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"You think your whole sexual story is over. It doesn't need to be." Here's how to date with an STI.

It can be a real minefield trying to navigate the dating world. 

Add an STI into the mix and a serious stigma surrounding sexual health related infections - and it can get a hell of a lot harder. 

And that was the exact issue a listener of Mamamia's The Undone podcast had when they asked hosts Emily Vernen and Lucy Neville for tips on how to manoeuvre the dating world after testing positive for herpes

Listen to The Undone's latest episode on dating with an STI - as Emily and Lucy pick the brains of Dr Ginni Mansberg. Post continues after audio. 

To help them answer this question and discuss all the ways we can practice safe sex, they brought on Dr Ginni Mansberg. 

Right now, there is no cure for herpes. So if you contract HSV-1 or HSV-2, the virus will remain in your body. While it can be pretty scary and intimidating news, know it doesn't rule out the possibility of intimate, healthy and sexually fulfilling relationships. 

Every single day, people around the world have contracted the virus and there is nothing "unclean" or "unsafe" about it. Around 75 in every 100 Australian adults have been infected with HSV1, and atleast 12 in 100 have HSV2. 

So, just know you are sincerely not alone. 

Here is everything you'd want to know about dating with herpes. 

1. "You think your whole sexual story is over. It doesn't need to be."

Herpes is common, and "incredibly contagious," but Dr Mansberg says it's important to ask whether you have type one or type two herpes before jumping back into the dating game.

"If you have type one herpes, you can relax... it's much less likely that it's going to become a huge problem for you. Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation about herpes out there and so much fear, that I have seen people run for the hills when someone is trying to do the right thing and disclose [their diagnosis]."

Jumping off from that, just know it is more than okay to have safe sex with partners - but make sure they are aware of the risks that are associated. 

2. Wear a condom. Always. 

Dr Mansberg says it's not only crucial to always include a condom when having vaginal or anal sex, but it's also a smart idea to make the assumption that anyone and everyone could have an STI and/or a sexually related infection. 

"Because STIs are so common... I think you should just assume everyone has one," she explained, adding that around one in eight Australians are carrying herpes and some studies claim up to 20 per cent of people have chlamydia

"Wear a condom, it reduces your risk [to STIs] by about 95-98 per cent."

Of course, that percentage is not the "perfect" answer, but keeping it on during sex "dramatically" reduces risk. 

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It's also advised to consult with a doctor about dental dams and other barrier contraceptives. They may never completely halt the risk of contracting an STI, but they can reduce the chances of infection in a big way. 

Watch: How are women having sex? The juiciest results from the Mamamia Sex Survey. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.


3. Be wary of relying on STI check-ups. 

For some of us, asking our potential sexual partner for proof that they have been tested and are all clear can be a form of relief for those anxious about transmitting an STI. 

Dr Mansberg says if that person has had sex with someone else between getting an STI test and having sex with you, then it makes that "piece of paper irrelevant".

She also notes that testing for herpes is "complex" and "doesn't help you with everything".

"A blood test shows you if your body has ever met and formed antibodies to the herpes virus," she explains. "But it doesn't tell you whether that herpes virus is active in your body right now, how long ago you've had it or whether you are admitting the virus from your genitals. It doesn't tell you anything other than that... It's not particularly helpful."

Additionally to this, it's best to keep a clear line of communication open. As 'un-sexy' as it may feel to plan a 'safe' hook-up or date, it's much better to be safe and prepared.

4. Be transparent.

Of course, there is difficulty in exposing such personal information, but it's something that is essential before any form of sexual intimacy, including kissing. 

It's okay to feel anxious about sharing this news with your partner. It's never easy to admit your status, but remaining open and honest in casual settings (AKA not in bed right before you're about to do the deed) is always the best way. 

And keep in mind that if they don't accept your diagnosis, then there's a chance they weren't a very great match, anyway. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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