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Sex with Dr. Jess


February 22, 2019

Sex & Dating With Herpes

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Courtney Brame joins Jess and Brandon to talk about sex, relationships and dating after an STI diagnosis. He shares insights on how to disclose, provides advice on sexual communication and talks about stigma, suicide and self-worth.

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Check out Courtney’s podcast, Something Positive for Positive People here.

Jess was also interviewed about the herpes stigma recently and we’ve included the notes from the interview below.

1. Why is there a stigma around herpes?

Sex is stigmatized and so all potentially negative outcomes of sex are intensely stigmatized. The unnecessary suffering that sometimes accompanies herpes is ultimately because of the stigma — not the virus itself.

Herpes seems to hold a special stigma that is not proportionate to its health risk. In terms of health, most people with herpes have nothing to worry about. Outbreaks are often rare, decrease with time and can be relived and surpassed with antiviral medication. You do want to take precaution when having sex (herpes can increase the risk of HIV transmission and be a risk when pregnant), but overall, it need not have a significant impact on your (sex) life since we all should be practicing safer sex.

Part of the stigma is reinforced by herpes jokes that don’t seem to apply to other STIs.

2. What steps can one take to alleviate the shame and depression that often accompany a diagnosis?

Know that you’re perfectly normal — and healthy! People contract bacterial and viral infections all the time (the common cold, flu, etc.) and they don’t hang their head in shame. It’s absurd that we see sexually transmitted infections as remarkably different from the ones that occur from not washing your hands properly after riding the subway.

I have a client who takes pride in smashing stereotypes and tells dates about her herpes when they first meet. She shares stats to normalize the conversation (1 in 5 Americans have it) and is armed with accurate information about its transmission (medication can reduce breakouts and transmission).

When you share the fact that you have an STI, know that their reaction is really a reflection of their own knowledge and comfort (or lack thereof) and not a reflection of their feelings toward you. If they are judgmental, fearful or express hurtful rejection, it’s likely a matter of their own discomfort (with sex generally – we stigmatize STIs that are easier to treat than the common cold) or lack of knowledge. I know it shouldn’t be your job to educate people, but it can help the conversation to unfold more smoothly if you provide accurate info about transmission, management and treatment. Many of the clients I work with say that the majority of their experiences have been positive – they’ve been met with positive responses from new lovers who appreciate and learn from their honesty.

3. If you don’t have herpes, what are some things you can do to help disempower the stigma? What are some things you’d suggest saying to a friend who’s been diagnosed?

Stop making herpes jokes. We’re all guilty of this. If you look back at homophobic jokes in movies from 10-20 years ago, it seems shameful. Hopefully we can convince filmmakers to cut out the herpes jokes as well so that we’ll look back and see how ridiculous, harmful and unfunny they really were.

If a friend shares their diagnosis…

  • Don’t ask prying questions (how did you get it? do you have an outbreak now? who gave it to you?)
  • Do research on your own. If you have questions, turn to reliable online resources (, and don’t expect your friend to educate you or answer all of your questions.
  • Ask them what you can do to help. Do they want you to look for resources? Do they have questions you can help with
  • Don’t tell other people. It’s up to them to share their health status with others at their discretion.
  • Ask supportive questions like, “How are you handling the news?” Let them talk and don’t offer advice unless they ask you to do so.
  • However they react, validate their feelings. If they feel it’s a big deal, that’s their prerogative; don’t invalidate their reaction with comments like “it’s not a big deal”. Even if it’s not a huge deal from a health perspective, they have a right to respond emotionally as they see fit.

