Ella Lauser is a new paradigm sexual health and wellness coach, writer, speaker and energetic healer. But perhaps most importantly she is the sister you probably never had!

At an early age, Ella had the unique opportunity to be a confidant and support system for many people. With wisdom, humor, and openness passed down to her from her bisexual grandma, Ella received a rich education. In 2000 at UC Santa Cruz she began The I Want Sex Club (I.W.S.C.) for students who wanted to talk about sex in a non-judgmental, supportive forum. Shortly thereafter, she graduated with a Sociology B.A. from UCLA, and then went on to teach comprehensive sexual health education to high school classrooms throughout Los Angeles Unified School District.

Now, Ella is finally working on a book that will share her insights on sexuality and in the interim she's offering exclusive private one-on-one coaching packages, providing the perfect space for women to become empowered emotionally and sexually, discovering what they want, how to ask for it and most importantly how to receive it. It's her greatest passion to be of service and offer you the tools, understanding and support to check in and be with what you really are, - amazing and beautiful!

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Dangerous Liaisons... herpes and polyamory? Yes, no, maybe so?

Question of the Week

I met someone who is fantastic, and they told me they have herpes last night. We have not done anything together. I have never encountered this before, I am having a hard time. I am not freaking out, but giving it thought. I recently declared myself open/poly and am happier than I been in a while. So honest with myself now. So, what is your advice on how to handle this? I really like this guy, and it sucks.


- Elizabeth

Howdy Elizabeth,

Where we can go with this is endless, which I'm sure your mind has imagined plenty already!

That joyful first kiss....

To a possible nightmare coming up from down below...

Been thinking about your question a lot because herpes and polyamory seem to be an interesting cocktail to consciously sip from. I think it's great that you're not freaking out and addressing a very real issue with an additionally open mind. 

It's good that this guy you like knows he has herpes and was awesome enough to communicate this to you, giving you a choice.  Suh-weet!  So many don't know or don't tell.  It's scary to face rejection and there's a lot of judgment out there around STIs that is unfair and so unkind, so props to him and to you!  He does sound fantastic. 

So let's address some of the facts on herpes first!
HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) has two forms, one is called HSV I and is considered to be oral herpes and the other is HSV II which is genital herpes.  Both types can occur on the genitals or the mouth though.  "Genital herpes is caused most often by HSV-2. Up to 8 out of 10 American adults have oral herpes. And about 1 out of 4 American adults have genital herpes. Millions of people do not know they have herpes because they never had, or noticed, the herpes symptoms"(- Planned Parenthood).

Most people have a very clear warning from an itching or tingling sensation where an outbreak is about to go down and they refrain from rubbage.  Unfortunately, you can't always predict an outbreak and using a condom doesn't 100% help because condoms act as barriers between fluid exchange, not skin to skin contact.  Herpes can be spread to any part of the body that has an open sore (yup that cut on your arm) or to our wet & sensitive parts such as the mouth, eyes, vaginal lips, penis, anus.  It only takes a brief second of contact which is such a bummer. If he tends to have his outbreaks on say the tip of the penis then it would be easier but ouch!  he won't want to be getting down when he's all sored out and neither do you because herpes is most contagious when the sore is leaking or blistery.  A lot of people don't show symptoms for up to year or sometimes never, so be aware of that.  God, I know it sounds like a freaking lose lose situation but really it's not. 

Okay, so what to do?  You appreciated his honesty and the presentation of choice, so I think you should pay that forward and share with your polyamorous crew that you are partnering up with someone who has herpes.  A lot of people have the virus and it's totally manageable, I have plenty of friends who've been in your boat and were with a partner for up to ten years and never got infected.  It's a roll of the dice some say but I think if you're aware, communicating, cautious and considerate it bounces super odds in your favor.

Just continue to be in conversation, ask the guy how often he gets outbreaks and if he's got a good handle on knowing when they're coming.  That's the best you can do. 

And as far as polyamory (for those of you who don't know that's multiple lover/open relationships), I think having one relationship can be challenging enough and juggling multiple balls (sorry, for the second pun) can be tricky especially when it comes to sexual histories of the partners.

 (Photo courtesy of the film Perfume, Dreamworks LLC and Constantin Film Produktion)

However, I like to read three books at a time and people think that's wild and confusing, ha!  We're here to experience and explore and as long as we are honest and communicative about that, the drama has less potential to flair but flair it will- we're human, we're animals.  We all have very different definitions of relationship and our emotional attachment kicks in all sorts of fun ways even with the very best of preparation.  We can really only have power over our reactions and do our best to come from a space of love instead of fear.   

Best of luck to you Elizabeth!  I hope this helps.

And for more info on herpes symptoms, testing and treatment, click here.


  1. by the age of 21 ,you,ve got a 99% chance of having been exposed to some form of herpes.Most likely, he will know when he has an outbreak and just dont have sex then. My ex husband had it and didnt know it. He expressed the virus as a "heat rash" on his buttock.I would never have known, neither did he.So, when I got a "cut" on my anal area, I also thought it was some form of heat rash. The fact that some one is telling you is wayyyy cool! but, the other people you are having relations with may have herpes and NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS!!!!
    GOOD NEWS.If you discover that you have it, you can treat the first lesion (which is usually the worst one!) with a RX of Valtrex(upgraded acyclovir) and you may actually KILL it.You must get the medicine inside of you with the first 48-72 hours. !the drug attaches to the viral RNA and doesnt allow it to replicate so that it cannot set up shop in your nervous system.Many doctors dont even know this!!

  2. There are those who claim to CURE herpes with homeopathy. I dont know the details, but dont be resigned - seek it out.