Living with Herpes: Dating, Treatment, and Intimacy with HSV-1 and 2
“I've been trying to get back out there in the dating scene, but I'm nervous because a few years ago I was diagnosed with HSV-1 genital. I'm not religious at all, I'd describe myself as an atheist, but when aged 21 I started getting sores around my penis, I must have prayed 50 times. Jenelle Marie Davis, 34, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will gladly explain why having herpes isn't the end of the world. But she didn't always feel.
If you find yourself whispering, mumbling, or looking at the floor, stop for a moment and try to speak calmly and clearly. Look your partner in the face. Your delivery affects your message. They are not intended to be regarded as scripts.
Have you ever had a cold sore? The reason I ask is that cold sores are caused by a type of virus. I have the virus.
Living (and dating) with herpes
Only instead of getting a cold sore on my mouth, I get one in my genital area. Can we talk now? Last year, I found out that I had contracted genital herpes. This is not a confession or a lecture, simply the sharing of information between two people.
Avoid negative words and keep the dialogue simple and factual: Could we talk about what this means for us? You might even be surprised to learn that your partner has been equally concerned about telling you that they have genital herpes or another sexual infection.
In fact, the probability of this is reasonably high, given the statistics on HSV. Realistic and unrealistic expectations People may just need a little time to assimilate the information. This is where having good written information helps. Consider giving them reading material or referring them to a Sexual Health Centre, the Herpes Helpline 11 12 13 or the herpes website www.
Whatever the reaction, try to be flexible.
Remember that it took you time to adjust as well. Negative reactions are often no more than the result of misinformation. It takes a lot more than the occasional aggravation of herpes to destroy a sound relationship.
Some people react negatively no matter what you say or how you say it. Others might focus more energy on herpes than on the relationship. These people are the exception, not the rule.
This is not a reflection on you. You are not responsible for their reaction. If your partner is unable to accept the facts about herpes, encourage him or her to speak with a medical expert or counsellor. The majority of people will react well.
They will respect the trust you demonstrate in sharing a personal confidence with them. With the proper approach and information, herpes can be put into perspective: Regarding the relationship overall, know that you can have the same level of intimacy and sexual activity that any couple can.
It is true that in an intimate sexual relationship with a person who has herpes oral or genitalthe risk of contracting herpes will not be zero, but while there is a possibility of contracting herpes this is a possibility for any sexually active person. And the person may unwittingly already have been exposed to the herpes virus in a previous relationship. All relationships face challenges, most far tougher than herpes.
How to Live and Date with Herpes
Good relationships stand and fall on far more important issues — including communication, respect and trust. Whether or not this relationship works out, you have enlightened someone with your education and experience about herpes, correcting some of the myths about herpes that cause so much harm.
You have removed the shroud of silence that makes it so difficult for others to speak. And you have confronted a personal issue in your life with courage and consideration. What it means for Partners Your partner has genital herpes. Your support is very important in helping you and your partner to understand what this means. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the herpes infection.
In the meantime, here are answers to some questions you may have. What is Genital Herpes? Genital herpes is a common infection generally transmitted through sexual contact. It is caused by one of two members of a family of viruses which also include the viruses causing chickenpox and shingles, and glandular fever.
Usually, genital herpes is caused by infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 HSV-2and studies suggest that in some countries, one in five people are infected with this virus. Genital herpes, for most people, is an occasionally recurrent, sometimes painful condition for which effective treatment is now available. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of catching genital herpes, regardless of their gender, race or social class. How has my Partner caught Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. It can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. HSV-2 infection is usually passed on during vaginal or anal sex.Herpes And Dating: 7 Things You Need To Know with Alexandra Harbushka - Life With Herpes
HSV-1 is usually transmitted by oral sex mouth to genital contact. If your partner has only just been diagnosed as having genital herpes, this does not necessarily mean that he or she has been unfaithful to you, or sexually promiscuous in the past. Your partner may have caught genital herpes from you. So it is very easy for you to have unwittingly transmitted the infection to your partner. The symptoms of the infection vary greatly between individuals — it might be totally unnoticeable in you, but cause severe blistering in your partner.
Since the genital herpes virus can be transmitted through oral sex as well as vaginal sex, it is also possible that your partner caught the virus from a cold sore on your mouth or face.
Alternatively, your partner may have contracted the herpes virus from a previous sexual partner, perhaps even several years ago. The herpes virus can remain inactive in the body for long periods, so this may be the first time it has caused symptoms. What are the symptoms of Genital Herpes? If your partner is having a first episode of genital herpes, he or she is likely to feel generally unwell and have fever, headache, and general bone and muscle aches, as well as irritation in the genitals.
This may last for several days, during or after which reddened areas may appear on the genitals. These may develop into painful blisters. The blisters then burst, generally to leave sores which gradually heal, usually without scarring. The severity of this first herpes episode varies between individuals, but for some people it may be severe and last for up to three weeks if not treated.
These symptoms should quickly resolve with treatment. The doctor should have given your partner a course of antiviral treatment. This is an effective medicine which, although it does not cure genital herpes, can speed recovery and reduce the severity of the herpes episode. There are also other steps which your partner can take to relieve the pain of genital herpes.
- What it’s really like to date with herpes
However, for many people who have genital herpes, the physical symptoms are far outweighed by the emotional stress relating to the diagnosis. There are many misconceptions about genital herpes, including the belief that it is associated with promiscuity, and these have given it a reputation which may cause your partner to feel angry and shocked by the diagnosis. Anxiety, guilt, loss of assertiveness and fear of rejection are also common emotions.
Your support can be very important in helping your partner to deal with these feelings and to minimise the effect of genital herpes on his or her life.
How do I know if I have Genital Herpes? Until recently, diagnosis could only be made by clinical symptoms and swabs from an active herpes episode. However, there are commercially available blood tests becoming available which can distinguish between herpes simplex virus type 1 HSV-1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 HSV-2 antibodies.
The time taken to develop antibodies is usually two to six weeks after infection, but can be up to six months. It is also important to know that false positives and false negatives are common in these tests. Because of the limitations of a blood test to diagnose herpes, it is recommended you discuss the implications of the test with someone who has experience with them. If you think you might be showing signs of the infection, consult your doctor.
Living (and dating) with herpes - BBC Three
Do the symptoms of Genital Herpes return? The symptoms of genital herpes may reappear from time to time. This is because once the herpes virus is acquired, it stays permanently in the body. I felt such shame and I think that's due to the fact no one seems to talk about it. This form generally appears as cold sores around your mouth but it can be passed to your genitals through skin on skin contact which is becoming a more common way of contracting genital herpes.
Before I was officially diagnosed, I googled my symptoms and scared myself silly. Based on my internet research I diagnosed myself with herpes - and reading articles and forums full of false information made me feel like it was the end of my life as I knew it.
I basically read that it was incurable and could result in regular flare-ups. This made me think that nobody would ever want to date or sleep with me again. I'd struggle to get to sleep after compulsively reading articles online, then I'd jolt awake early in the morning, panicking. At the time I thought it was an insect bite, but it stayed for a couple of weeks and I realised that the small red mark was something else.
So then I thought it might be an allergic reaction to a new fabric softener. After a few weeks, I went to my GP who said she thought it might be herpes.
My GP referred me to a sexual health clinic in September and I got tested the same month. Here are some tips to help you and your partner stay safe during sex. Recognize there is always a risk Even though most people are only shedding the virus for a short period of time, Mysore says you cannot completely eliminate the risk.
Consider medication Taking a daily antiviral can help suppress the virus as well as the asymptomatic shedding, says Harbushka. One study found that taking an antiviral daily can reduce transmission.
This strategy is not appropriate for everyone, but may be reasonable for some people with genital herpes.
Know the correct way to use a condom Lazzara stresses the importance of consistent and correct condom use, which can provide significant protection against the spread of herpes.
Plus, avoiding sexual interaction while experiencing an active herpes outbreak will also minimize the risk of transmission. Read our guide for proper tips on how to use outside and inside condoms. Manage your stress Finally, stress often triggers a new herpes outbreak, so Mysore suggests having good stress management skills and living a healthy lifestyle, which can help in future outbreaks and therefore lessen the chance of transmission.