Adjustment to the psychological and social sequelae of recurrent genital herpes simplex infection

Genitourin Med. 1993 Oct;69(5):384-7. doi: 10.1136/sti.69.5.384.


Objective: To investigate whether adverse psychological consequences and impaired sexual and interpersonal functioning are present in individuals suffering from recurrent genital herpes simplex infection (HSV).

Design: A questionnaire-based study completed by subjects defined as having more than one episode of HSV infection.

Subjects: Completed questionnaires were returned from 90 subjects; 40 from the department of genitourinary medicine at our hospital and 50 from members of the Herpes Association.

Results: Stress and being physically run-down were identified as provoking factors by the majority of individuals (78% and 56% respectively). The frequency of sexual activity was not different when comparing rates before and after infection (p < 0.001) and the majority of subjects had told partners of their infection. Women reported significantly greater disturbances in several psychological variables and reported a greater decrement in their general health. However, overall there were no differences in the psychological sequelae following herpes infection.

Conclusions: The study suggests that, given time, most people are able to adjust psychologically to having recurrent herpes infection. However, for a minority of subjects this is not the case and these individuals may require psychotherapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological