If you have hepatitis C, you may worry about passing the infection to a sex partner. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s possible to spread the disease through sexual contact, although it’s not likely. But there are steps you can take to reduce the risk even further.
It’s widely known that viral hepatitis can spread though consuming contaminated food or sharing dirty hypodermic needles. But the liver-destroying disease can also sometimes be spread through sexual contact. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.
Hepatitis C And Sex Guidelines Tips
How Hepatitis C Is Spread During Sex
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver. It can range in severity from a mild, short-lived illness to a serious, lifelong disease. The hepatitis C virus is spread primarily through contact with the blood of someone who’s infected. It’s still unclear whether the virus can live in saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions.
These factors increase the risk of spreading hepatitis C during sex:
Having multiple sex partners
Engaging in rough sex, which may lead to bleeding
Having a sexually transmitted disease
Being infected with HIV
Especially in those who have the above risk factors, hepatitis C can occasionally spread through vaginal intercourse. It might also spread through anal sex, which can damage the lining of the rectum, making it easier for the virus to gain access to the bloodstream.
It’s not known whether the hepatitis C virus can be passed during oral sex. There is no proof that this has ever happened. The virus is not spread by more casual contact, such as hugging or holding hands.
Guidelines for Long-Term Couples
If you have hepatitis C and are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, the risk of giving the infection to your partner during sex is very low. In one study, researchers looked at 500 longtime couples in which a partner had hepatitis C. They found a few cases in which one partner seemed to have passed the virus along to the other. That was rare, however, occurring in only about 1 out of every 190,000 sexual encounters.
The CDC says that people with hepatitis C who have one long-term, steady sex partner don’t need to change their sexual behavior. Your partner should be tested for the virus at least once, however. It’s also important to talk frankly about the situation. If either of you is concerned, using a latex condom provides added protection.
Guidelines for Other Individuals
If you’re not in a long-term, monogamous relationship, the risk of giving someone hepatitis C through sex is a bit higher. Be sure to inform any potential sex partners that you have the infection. These steps help reduce your risk of spreading the virus:
Avoid engaging in rough sex.
Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
Limit your number of sex partners.
Skip having sex when either partner has an open sore or cut in the genital area or is menstruating.
Use a latex condom every time you have sex.
Hepatitis C is spread primarily through contact with blood. It’s still unclear whether the virus can live in saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions.
Factors that increase the risk of spreading hepatitis C during sex include having multiple partners, engaging in rough sex, or having HIV or an STD.
If you have hepatitis C and are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, the risk of infecting your partner during sex is very low.
Protect Yourself From Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis and your sex live
Viral hepatitis from hepatitis A, B, and C can be transmitted from person to person through sexual contact. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so practicing safe sex is essential.
The three common types of viral hepatitis A, B, and C are different. Hepatitis A does not require treatment and will clear up on its own in a few weeks or months. But hepatitis B or C, may develop into a chronic, long-term infection and can spread to sexual partners.
Hepatitis can be spread by contact with infected body fluids such as:
Sexual spread of hepatitis can occur through sexual intercourse and through other types of sexual contact that involve exposure to infected body fluids.
If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis, part of your responsibility is to keep your sexual partners safe. People with hepatitis should be especially careful to practice safe sex, which means using latex condoms to avoid acquiring or transmitting viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis A and Safe Sex
Hepatitis A is most often contracted through eating or drinking something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Contact with feces of an infected person through sexual activity, including anal sex or oral-anal activity, can result in the spread of hepatitis A to a sexual partner. Even a condom may not be protective, because handling a contaminated condom may lead to spread of the virus onto hands and into the mouth.
Hepatitis B and Safe Sex
"All three forms of viral hepatitis may be transmitted sexually, although hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted sexually.Once you have been diagnosed with hepatitis B, you should tell your partner so he or she can be tested. If your partner does not have hepatitis B, and is not already immune to hepatitis B, a vaccine is recommended.
Sexual partners of individuals with hepatitis B should consider vaccination to prevent acquiring infections, Hepatitis B immune globulin which works like an antibody, quickly fighting infection can also be given to a partner who has been exposed to your body fluids within two weeks after exposure to prevent infection. Even after your partner has been vaccinated, you should always use a condom.
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Hepatitis C and Safe Sex
As with hepatitis B, the time to tell any sexual partner about your diagnosis is before you have sex or if you have already had sex, before you have sex again. Again, if you are having sex you need to use condoms and avoid risky sexual activity.
In patients with hepatitis C in stable monogamous relationships, the rate of transmission appears to be in the range of 2 to 4 percent per year, Even though the chance of transmitting hepatitis C is lower if you are having sex with only one partner, you still need to be responsible and cautious. "Since there is no effective vaccine.prevention is of particular importance in this group," warns Fallon. Using condoms will decrease the risk of transmitting your hepatitis C infection to your partner.
Tips for Safe Sex With Hepatitis
Be as safe as possible. Refrain from engaging in risky sexual activities, take precautions against transmission, and get tested regularly for other forms of hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Consider sharing your hepatitis diagnosis with your partner or partners, and find out more about their sexual history.
Know how STDs are spread. Direct contact of blood, semen, or vaginal fluids with an open sore anywhere in the vagina, anus, or mouth makes passage of infection more likely. But there does not have to be a visible sore for the virus to be passed to your sexual partner, as even a minor break in the skin or mucous membranes of the genital area can allow the virus to enter.
Use condoms. Use a latex condom for any type of sex, and use a water-based lubricant to help reduce the chance of the condom breaking. A lubricant also decreases the chance of developing a friction-related sore on the penis or inside the vagina. The condom should be worn from the beginning until the end of sexual activity, and care should be taken when handling and disposing of the condom afterward.