This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

Sex & Dating With Herpes

00:00:05 – 00:05:08

You’re listening to the sacs with Dr Jess podcast sex and relationship advice, you can use tonight. Hey, hey, this is the sex with Dr just podcast. I’m your friendly neighborhood sexologist and relationship expert Jessore eilly here with Mr. Brandon wear. And thank you for being here. Thank you to desire resorts for your ongoing support of this podcast. We’re having good time with its desire resorts has multiple locations on the Mayan Rivera where Brandon hangs out with his wing note. Like, I get there and stripped down in ten seconds you chill out with your Dila, go. Yeah. What else you got you hung out with your? Yeah. Hung out with your junk out. Okay. Rock out with your cock out. There’s a story as to why can’t use the word. Cock very well. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever said it here Subaru awkward, so thank you. Again. Check them out desire resorts dot com desire experience. Now we were off last week because I was traveling. I was in Vancouver and Denver in Toronto in Jamaica for workshops in speeches and as hard as I tried. I just couldn’t squeeze in a podcast. I get super frustrated with myself, but can only do what you can do. It’s been a busy six weeks. I was counting it up, and I’ve had twenty two speeches eighteen direct flights not even connections. I’ve been in eight countries many morals your mouth, I think I’ve earned at least forty five thousand status. With the altitude and that doesn’t count the flights on the non Star Alliance brands. So I’m a little obsessed with my air miles just to touch in case you don’t follow her. Yeah. But I really like flying and Brendan didn’t ask the more important question. How many Dreamliner flights dreamers really nice plane? I don’t know if people no difference when you fly that plane. Yeah, it’s the seven eight seven, and it flies pressurize two thousand feet lower than the average plane. So a normal plane is generally pressurized at about eight thousand feet above sea level and it pressures at six thousand and they keep the humidity higher. They have a hep filter. So it’s a comfortable flight. You don’t even know you’re taking off or know just the field as bad. I don’t notice that. And they have those extra large windows that don’t have retractable shades. They just have buttons. So you lower and. Future. It’s the Jetsons. Today, we’re talking about not flying. But we’re going to talk about herpes because herpes has been in the news this week. I came across a piece suggesting that gene editing technology may eventually lead to a cure for her P’s now herpes STI sexually transmitted infection. It’s caused by the h s Vive iris and h v one tends to be associated with oral herpes or what we often call cold sores. I get cold sores. Do I I’m not particularly self conscious about them cellphones. When I get a cool tour. Yeah. I know our load up on drugs. Yeah. I don’t know why I’m not. I mean, I don’t like them they’re uncomfortable. And they’re not the prettiest thing I had one last week. I don’t even feel like anybody notices it. But me when you chip your tooth. If you ever chipped tooth or done anything around your mouth feels like I chipped my tooth once. And I felt like I chipped sixteenth. Anyway, objects in mouth are smaller than they appear. So HIV is associated with oral and then sorry h v one and h v two tends to be associated with genital herpes. But h v ones what we typically consider the cold sore strain. It actually can be spread from the mouth to genitals through oral sex. So some cases of general herpes are caused by h s v one. So when we think about herpes herpes is very common. The CDC reports that more than one in six adults between the ages of fourteen and forty nine has h s v two so the strain more commonly associated with genital herpes and one into about half of us have h v one so the strain that is more commonly associated with cold sores, but can also lead to genital herpes. And currently there’s there’s no cure for her piece, but you know, medication can ease the symptoms and lower the risk of. Transmission? And so I was reading about this, gene editing approach, which involves using mega nucleus.

