9:57 am - 05/28/2008

dealing with herpes - sex, relationships, and stigma

Hi, my name is Renee.  I'm 25, just diagnosed with Herpes simplex 2 as of yesterday, and full of fear, embarassment, and confusion.

About two weeks ago, I felt a large, sore bump on the inner part of my labia majora, which, within days, turned into four or five.  Thinking they were boils or ingrown hairs, I tried hot baths, but with no comfort.  When they became raw and inexplicabley tender to the touch, I made an appointment with the Doctor.  

I peed in a cup, gave some blood, and was Pap-scraped (which hurt like HELL wih the sores).  He initially said that Herpes was unlikely since I've never had a cold sore or any genital outbreak in my life, but tested me for it, along with HPV, and diabetes (which apparently can cause ulcerated skin..?).

in the meantime, I was given a RX for a soothing, anti-bacterial creme, which did not only prove uneffective for the pain, but made it WORSE.  I could barely open up my lips (I'm built "naturally closed" due large outer labia, and small inner), and urinating now  felt like acid eating through my skin.

Desperate, I returned to the doctor yesterday, even though my only half my lab results were in.  Well, aparently that half was enough to pin point my problem:  "Renee, you've tested positive for Herpes simplex 2."

I cried.  Not, single-tear cry like in movies; I WEPT.   I've had partners in the past and enjoyed my sensuality, but I've always been cautious with protection.  How could this be happening to me?  For all the talk we boast about not being judgemental and not looking at others through stigma, it always changes when it comes to ourselves.

So, I'm put on a ten day trial with Valtrex ($142 for a ten day supply, even with insurance???  Fuck you, Home Depot and your shitty benefits plan!)  to clear up the current outbreak (thank gods), before I return to Dr. next week to discuss what we want to do in terms of medication.  SIgh.

So, if this weren't bad enough, there's another dimension:  I have a boyfriend  - a wonderful, understanding boyfriend, with whom I'm 100% monogamous.  Even though he can't ejaculate (long story...NO doctor can seem to figure out WHY), we always use condoms, however, we engage in a lot of oral sex.  I'm so terrified that I may have given it to him (I just doubt that it's vice versa, and I'm not even upset if that is that case).  He's done so much for me, and all I've given in return is Herpes.  It's not fair for me to put him through this.  The guilt that he may have it, and that, even if he doesn't, has to deal with my having it, is killing me, VP.

Also, what does this mean, if he does not test positive, for sex?   I've always been a very sensual and playful person - the idea of our intimacy being reduced to cautious, and clinical, coitus-only between outbreaks is something with which I'm having a difficult time  What happens to oral sex now?  He said he could look into dental dams (sorry, but that does NOT thrill me), and joked, "there's always toys."  :(   This may sound melodramatic, but I don't see how I could possibly enjoy sex without oral.  There's just nothing that feels like it, and it's
 always been a deal breaker for guys when "just don't like to do it."   And what about him?  Must I no longer go down on him either?  This is awful.

Lastly, I've always been into holistic and "folk" remedies (which is not to say I'll eschew medication) - are there any teas, or foods, etc. that people find help with outbreaks and pain?

So, readers, if anyone has any advice - how to deal, what medications are good, holistics, and of course, sex with herpes, I'd be so much more than grateful.   This is all so new and frightening for me.

Thanks in advance, 


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righteousbean 28th-May-2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
I don't have any adivce, but, one of my best friends was diagnosed with herpes and in the past six years she has only had 2 outbreaks, and is now doing fine, and is happily married to a very supportive and understanding man.

Please don't think that this is the end of the world, and please don't think things like "He's done so much for me, and all I've given in return is Herpes." That is clearly not true.

I wish you luck.
mccunt 28th-May-2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
thank you so much; that means a lot.
(no subject) - Anonymous
mccunt 28th-May-2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
thank you - I will definately check that out.
archangelbeth 28th-May-2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Firstly, my sympathies. O:(
Secondly -- http://herpes.com/hsv1-2.html was a site that was fairly useful to me. From what it says, if your boyfriend got oral HSV-2? "Similarly, HSV-2 infection in the oral area-outside its site of preference-very rarely causes problems. First of all, oral, HSV-2 infections are rare, for reasons discussed below. But even when an infection occurs, recurrent outbreaks are uncommon."