Don't mix sex and alcohol. Mixing alcohol or other drugs with sexual activity can impair your judgment, reduce your ability to communicate responsibly before sex, and interfere with proper condom use.
Talking about sensitive issues like sex and hepatitis can be difficult, but it is your responsibility to protect your partner and to protect yourself from additional infections. Think ahead and plan out what you want to say. Consider discussing the issue with your doctor or getting the advice of a trusted friend before talking to your partner.
When it’s time, find a private place where you can talk to your partner without interruption.
How many kinds of viral hepatitis are there?
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Hepatitis C and Fatigue
When you have hepatitis C, you're no stranger to fatigue. It's a top challenge for people living with this liver disease. A number of things can cause you to be tired, so it can be hard to pinpoint one reason. The hepatitis virus itself may be to blame. Liver damage causes fatigue, as do some of the treatments.
Read the Hepatitis C and Fatigue article.
Scientists have identified at least five types of viral hepatitis that lead to liver problems. In the U.S., the main threats are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Can all types be spread by sexual contact?
Hepatitis A spreads via fecal-oral contact, which can occur if there is direct oral-anal contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person. If even a microscopic amount of virus-laden feces gets into the mouth, infection potentially can result.
Hepatitis B (HBV) is 50 to 100 times easier to transmit sexually than HIV ( the virus that causes AIDS). HBV has been found in vaginal secretions, saliva, and semen. Oral sex and especially anal sex, whether it occurs in a heterosexual or homosexual context, are possible ways of transmitting the virus. It is not transmitted by holding hands, hugging, or even dry kissing on the lips. The chance of transmission with deep kissing is unknown, as no infections have been definitively documented after exposure to infected saliva. Yet, since HBV has been found in saliva, the risk of transmission with deep kissing probably exists and the risk increases if one partner wears orthodontic braces or has open cuts or sores in the mouth. The likelihood of becoming infected with HBV grows with the number of sexual partners a person has. Thus, promiscuous individuals are more likely to get HBV.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is spread through contact with an infected person’s blood.which may be present because of genital sores or cuts or menstruation. HCV has been detected with greater-than-average frequency among people who have a history of sexual promiscuity -- which can be defined as a history of a sexually transmitted disease, sex with a prostitute, more than five sexual partners per year, or a combination of these. A person who is in a long-term monogamous relationship with an HCV-infected person rarely contracts this virus. Only approximately 2% of sexual partners of HCV-infected people also test positive for HCV. However, it is important to note that this statistic is based on indirect evidence only. Therefore, whether these people became infected through a sexual act or by another route is unclear. For example, people in long-standing relationships generally care for one another in times of illness or injury. During such times, HCV may be transmitted to the spouse or partner, because the couple may not be as cautious about avoiding contact with blood.
Hepatitis C is a viral disease of the liver. If it lasts long-term and it usually does getting appropriate medical care helps prevent serious complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Beyond that, making healthy lifestyle choices helps protect your liver and boost your well-being.
what you can do.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
When you have hepatitis C, eating a nutritious, balanced diet helps your liver work better and reduces your risk of developing cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Choose a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and dairy products, and healthy protein foods such as fish, lean meats, and dried beans.
2. Manage Appetite Killers
Some medications used to treat hepatitis C can cause side effects that make it harder to eat healthfully. To reduce nausea, eat smaller, more frequent meals and avoid spicy, greasy or acidic foods. To counter a metallic taste in your mouth, use plastic utensils, and eat a little yogurt a half-hour before mealtimes.
3. Avoid Drinking Alcohol
Hepatitis C reduces the liver's ability to break down alcohol and remove its toxic byproducts. Consequently, alcohol can harm the liver and speed up cirrhosis. Doctors advise not drinking if you have hepatitis C. Remove temptation at home, and practice saying no in social situations.Do you enjoy a drink now and then? Many of us do, often when socializing with friends and family. Drinking can be beneficial or harmful, depending on your age and health status, and, of course, how much you drink.
For anyone who drinks, this site offers valuable, research-based information. What do you think about taking a look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health?
4. Stay Physically Active
When you have hepatitis C, regular exercise helps improve your total health and manage drug side effects such as fatigue and depression. The ideal choice is often a low-impact activity such as walking or swimming, done at a comfortable pace. Talk with your doctor about the best exercise plan for you.
5. Shed Excess Pounds
Being overweight can cause fatty deposits on the liver and worsen complications of hepatitis C. Fortunately, losing weight can reverse some of those effects. A good starting goal is to slowly lose 10 percent of your body weight. Avoid extreme diets and rapid weight loss, which put a strain on your liver.
6. Fight Fever and Aches
Sometimes the medications used to treat hepatitis C can cause flu-like side effects. To soothe a fever, drink extra fluids and take a lukewarm sponge bath. To ease achy muscles, try a warm, moist compress or a gentle massage. Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter pain relievers.
7. Take Care With Supplements
Certain vitamins and herbal products can be dangerous for people with hepatitis C. Avoid taking comfrey, kava, pennyroyal, skullcap, valerian, and megadoses of vitamin A. If your iron levels are high a problem for some people with cirrhosis—skip multivitamins with iron and large doses of vitamin C.
8. Reduce Your Stress
Living with a chronic illness such as hepatitis C can be stressful. When you're feeling tense, try going for a short walk, taking a few deep breaths, or doing some gentle yoga. Make sure to get plenty of rest. Share your worries with a family member or friend, and consider joining a support group.