00:05:10 – 00:10:02

I know Meghan. Remember number coloring, the nucleus and the might oh Qendra biology class do. Yeah. So they used mega nucleus to go in and attack a targeted area where the virus lives. So in the case of herpes. It’s it’s quite good at hiding. So the virus lives in hides hides from the immune system in the. Ganglia? So the each v one tends to live close to our ear, and then HSP to or general herpes tends to live in the dorsal root ganglia. So this these are balls of neuronal cell bodies that are hidden. So one is near the ear, and then one is down by by our sides near I guess near hips in. So the researchers say that they’re still a long way off from a cure. But they do believe they can find one in our lifetime. And I think it’s interesting that they’re doing this research, partly because herpes is not a particularly threatening virus in terms of how it affects most people’s daily lives and most people find that with herpes. It’s the social stigma that is way worse than the symptoms themselves over a period of time people with easier outbreaks tend to be less common, unless intense, I was gonna say that I think the. Sigma is probably the biggest and don’t get me wrong. I’m sure that the symptoms and are they could be painful, they could be uncomfortable. But I feel like there’s a real social stigma associated with it. Well, even with cold sores, you said, you feel quite self conscious. So if the cold sore was like, I don’t know under your arm where nobody would see it would bother wouldn’t bother me as much. It’s just like bam right there urban knows. Yeah. And herpes is it’s the butt of so many jokes. It’s framed as this ultimate marker of an absurdly so a marker of poor moral, compass or sexual hygiene. And this is this is so absurd. It’s harmful to the self esteem, and to to the psychological health of so many people I wanted to make jokes. You started this in all seriousness because of we ERM as the store I wanted to maybe classy class it up a little bit inculded Pez, right? And these joke. Wchs. Take toll because you know, if we put six of his in a room, there’s this probability that one of us is living with it. And so we need to all be more more sensitive. Now joining us today to talk about dating after a diagnosis from the moment of disclosure to the long-term after care is Courtney Brehm, founder of something positive for positive people and dating positives spokesperson, thanks for being here. Courtney so much for having me. Now, I’m I’m interested in your podcast in your work and mostly in your journey. How did you find yourself working in the field at where you are at this point in time? So something positive for positive people is a podcast, which is just a lot of resources for people who need emotional aftercare after an SE Di diagnosis because a lot of medical professionals will diagnose you with SEI and treat you practically giving a medication that you need. And submit send you off with information for the SE D. And then afterwards it kinda left on your own with a lot of Google searching or figuring out how to manage it afterwards. So the pike cast itself began two years ago, but the beginning of the whole story here of how it started was about seven years ago when I was diagnosed with genital HSB too. So I spent four or five years in and out of the same relationships just because it was easy. It was much easier to not have to worry about having to have the disclosure conversation. And then after that of how myself out dating world and having to deal with disclosing, and eventually I came across dating sites for people were living with us. He is and one of the early interactions that I had on there was with someone who had tested positive for herpes as well. This is someone who was already in a relationship. Ship was in their career. And it really seemed like it was something that wouldn’t affect our at all. But she was more. So looking for experience from a male perspective. So that she could prepare herself and her partner for when or if he were to test positive for genital herpes if he would have an outbreak or begin to show symptoms. She just wanted to be prepared because he was very just not really worried about it until it came up.

00:10:02 – 00:15:02

So she was very obsessive about it. And she and I did up becoming what I thought pretty good friends, and she confessed to me she confided in me that at some point she had contemplated suicide and to me. I was just weird. But I noticed after hearing it that’s kinda like when you see there’s a car you want. And you’re like, oh, I want this red Volkswagen. And then everywhere you go. You see a red Volkswagen began to just see in a lot of the like. Unity’s hours apart of that. There were many people who wanted to who at least considered committing suicide after nature’s V diagnosis in at the time. It was like, you know, one of the worst things in it takes hindsight for me to realize. But one of the worst injured you can say somebody is it’s not that big a deal. It’s not the end of world. And I had a fortunately learn this. But one of the things that I found to be useful was not my experience et. Well, here’s what I’m going through. And it is not that bad. But when I did was a reached out to some of the local communities, and I was in and just asked if anyone will be willing to have a conversation with me and allow me to record it and share with this particular individual found lady on the first episode of something positive for positive people. It’s called or you have herpes. Well, my legs don’t work. So Amy was someone who was married. Her husband, cheated on her and she. She ended up testing positive for her Bs, and he left. So she tells that whole entire story. And from that point I got to we were face to face. And I got to see just how this was maybe the first time that she had spoken anyone about it. And you could see her mood changed from being nervous. She had. No, she was so prepared and we labs we cried a little bit. We got sad. But ultimately at the end of Usov, it her spirits were lifted just talking about it. So from there, I took the pie cast into tour and started sending it to a couple of other people who may have expressed that they wanted to commit suicide in at the sharing a few places. Other people wanted to get involved with an industry their story it began as people sharing Madame Asli of just talking about what their experience has been. And it was just something the show people that you can have a completely normal life after a positive STI diagnosis, so. From there. We got all kinds of stories from people who specifically were living with her as in the beginning, and then kind of branched out into people with HIV aids HPV, and that’s where we are now and people telling their stories must help too. Not only stigmatize. But the shroud of secrecy is so powerful and scary that just speaking the words must be freeing for so many people not only hearing other people’s stories, but being able to tell your own. Yes. Absolutely. So when people I’m finding that people when they express it in here themselves say a lot of the things that they say about themselves or what they believe to be true about themselves out loud. They begin the you can kind of see it in their faces that they are beginning to question or challenge their beliefs about that. And a lot of times when people are diagnosed we tend to associate ourselves with herpes stigma, and we look at it as oh, you’re dirty. You’re grows you aren’t safe. And these are the things that we attach identity to and that’s how we begin to just see ourselves. Right. And of course, you’re more than your your diagnosis. Absolutely. Absolutely. And in talking to the people spoken to they come to realize that just through ask them questions about what what else was going on. And this is interesting ’cause I’m not a psychologist or a mad in any way, shape or form a therapist or anyone who can diagnose people with anything. But when I talk to people, and I see that a lot of the a lot of what’s affecting them is based on what’s around the herpes diagnosis specifically. So it’s not really the diagnosis it self. It’s usually some something along the lines of like, okay, while I was in and out of abusive relationships or I was around about toxic people. And when you begin the work on those things you start to realize that you see the truth about herpes and says, oh, the moist thing to most people about. Herpes is to stigma itself. And it’s not that this is who you are. It’s more. So of you just have to deal with all of those things around it. I’m so curious about everything the power of discussing it in and just putting it out there.