As for you going down on him? Well, you cannot give him any HSV in a place you don't have it -- he could only be at risk by contacting the location where your HSV has set up shop. If he is actually a carrier of oral HSV-2 -- possible! -- then he'd have antibodies anyway, and would be less likely to get genital HSV-2. (Not impossible, but less likely.)

From everything I know about my own cold sore (presumably oral HSV-1, since it showed up whenever I needed a driver's license picture...), medicating early if you feel it coming on is a good thing, and avoiding stress (if possible) is one way to keep your immune system healthy enough to beat back the feelers that the spinal-HSV-base-station will be sending out now and then.

Likewise, if your boyfriend doesn't have it already, keeping his immune system healthy and unstressed certainly won't hurt. (And it sounds like he's being very supportive!) I know I've got oral HSV of some kind (haven't had an outbreak in years, yay!), and in many years of marriage, my spouse hasn't yet shown any signs of getting it either orally or genitally. (I do make sure not to give oral sex to him when I might have a sore; this includes harmless canker sores, but those tend to make giving oral too painful anyway, even aside from my paranoia.)

Crossing my fingers for you!
mccunt 28th-May-2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
thank you so much for all your advice :)
_crystalmyth 28th-May-2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
*big hugs*

Thanks so much for sharing your story -- that was very courageous of you.

Some people test positive for HSV-2 and have one breakout, then never have another breakout. It's hit or miss. But you CAN make it through this!

Good luck!!!
beganwithayes 28th-May-2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
oh babe. i'm sorry you're having a hard time! as a fellow hsv-2er, i promise you your life is not over, it will go on, you can still have sex (spontaneously or not, depending on your partner's attitude about the situation) and you'll be feeling MUCH, MUCH better in a few days.

i had the same experience when i was diagnosed. i bawled for a couple of days. it was devastating, but i've had it for a year now and it's definitely not as bad as it's made to seem.

try your best not to feel guilty- although i certainly understand the feeling. your boyfriend loves you and i'm certain he's not judging you. you do need to have a sit-down talk with him. he may already have it and not know it. after i found out i had it, my husband and i discussed how sex would or wouldn't change. we had never used condoms with each other before, and we decided that because we were fluid-bonded and we were in it for the long haul, that we wouldn't start. i ended up transmitting it to him and his primary outbreak was totally measly in comparison to mine. he was mildly upset for a little while about having herpes, but he wasn't upset with me specifically. the only time we avoid sex now is during an outbreak, for comfort reasons. (by the way, everyone's duration between outbreaks varies, but you may have them very infrequently and even forget you have the virus.) keep the communication with your partner open, fight back when you find yourself thinking nasty thoughts about yourself (because they just aren't true...this can honestly happen to anyone) and good luck. you were brave to share your experience.
kedawen 31st-May-2008 05:00 am (UTC)

It is SO hard to hear the doctor say "you have herpes" and it feels like the end of the world. Once you feel physically better, it is easier to realize that it doesn't need to ruin your life. It's manageable, and most likely it will never hurt as much as it did the first time! My first outbreak was about 2 weeks ago and it was some of the worst pain I've ever had! My doctor was amazing, she gave me pain meds, and that helped immensely, especially with sleeping!

Having a supportive partner is a big, big help. Don't feel guilty! I agree with the above commenter, definitely talk with him about how he wants to move forward so there's no misunderstandings.

