Using a new external (male) or internal (female) condom or dental dam every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex will reduce the risk of herpes being passed on. If either you or your partner has a herpes outbreak (blisters) it’s best to wait until the symptoms have cleared up before having sex.
Herpes can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys. To reduce this risk, avoid sharing your sex toys. Alternatively, make sure that they are washed and covered with a new condom between each use.
Use a new dental dam or latex gloves for exploring your partner’s anus with your fingers, mouth or tongue. Use latex gloves for fisting.
Wash your hands after touching blisters. This is especially important before handling contact lenses because herpes can cause an eye infection.
Talking about your sexual health and infections with your partner(s) can help you make decisions about safer sex together.
Having regular STI tests is one of the best ways to look after your sexual health. If you are having sex with multiple partners, it’s even more important to use condoms and get tested regularly. This is important even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the contraceptive pill or any other type of contraception – apart from condoms – won’t protect you from herpes and other STIs.
Having herpes could make it easier for someone to get or pass on HIV. For more details on herpes and HIV read our ‘in detail’ tab.