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,