Fear of passing on the virus to someone else can cause a lot of distress. My advice? Find a support group, work with a qualified therapist, or write your feelings in a daily journal.
2. Practice Mind/Body Medicine – Yoga, deep breathing techniques, and guided imagery will help take your mind off the disease. Your thoughts affect your physical health all the way down to your cells, so staying positive is an important part of managing herpes. Working with a Naturopathic Doctor can be very helpful as they understand the mind/body connection. They will support you physically, mentally and emotionally.
3. Eat a Clean Diet – Foods which are alkaline, antioxidant-rich, and nutrient-dense will support your immune system. It is recommended you avoid foods which are high in the amino acid arginine (e.g. nuts/seeds and chocolate).
There is some evidence that increasing your intake of lysine-rich foods can help fight the virus and many health care professionals recommend taking 1000 mg of lysine daily. Also, aim to keep your bowel movements regular by eating a diet rich in fiber and low in processed foods and sugary treats.
4. Take Anti-Viral Meds – While this isn’t my first recommendation to dealing with the virus, many people choose to be on suppressive medication to help control outbreaks, particularly those that carry HSV-II, the virus that causes genital herpes. Anti-viral meds that reduce healing time or help prevent outbreaks are hard on the liver and can lead to uncomfortable side-effects.
Although rare, side-effects include rashes, confusion, lethargy, and bone marrow toxicity. More importantly, suppressive medications don’t address the root cause and may create an immune system imbalance in the long-term.
I recommend alternative treatment approaches that address the underlying cause, not just the symptoms.
5. Use Raw Unrefined Coconut Oil – Human breastmilk contains monolaurin, which helps boost baby’s immune system and fight viruses, bacteria, and other invaders. The only food in the world (besides breastmilk) that is rich in monolaurin is pure, raw, unrefined coconut oil. Researchers are currently studying the effects of monolaurin against the herpes virus (both oral and genital herpes), along with other sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia and gonorrhea. So far, it is clear that monolaurin boosts immunity and prevents transmission of the herpes virus, when taken internally and applied topically.
Finding out you’ve been diagnosed with herpes or hearing that your partner carries the virus isn’t easy. However, it is important to understand that the virus is manageable and you can still have a satisfying, healthy sex life. Take my advice and keep your immune system strong. Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Sleep well. Cleanse your liver, lymphatic system, and digestive system with a detox program. And, stay positive.
Lastly, ditch your commercial lubricants and choose all-natural unrefined coconut oil instead. Products like KY-Jelly offer little to no protection against STD’s and can actually lower your body’s ability to fight sexually transmitted infections.
They can be highly disruptive to the bacterial flora in your body, particularly in women. Although lube is meant to reduce condom breakage, they can do more harm than good. Avoid creating a breeding ground for herpes, yeast and other pathogens by switching from commercial lubricants to all natural, 100% raw coconut oil. It will not only protect your sexy parts from STD’s, it also happens to be a very tasty massage oil that you can enjoy with your lover.
Cheers to enjoying a healthy, happy sex life!