00:15:02 – 00:20:02

But how did it change any of your relationships like friends men or women that you had pre existing? And then after you came to listen, I this is my diagnosis. This is what I have it. Did anybody change how they interacted with you? No, surprisingly out say that if anything I think that it opened the door for better connections with the people who were around me when I first was diagnosed or just a handful of people who told initially up when I was on one to know where it came from. So after asking anyone sexually involved with no one said that they had it. So as I hey, you know, she’s diagnosed herpes, do you have it? I just wanted to make sure that you know, and everyone said, no. So it was like, okay. Well, I don’t really have a finger pointed anyway, and after that dealing with the first few people are disclosure, which were just more recent partners of people who’ve already known me, I was in those relationships, and there really wasn’t a reason for me to have to tell anyway. So I just didn’t I didn’t look for any support groups a managed the any outbreak Dami of had I had medication on hand for its of a hat and outbreak. I would just take. Medication and we’d be good and two three days and the first person when a disclose to or went to disclose who was probably my best friend. I remember when we were playing video games online. And he told me man, I got a girl pregnant we were at the time, and I go, well, at least ain’t herpes we kinda laughed about that for a little while. But that was just how that first disclosure went from you or one of the first disclosures went for me. And it was it didn’t change our relationship. You know, yet a few questions about it. And or anything we talked about his situation about having children. But I began I learned and this is again in hindsight. But as time went on and began to disclose to people around me after disclosing, I think that they were they realized a lot of things made sense. So while I was dating, for example, we go out with groups of friends, and we’d be soc. Allies ING, and I would be weird around women, and it a hate that it took for me to have high site in order to realize this. But it was one of those things where it gets a certain point in the interaction and not just be like, I don’t wanna have to worry about telling this person that I have hurt in order to move forward. So I’m gonna just like so consciously talk myself out of this interaction. But for the most part every friend that I’ve disclosed who no one’s judge and since opening up about during his podcast publicly. I’ve got nothing but positive feedback which was very surprising to me because I did initially think that I would get a lot of criticism or people would look at me different. But I was met with more metoo than I expected I was met with a lot of just positivity and people began to share the pike has with people. They knew who had herpes or just ask me to talk to someone and a lot of it just became it was the relationship. It’s just they deepen because I was able to connect with so many more people on a deeper level. That’s really interesting. But how how’s it changed dating or casual sex? I mean, how’s it changed that for you? Personally, when you’re thinking about getting into a relationship or going out only because I’m thinking about it, as you know, somebody who’s younger who’s diagnosed in like, you said before how catastrophic can feel how did how did that change for you? Once you had the diagnosis. So once it what changed for me was I don’t think I’ve ever had the conversation about SEI’s before I had an STI, and you would think that it would be the complete opposite way to where like, okay, I don’t want to get SEI. So I’m going to have this conversation. But it was after my diagnosis there became like, a moral responsibility to disclose and then begin to ask questions and oftentimes. People who have herpes will begin to to turn it on themselves. Be like, oh my God. I don’t want to disclose it. I have herpes because the other person could reject me and you find yourself in this state of like empowerment because you are aware of what your status is. And you can now as people. Okay. Well are wins. The last time you’ve been test for any STI I was just I have genital herpes or whatever it is living with and it begins that conversation, and that’s a conversation. We should all be having regardless of status. And I think it’s very important note to highlight that we do not talk about stuff until something is awry, and we see the same thing in so many different facets of our relationship.