With herpes becoming more and more common... maybe there will be less of a stigma and more realistic attitudes will develop... we can hope anyway.
miss_pagal Relief for sores25th-Jun-2008 06:31 am (UTC)
applying corn starch can help. Also avoid moisture, tight clothing & synethetic panties.
ellevill1986 I have genital Herpes26th-Aug-2008 03:48 am (UTC)
I'm 21 years old, and I've been clean of everything... as if i'm not going through emotional problems, including with stress, I have proof that i do have it, I have no idea what to tell my boyfriend...we're also going through problems right now, well at least that's what i think, anywho...i cried last month when i was first told because of the outbreak. But also giving some thought i'm going back to my doctors about the blood test results and asking on possibly getting perscribed pills that I can take once a day for as long as i want to sebdue another outbreak....and this little thought appeared in my head...but i know i'm not the only one that has thought of it...my boyfriend and i dont use protection...cept the last couple of weeks because I told him i wanted to be safe because I wanted to wait for the std results, but i take the perscription...been dormant...he doesn't show signs and I'm dormant...everything's working and we have unprotected sex... the docs say that taking the pill once a day for as long as i'd want just like a birth control pill would help, but still doesn't mean that it can prevent him from catching it unless he already has it, and i'm an emotional wreck and I mean he and I need to work out our relationship first and I would like to wait until we both have a clear head so i can talk to him...I mean it would ease him more most likely if i told him that I'm taking medication for it...he hates the feel of condoms...we love oral sex...he loves using his fingers on me...so that risk breaks my heart...those, dental dams...never used them and afraid because he and i love the feel of pure pleasure... I'm weirded out because I dont know on who i got it from because the doc said since it was so severe of an outbreak that it was recent and i knew it wasn't my boyfriend or didn't want to believe, because i would've showed signs 2 weeks after my boyfriend and i first got together, or whatnot, but then 2 weeks of first getting together i became stupid and went to another town and had a one night (my boyfriend and i weren't exclusive then) and that guy and i used condoms, but still there's a risk...and not then 2 days later i find a red bump under my vaginal hole, to the left side...hurt like mother...so that's why i thought it was the other guy, also i dont know if i should put blame, either both of them might've not known that they've had it...which leaves me depressed. this is just some of the things that i just wanted to get out but i hope that someone can comment...or help me through this new ordeal... thank you
000005_9 scared and so alone....27th-Sep-2010 04:50 am (UTC)
i'm freaking out!
i think i might have it....i just had a horrible outbreak, i have sores all around my genital area and even a couple on my right underarm...i thought it was just razor burn or something, so i used cream and had a nice hot shower to sooth the pain but the sores only got WORSE and i'm in so much pain and i'm so worried. i'm going to the doctor tomorrow and i hope that this isn't herpes....i'm praying that it isn't.

i'm only 20 and i'm so scared and i can't talk to anyone about it.....i had a one night stand a week ago, the guy didn't have any signs of an outbreak, and we'd both been tested just a month ago....i'm freaking out..i feel like this is the end of my sex life. i love sex, i love oral, i love being wild and spontaneous during sex and this would RUIN ALL OF THAT!!!

i can't stop crying....i feel so alone. i joined Live Journal just so i could talk to someone, ANYONE about this.....please give me some advice, some kind words, anything to help me...i'm so scared and depressed, i've never felt so embarrassed and so stupid in my entire life!

you're story made me feel a little better, thank you for being so open about your situation.

lecieldeparis me too! let's talk2nd-Dec-2010 01:19 am (UTC)
I'm 21 and have just found out I have herpes... well, test results won't be back for another two weeks but since I was abroad when it started, it's become a very bad outbreak indeed, and the doctor seemed pretty sure of what it was when he saw it, and he was an STD specialist.

I've been feeling devastated too, I'm a very sensual person and I can't deal with the idea having to explain all this to someone every time I want to have a relationship. I hadn't ever had unprotected sex so it feels all so unfair, and although my partner at the time was incredible and so understanding, I had to leave him behind when I came home from abroad.

My parents both have a lot of medical knowledge and tell me that all this anxiety and depression IS an actual symptom of the virus, and this is why it all feels so impossible at the moment - so don't worry, we will start to feel better!

And at times, I do start to feel optimistic. Many people who have this only go on to have a couple or even no further outbreaks in their lives! And future outbreaks are never as bad as the first.

The problem for me, like I said, is the idea of having to break it to someone, and the fear that this would make them reject me. At our age, and due to all the stigma surrounding herpes, it feels such a daunting prospect. As my parents said, anyone who's worth having a close relationship with, would understand - but it still scares me.

We have to try not to feel worse about ourselves as people - we're still the lovely girls we always were! Things will get better!! So many millions of people are living with this right now, completely happily and normally.

I think those of us who are younger have it a bit harder because our potential partners, being that much younger themselves, are more likely to be taken aback by it all... please, anyone who wants to talk about this just get in touch!! It helps so much reading about others who are going through the same thing, and knowing that none of us are alone.

Especially those who don't feel they can speak to their parents about it - I feel so bad for you, please please feel free to talk to me!

Lots of love and support
redstarlights Re: me too! let's talk11th-Dec-2010 03:49 am (UTC)
Just turned 22 and pretty sure I have it -- getting tested for sure tomorrow but I can't imagine what else this is. It's reassuring to read posts like yours that's so positive...hopefully I'll bounce back as quickly as you =)
banana888 What to do with a new relationship21st-Feb-2011 04:18 am (UTC)
Hi All,
Unfortunately I was told about 2 years ago that I have HSV 2. Since then I have not dated, fearing how I might tell my new partner. However, I am now in a new relationship, about 1 month in and still fearing how I should tell him the unfortunate news. I have been avoiding any type of sexual encounters and am getting to the point where something needs to be said. Does anyone have any advice on how to go about this. Also, I feel like I need to know all the facts about HSV 2 before I say something... like if it can be passed through oral sex.
Any help would be appreciated.

rayray2218 New to Herpes20th-Jun-2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Im 22 yrs old.And I just expierenced my first Herpes outbreak atleast one I noticed.The beggining of my expierence with it I wasnt sure bec. I wear some pretty tight pants and prob not the best underwear to work so I thought it was just chaffing and heat bumps at first.A couple days go by and there still there and hurting more than anything when I went pee....they swole up and kinda looked like ant bites so I decided to show my older sister and see if maybe she could tell me what she thought they were....she wasnt really sure what they were but put out there maybe herpes, we looked online but wasnt really sure...So I waited out a few more days and put ointments on and took warm baths and when that didnt work I finally made an appointment to my family dr. to check them out after the weekend...when I went to my appointment my outbreak was pretty much over and she told me from the looks of them that they were herpes but she couldnt be exact due to the outbreak being over so she said we had to wait for the test results to come back...well I wanted to just cry...but I didnt....(Last summer I took my first STD test and found out I had Chlamydia and HPV....I thought that was the end of my world)But thats nothing compare to this so back to my story....waiting for those test results for HERPES was the worst 2 stressing fucking weeksss of my life!!!!!!I finally got a call back with my results and they came back possitive for HSV 1.But my outbreak was on my genitals,so I prob caught it through oral or sex,but mostlikely oral.Im not sure I have it on my lips as of right now.I guess I just have to wait it out for now till my next outbreak.I wont know untill I have another outbreak to see if I just have it on my genitals or have it on my lips too.This puts so many questions and thoughts through my head.

Im currently not in a relationship but I dont know who I got the herpes from...I love sex and kinda got into the whole oral fun...Ive had 3 partners since the last std test....two of them being kinda just fun here and there hook ups (both being protected but condoms obviously doenst help with oral) and then a guy who I guess you can call a fwb but weve been back and forth for 5 years.I pretty much just say were a couple just without the "title" were kinda doing everything backwards now and im so confused and scared cause I dont know who I got them from and what I should tell this recent partner who im still communicating with.I feel like he has a right to know but at the same time I dont know for sure who I got it from and how I should approach him with it.The only reason why I want to tell him is bec. we started recently to hang out and go out on lil dates more.Like I said were doing things backwards...I know I have to tell him I picked it up from someone...But at the same time no one told me they had it and now I have them.I dont want to be selfish but at the sametime I wish I knew I had them before I picked it up...But some people dont even know they even have have it...And I didnt notice any outbreaks or anything on my partners.