00:20:02 – 00:25:02

Couples don’t get help with their relationships until they’ve been struggling with an issue for a very long time. They don’t talk about finances until it becomes a fight. They don’t talk about sexual expectations until the conflict or miss. Snatch arises when in fact, we should all be talking about these things from the onset. So it sounds like your diagnosis has taught you to be a better sexual communicator, probably beyond simply safer sex over. Sure for sure, and it’s opened the door for a much more intimate for much more intimate relationships not just sexually. But you when you are living with something that they’re shame around. There’s a time period where you wanna feel people out and decide whether or not they’re worth disclosing too. So is this someone who I see myself becoming physically intimate with? And now you have to ask questions and gets no someone pay attention on their mannerisms you become more picky. If you use this thing in the right way, you definitely become more picky with your partners, and you establish connections that are deeper than just a physical level. Oftentimes before you move into a now don’t. Give me runner. Definitely people who you know, would rather or their opportunities that present themselves to hook up. But for the most part, I’ll say that the diagnosis this Omnia. Very uncomfortable are uncomfortable conversations with people and really gets know who they are. I love that. I love the the fact that it’s forcing it’s forced you to have uncomfortable conversations. But you’re saying you’ve taken so much positive out of that. And it seems to be this underlying trend with everything revolving around sex and relationships is pushing the boundaries of these conversations often results in such fruitful outcomes. And I really appreciate that. You are seeing more value in yourself and saying is this person worth the emotional S investment for me. Whereas perhaps when people are I I ag- nosed. They are not feeling as worthy. They’re feeling this personal shame. They feel that perhaps they should stay in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling for them. Because they don’t want the hassle of the fear the risk of disclosing to someone new which really devalued themselves. So I really appreciate that emphasis on signing greater value to yourself because you have to invest in a different way. And when you when you talk about disclosure, I know that there is not one right way to disclose. But I’d love to hear your insights on what works for you. So I will say that it it depends on the person. It depends on who you are. And what you’re most comfortable with for me. I’ve been with my current partner for almost a year and a half now. And when I disclose to her it was over text message, and I’ve had much experience in what works and doesn’t work as far as closures go. But for her I was already doing this podcast. And so what I try to do was get her to ask me about it. And she just wouldn’t. So I was like, yeah. You know, I gotta do this thing. And she’s oh. What they must be important. I’m like, yeah. I’m gonna be talking to people interviewing, someway, she goes. Oh, well, good luck. With hope it worked as she just wouldn’t add. So I had to just come out with it later on in the conversation. I just went. Hey, I see that. You’re someone not like, and I think that the feeling is mutual. So before you fall madly in love with me because I’m assuming. I wanna make sure that I give you a choice that wasn’t given to me. And I wish I say text message. But I know that that was somewhere in there that I wanna give you the choice that was not given to me before it becomes too challenging for you to make a choice that you really wanna make. I have genital HIV too. Which is virus causes herpes outbreaks. And here’s what it means for me. And here’s what it means for you. So we decided to move forward physically with an intimate relationship. And I hit send on text message. I was at my grandmother’s house plan devil may cry. And my mom was sitting on the couch. I remember this so vividly, and my mom’s rose you just had to sit in that tastes. And she knew what I was talking about. So and as the kind of relationship, my mother, and I have so what seems like hours was actually maybe fifteen minutes that went by she sends long text response back. And ultimately, she was you’re saying I have to. Here’s I understand is what I go through. I know how challenging his conversation. She can be have. But I also have it. And so you can imagine we got together very shortly after that. And I think that was a that. We probably started dating interesting. And so it is it’s a fairly common virus when we look at HSBC whether it be h v one or two, and so when you even look at the numbers, it’s not it.