I thought finding out about HPV was bad but this is so emotionally stressful and I dont know how to handle this.I know things will get better but it really scares me for my future.And not many of my friends know.And deff. not my family...so I dont really know how to handle this emotionally&mentally.Im very close to a few of my friends and told them but they can only understand and help me out.And im closestwith my oldest sister but I havent decided to tell her yet but I think she will be a big help...just dont know whens the right timing to tell her...specially being that im not in a current relationship....So I decided to start this LJ and see if I can get help from anyone here first.Im a very outgoing person and on the outside I may seem happy and act like nothing is going on in my life but deep down inside its hurting me.Its always on my mind and everytime I go to bed.Its not really something u cant stop thinking of.I would just like support and help and answers and hear other people expierence with this.Thanks!
shortiee123 Struggling8th-Jul-2011 05:41 am (UTC)
I just found out the other day that I have herpes. I don't know what to do with myself. I used to be this outgoing, obnoxious, energetic kid (yeah, I'm still pretty young...) but ever since I found this out I don't want to even leave my house. I've been crying for about 6 days, and everyone keeps telling me that I'm strong, and I'll get through it, but for the first time, I'm not too sure.. I've never had something hurt emotionally so bad. I wish the words, "you're not alone," helped more. :/ Anyone have advice for someone still in High School and having to deal with herpes? And please, don't say, "be less of a slut," because that's not how it is at all.. :(
ljan92 Re: Struggling25th-Jul-2011 03:15 am (UTC)
Hey hope yu get this im around your age im 19 recently out of college i found out i had herpes last September and still can barley deal with it. To be honest it sucks ass especially cas i caught during bad sex smh. I havent really dealed with it i actually jus as of recently started thinking about it more because ive been wanting to have sex and i guess it finally caught up with me cas i guess i blocked it out before. but anyway im sorry i dnt have much advise i cnt even really help myself but i can totally deal and relate. im struggling cas i wana have sex but its like how would someone react to yu telling them yu have herpes now lets do it like WHAT! it would be so awkward it would literally be walking on egg shells the whole time nd yu cant not tell em cas what if the condemn breaks nd they caught it then its like oh yeah ment to mention that...cas yu can still spread it even if yu dont have an active outbreak which is probably the worst besides no more head (bestt part btw) but i no by experience yu get about 1 or 2 more outbreaks NOT AS BAD AS THE FIRST after. I havent had one since November and im going stop typing cas i can go onnnnnnn lol but yur ody will be okay the sex thing is just hard i guess we should just invest in some toys and get a porn site account .....jk
enesem try not to judge yourself5th-Aug-2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
I'm 30 now and I've had HSV2 for a few years now (+-7) that I got from an ex (we dated for about 3 years) who I'm pretty sure he knew he had it, but didn't "think anything of it". Thank the good Lord, I now have a wonderful boyfriend who I told from the beginning, before we got serious and he knew what he was getting into. Thankfully, he hasn't shown any signs of HSV2 yet (touch wood) and we've been together for almost 4 years. We do take precautions and there can't always be spontaneity but I think it's just a small price to pay to be with someone who understands and loves you for who you are and not what you have. I just keep telling myself "it's just like a cold-sore, but "down there" and it gets annoying at times. It's NOT life-threatening and it's NOT HIV/AIDS". I have semi-regular outbreaks (an unlucky victim) and sometimes terrible headaches at the same time, it doesn't help that I worry when I have nothing to worry about = stress, not a great friend of HSV2 at all!
What I try and do is take loads of Vitamins and herbal products/creams, they don't cure but they help with the "extremeness" of the outbreak, so to say.
There are some nice products out there, but I guess it boils down to personal opinion and doctors input and research. Here's some nice links to read: http://www.cyclomfg.com/category/herpes-cure/ at the end of the day, the trick is to stay healthy and don't stress.
Remember, it can happen to ANYONE and no one is immune to HSV1/2 and I know it's tough, but try not to judge yourself, it won't change the facts.
The longer you live with it, the easier it is to accept it. If you're still young and not in a serious relationship, always be responsible and use protection, not just to prevent from passing it on, but also to protect yourself against other more serious STDs and HIV/AIDS.