00:25:02 – 00:30:01

It’s fairly likely that somebody else might have it to or has had an STI many of us have had S T is most of us have some some form of h Peavey at some point in time. And so we just we need to de-stigmatising. I wanna talk a little bit about how we combat the stigma, and how how do you feel when people make herpes jokes because they’re everywhere. I know that in the past. I mean, I’m guilty of having made them, and you know, now, I’m the sex educator. So how does it feel when people joke around about herpes or make it the butt of a joke? I don’t see it anymore. Surprisingly kinda like before I became a personal trainer. Everybody asked me. Hey, you a personal trainers. Like, no. And now that I am what nobody asks anymore. But now that I’m so open about having herpes. I think that what it does is you you kinda showed people who were around you that everyone may know someone who has herpes in was. During to a lot of people in my circle or even on Facebook or not opened up about it on their everyone knows somebody who is living with her. And I think that we can begin to stigmatize it almost right away. If everyone just had that realization like, oh, I know somebody who does have her piece in. Here’s what it means. And whenever I am faced. I think there were two times and news like big media conversations. Like, the usher Dane came up and NBA young boy was a rapper made song or about having herpes. And there was someone on Instagram who was making jokes about NBA young boy coming out about having herpes. And so I I went to the comments, and is what everyone says don’t do not going to comment, and I’m like while people are asshole. So I just comment on a, hey, what you’re saying is incorrect, that’s not how this works. And then I just left it at that in reply while how. Is it works took this opportunity to put this whole entire paragraph and shared a few statistics, which I usually stay away from because they’re so conflicting in our always changing in the language around. It makes it very challenging as well. Because a lot of people think that you can h v one is always oral and h we to is always genital in that you can’t get one in the other location. So this will say things like genital herpes, the population this much of the population has or HIV to this much of the population has so it makes it challenging to have a conversation with someone around statistics. And then they go home and do their Google searches in c completely different language, which may make it look like to them that you’re trying to make yourself feel better about having it by saying that more people have herpes, then they really do. So when I try to do is whenever I see it publicly if someone’s making. Any kind of herpes joke. I’ll ask questions, you know. I don’t anyone can ask questions. I all why do you think that I had someone I was training and played ushers new album. And I was really pumped about this. Usher album, CLYDE goes into was very is. She didn’t know at the time. And I’m sure she doesn’t know yet. But she goes. Yeah. I don’t wanna listen to that herpes something along those lines. I was like listen. That’s not hot air words. But you listen to our Kelly row, right? Yeah. I don’t know if that was the case for her art not the artist until. Right. Exactly. So good in the album. Good. I think it was just called a, but that conversation it was a relevant for me to go into the whole. Well, I have heard that way. And then it would have just made our couple uncomfortable. But it was one of those things like that’s how that works. Here’s high words, you’re not gonna catch herpes listening. Usher. So it’s just a matter of being to. Combat ignorance, so you don’t have to necessarily get confrontational with anyone. You can ask questions you can see where their heads that. And then you can go from there another time that I was combated with something. This was more on a first date with someone. We met up. We were in line to go into the place that we’re going to eat at and while we’re in line. I’m just making conversation talk about my time lived in Houston, Texas for three years, and I moved back on the Saint Louis, Missouri. And in the line, I’m just telling their all you knows in this support group for just like men who was a men’s group. And one of the guys was talking a lot of guys just have issues around dealing with people. And one of the guys is like, yeah, I have so much sex. I’d I have a problem not getting women and the other guys are like screw you do as she cut me off. And before I even make it to the point of the story in his life.