Hope this helps a little? :)
annezzie99 FINALLY I CAN TALK ABOUT IT!30th-Sep-2011 04:47 am (UTC)
I am 22, about to be 23, and I was diagnosed with hsv-2 in May, and it has been some of the toughest months of my life. I have dated a guy that I'm absolutely in love with for 2 and half years, and we went through a self-discovery "fun" stage and took a break. He got a new girlfriend, so to try to make myself move on I dated too. I knew this guy through friends, and he was not great but he made the time pass. Until the worst day ever.

I started feeling little bumps, and I tried to convince myself it was just in grown hairs or irritation. Then I got a fever, chills, fatigue, MORE bumps, burning, itching, discharge, blisters so bad it was hard to walk. I was in SOOO much pain. I was desperate for answers and so I went to my universities medical center and got an STD test. As soon as the doctor saw,she gasped (made me feel AWESOME...not) she said "poor dear,it's probably herpes. I'll have to swab a sore to be sure. Which one should I pick, you have a few to choose from" AND THEN SHE SMILED. what a shitty doctor. She went to do the rest of the STD test after he swabbed the open sores, and when she went to stick the cold duck lips of hell in there, i SCREAMED out in agony. AWFUL. Thankfully she got the hint and said that's all for today.

The only person in the world who knows is my little sister. I'm so embarrassed every time I go to get medicine or anything, i just hate this. But luckily, I've only had 2 outbreaks since the first one, and they were both small and went away within a matter of days. I find that I have had them around my period too. Lucky me again, during my first Outbreak when I felt like my vagina was an active volcano spilling liquid hot magma over my entire downstairs, i got the worse period ever! Imagine cramps that double you over in pain, with a Va-j that forces you to stand straight. Not even going to go into the pain involved in sticking a dry cotton super tampon into that several times a day...for every female that has had a truly awful outbreak, you can understand. I guess I just need to get over it, accept it and hold my head up. I'm so glad I found this, because I need a place to vent or I don't know what I'd do.

It's so frustrating because I lost my virginity to my first boyfriend and we always planned on getting married. And the guy that gave it to me was such an asshole, he didn't even tell me!!! And then tried to act surprised when I told him, and made it all about him. especially since I had asked him before when was the last time he got tested and if he has slept with anyone since then and he straight up lied to me. WARNING: HSV-2 does not show up on a regular STD test because it is present in the blood only, if your not having an outbreak. So get a blood test AND a culture...or tell other people too.

I'm talking to my ex-boyfriend again now and I'm dreading having to tell him. We live far apart and I'm afraid he will just move on and not want to deal with me. It's really hard not to think negatively and hate yourself or think your disgusting. It is so awesome reading other peoples comments on here though. Thank you!!

I'm sorry that I'm not terribly uplifting, I'm still dealing with this too. The darkest time is just before dawn. I feel like I'm alone, I'm disgusting, no one would willingly want to put themselves through having herpes to be with me. And I couldn't ever ask someone to put themselves through this for me ether. They say the worse part about having herpes is the psychological distress, and they are right! I need to keep my mind in a good place though.

I feel alienated, or that I'm alienating myself. I like the idea of just looking at it like its a skin condition, helps a lot actually. I'm sorry for venting, and for being a terrible Debbie downer. I feel like I'm undoing all of the good work everyone who commented on here has done, but i need to get it off my chest to people who understand and empathize! Thank you... :)

Also, I feel like I need to join a match.com for people with herpes. Funny thought, but I wonder if it exists. Also, can we clear up one thing. If I, a female with HSV-2 on medicine and not during an outbreak, give a male without HSV-2, or anything else, a blowjob can they catch it? Even remote possibilities. What if I am having an outbreak, same?
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