00:30:02 – 00:35:04

He’s bring home and as he d-, okay? Okay. Where we here. So that was it. So it’s a really good way of recognizing very judgmental people as well. And I know that those aren’t the kinds of people who fit well into my life, and the kind of person I am mine defy yet that that makes so much sense. I really appreciate that. You’re saying that one of the best ways to respond to any misinformation in ignorance can be to ask a question. What would make you say that? So that applies to her piece to STI jokes to to so many different areas. Now before I let you go I’d like to talk a little bit about sex, and whether or not if in any way, sex changes with a herpes diagnosis, and I know I’m not sure if you’re on medication, and you know, that everybody’s treatment is different. But for you just from your own experience. Is this something you’re comfortable discussing? You’re absolutely. So a sex is sex different now. And if so how is it different? And. Yeah. Is different sexes. Definitely different. Because I had to choose better partners because I had to decide who’s going to be worth me disclosing too. So there’s more of learning that, you know, not sex. There’s more to sex than physical contact. You know, there’s the connection being talked to someone. What’s the mental connection the emotional connection spiritual connection, even before it even makes it to the physical in some cases? Of course, there’s the physical attraction right, then and there sometimes, but what it’s made me do is realize that I have to have that conversation, of course. And in that conversation of SEI’s comes negotiations, you got your do’s and your dawn’s. And this is a good opportunity for disclosure to be made into something that can be sexy. So yeah, you go from talking about SEI’s to. Okay. Well, what do you like do you like being show you like your hair pool? D like it slow you wind to kiss a lot like these are the kinds of conversations to be had and. In the times of an outbreak. There may be instances where you may have to get creative. Maybe bring some toys into that Rover. Maybe pull up some porn. There’s all kinds of different things that you can do. Sex doesn’t have to just be what I was programmed to believe it this is sex Pena’s into China or into an or an any kind of a person’s whole so of your choice. Relining near with, you know, with a diagnosis in terms of how it’s changed sex, and maybe even opened up a few doors to things that you might not have been. Where for sure, and then it’s connected me with different kinds of people like I’ve had an openness to meeting different kinds of people who may be into things that were different to me or foreign to me at the time and being able to have sit down conversations about, you know, different things that they like different things I like and kind of bringing those into our shared space. It’s been out opening, and it’s definitely opened me up to new experiences for sure that I would have just never considered prior to h is V diagnosis into answer. Your question about the medication. You time passes where you know, your body people. I’ve spoken to who are on daily suppresses. They’ve had more outbreaks because they started the medication right after their diagnosis and really didn’t give their bodies time to respond to the virus didn’t care to see how their body would clear it on its own or clear an outbreak and just. The stress behind a daily reminder of appeal that says you have herpes, you know, that can be something. That’s triggering alone in spoken to people who stopped doing that in my. Oh, well, now, I just take the medication as needed and as far as sex partners goes, there’s always use condoms. Let them know what the risks are. And I haven’t always had use condoms with partners just because I’ve given the choice, and they were they were okay with the risk of not using protection. And this is something that people have to understand as well that you as long as you’re giving your other partner, the choice, and you’re allowing them to make an informed decision. You guys can forward consensually based on that. I really appreciate that. I see when I keep hearing from you or the question is conversation is this power invulnerability at the opening of doors invulnerability, and it sounds like it makes you just a great person. Obviously a very good partner strong communique. Peter. And I think a lot of people are really going to benefit not only from this conversation. But from all the work that you’re doing I understand you’re going to be at south by southwest in Austin, Texas on March nights along with Laura Ashley Manta talking about making disclosure sexy.

00:35:04 – 00:40:01

So I hope people come find you there. I certainly hope they give a listen to your podcast. I think that there’s insights for people from all walks of life on the something positive for positive people podcast and other than that. Where would you like people to find you most active on Instagram and the Instagram handle is age on my chest? And it looks like Han much, but it’s on my chest. And a lot of people call it like, hey, Hon. My whole that’s what it is. But that’s where most active I’m on Twitter and read it under the same username at H chess. And if anyone was say, Email MIR has. About disclosure wants a question on answered on the podcast. I can be found at Courtney CO. You are t e y W B R A M E at Gino dot com. So that’s just my first name it’ll initial last name at g mail dot com. Can anyone has trouble weaken link you as well? Thank you so much for being with us. You’re really great really informative. Awesome. Thank you guys for having me so much. I appreciate what you’re doing. And I’ve learned a lot of things from listening to your pike as well. Thank you. And now, you’re just hopefully at your adding to the insight, so appreciate it. And have a great one us. Well. When it comes to breaking the stigma around her herpes S T is I think we all play a role first of all by not making at the butt of jokes for starters and more importantly by discussing safer sex, regardless of our known status, and I known status because for many S T is the most common symptom is no symptom at all. And so we need to not make a sumptious about ourselves and others. I think it’s interesting and concerning that for example, Courtney and folks with a diagnosis are tasked with starting and ensuring that we have these conversations while those of us who don’t know perhaps our status remained silent and don’t take responsibility. So regardless of your status. Get tested in start talking thought, it was amazing. How Courtney had all of these really? Awkward conversations with people that resulted in so much positive coming from them like about what people like sexually. Just throwing it out there or admitting that that he has it. And then other people admitting the same and even his podcast where people can share their stories in that weight being lifted from their shoulders once they’ve put it out there. I mean, not even thinking for a moment that people have contemplated suicide because of this diagnosis is heartbreaking. And it’s I’ll open it’s crazy for me to think that somebody consider that. Because at the end of the day, this isn’t as threatening or. As harmful. Let’s just say as something that is a terminal disease, and for people to feel that they are considering suicide is I don’t know. I have a whole new I have a whole new perspective on it now. Yeah. And you know, that that talking peace talking about sex is what leads to good sex talking about what you want and expect in a relationship is what leads to having your expectations met. And what struck me about Courtney’s insights, really was the theme of self worth. And so this theme of self worth arose from his diagnosis and his life experience. I’ve encountered so many folks who feel unworthy and experienced deep shame after a diagnosis or after any life challenge like a break up, and they have to work through these feelings to arrive at a place where they know they’re worthy. They’re worthy of self love worthy of love from partner. And it not only seems like. Courtney took a shortcut, but that he’s carving out this pass for others who his advocacy work through his podcast news valuing himself in his relationships. Very differently, right? I thought that that was amazing that he was now figuring out in advance. Like is this somebody that is worth investing into and how different of an approach is that before you get into any kind of relationship whether it be intimate or otherwise, I love that. He doesn’t waste his time or energy on trying to prove that he’s worth it to others. But rather only puts his energy into people who are worth it for him. And when I hear that I’m reminded that I need more of that not in this relationship, not in this intimate relationship, but in life, socially and in business. So what I’m taking away from this discussion aside from the need to de-stigmatising TI’s and make open communication a priority for health and happiness is this message of.

00:40:01 – 00:43:02

Knowing your worth, and knowing that you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to be liked or loved. And and I know that I’m someone who may be is is too focused on wanting to be liked even by folks who I don’t like. And this this just really resonates with me. So I’m going to sit with it for a bit. And I’m hoping to let his insights guide me in my work in the end, you know, in how I even plan this podcast and upcoming topics ’cause I’m always trying to make everybody happy, and you know, my social schedule is to full and I’m just doing too much. And that’s not me saying, I’m selfless. I’m not selfless. It’s more of a desperation. But he really focuses in and works when things are good and not just when they’re bad. Like I felt like he makes the effort at all times. Like, he’s not looking for things to be wrong before he starts to make a proactive chain. Saying just it seems as though he looks at the relationship and says, you know, things are going really, well, I wanna continue investing into this in making it even better than it can be. So he’s not waiting for a problem to arise to have the conversation. I thought that was a really important point to to take out of it. Absolutely. We are so reacted in relationships in sex instead of proactive, and he’s got that figure it out. So yet, I think really a lot to take out of this conversation even proactive in terms of the disclosure in advance of getting a relationship with somebody like before you’re gonna have you’re going to be intimate like look here. It is and the honesty and the integrity coming through there. Because you know, I’m sure some people don’t disclose. Absolutely. And again, those of us who have not been tested lately that is tantamount to not disclosing because you don’t always know if you have an STI and again, we, you know, SGI we treat us Chaz. Like, there’s something so much. More tragic than the common cold or flu. When you take a look at Claudia, for example. And it’s just penicillin. You gotta take to cure committee. And we see Clementi has so much worse than a common cold. But there isn’t pencil. You know, you can’t cure a common cold as easily in in such a straightforward way. So I thank Courtney for being here. Thank you for listening. Thanks to desire, of course for your support. And thanks, babe. I learned so much every time we get to talk to somebody new great. I can see it in your eyes. As I always, see Brandon’s eyebrows left. He’s like what? So thank you so much have a great week wherever you’re at will be back next Friday. And every Friday, I promise almost every Friday. I’m gonna say fifty one out of fifty two Fridays year. I’ve got that. I can follow through. Thanks so much folks have a great one. You’re listening to the sex with Dr Jess podcast, improve your sex life, improve your life.