5:28 pm - 02/12/2015

scared shitless I have herpes. or is it a yeast infection?

UPDATE - wanted to write an update here for anyone that might be going through a similar situation. So, I think I was dealing with a yeast infection, since after about four days on Diflucan (two pills total, taken 72 hours apart) and using an antifungal cream that my doc prescribed for me, I started to feel a lot better. The fissures all healed and the discharge went away. I also remembered that right before my symptoms got really really bad, I had used Rephresh gel, since I suspected something was a little off down there, and I thought it would rebalance everything (the gel is supposed to restore vaginal PH). The day after using that gel, things started to get worse, which then prompted me to use a one-day Monistat, and then after that point the whole situation started to kind of spiral out of control. Anyway, I bring this up because I spoke to my doc again and told her about using the Rephresh and she said that that stuff is a MAJOR irritant for a lot of women, and if I already had a low grade yeast infection and skin irritation, it could have definitely pushed me over the edge and made me feel much worse. I also read some of the negative amazon reviews on the product and several women said it caused them to develop a yeast infection. So I think my yeast infection from hell that I thought was herpes was actually just a small little infection that then become exponentially worse over a few days with the combination of Rephresh and Monistat. At least I'm hoping. I asked my doc if she had any concern at all about herpes and she said no, not at all - that it was a classic YI. Hopefully all this will help anyone here who's going through something similar!


OK, the title says it all. Was dating a guy for a month, we just broke up. We had sex one single time, and it was without a condom, after we both had STD tests. That was about 20 days ago. About a week ago, I got a bad cold right after finishing my period, and at around the same time, I developed several symptoms that felt like a yeast infection, namely, vaginal irritation and some white discharge (no smell). I have no blisters but some of the tissues on my vulva have become very irritated and raw and have led to some small fissures. The fissures are located mostly around my vaginal opening (where I think most of the discharge is "draining") and around the perineal area. There is a little bit of itchiness from time to time, and burning when I pee and the urine hits the raw skin/fissures. None of the symptoms are severe. I used a one day Monistat a few days ago but the symptoms persisted.

So I went to the doctor three days ago. She must not know how much of a hypochondriac I am, since she told me before checking me out, "the two main things that can cause this kind of irritation are yeast infections and herpes." HERPES?!?! So now that's all I can think about. As soon as she started the pelvic exam, she said it looked definitely like yeast, and that she saw none of the telltale signs of herpes. She took a swab of the discharge and said she would test it for yeast and BV, but that the test might be thrown off because I used that Monistat two nights ago.

The test results came back two days and they were negative. So ever since, I've been freaking out. I was hoping and praying that they would show positive for yeast. Does this mean I have herpes? What are the odds I got it from having sex once, for like 5 minutes, with this man? It was dark in the room, I didn't see his penis, I have no idea if there was anything weird on there. I'm worried because the irritation/symptoms started right when I got a cold, and I've read that the first herpes outbreak can be accompanied by flu like symptoms (although what I had was not flu-like, it was cold-like; I had no body aches or fever or anything). I am also experiencing some minor menstrual-type cramping in lower abdomen and back, but I have an IUD and often get random cramps. My period was also a little weird last month (I lost a bunch of weight rapidly from stress) and am wondering if my hormones are out of whack as a result, causing the mild cramps. But of course in my worried mind I keep telling myself that the cramps are somehow related to herpes. I was googling herpes symptoms but finally had to stop because I was scaring myself. I saw that discharge can be a herpes symptoms, but is it that white clumpy discharge that you get with a yeast infection? Because that seems to be what I have.

The factors that make me think it could be yeast infection are:

- I've been working out and not always showering/changing right afterward (but this is not new for me, I've always done this)
- Been drinking a lot more caffeine (this is new; usually drink decaf)
- Stressed (also not new for me, always stressed)
- Started right after period
- discharge is white, kinda "clumpy"
- no lesions/bumps/blisters

The factors that make me suspect herpes:

- Had sex once with a guy with no condom (after STD exam, though herpes was not tested for)
- Irritation seemed to coincide with a cold
- I have some mild menstrual-type cramping (but I'm not close to ovulation or period)

I'm so scared. Can anyone help? I'm in a total panic. Obviously I would ask the dude if he has ever had any issues with this kind of thing but we kinda broke up on bad terms and I don't even know if he'd talk to me.

My doctor prescribed me Diflucan and a cream and I'm supposed to treat and see if I feel better. I took the first Diflucan two nights ago (so about 36 hours ago) and am maybe noticing some small improvement but no dramatic change yet - the fissures are still there, maybe somewhat improved, and there's still some itchiness.

I have severe health anxiety anyway, and this has thrown me into an awful tailspin. I don't know why my ob-gyn would have mentioned "herpes" before she even started the pelvic exam! I can't get it out of my mind now.

Thank you in advance for your help!!!!!
archangelbeth 13th-Feb-2015 01:55 am (UTC)
If you don't have blistering or open sores, then I would definitely lean towards some kind of yeast infection, even if it was negative (because the Monistat could've interfered with the culturing of the yeast or however it is they look for it). Especially if it lasts/lasted longer than about a week. (I have oral herpes, aka cold sores, and without acyclovir, that's about as long as it takes to go from blister to healing.)

If you feel you will obsess on this, and can financially swing it, I'd suggest getting a blood test for antibodies to HSV. It's too soon after the possible exposure for you to have antibodies to HSV from that exposure, so if you have them, then you were exposed prior to this -- probably orally, because cold sores are extremely common and people can shed contagious viral particles without having an outbreak, now and then. But if you have antibodies, those would be very protective; HSV-1 and HSV-2 are similar enough that there's about a 40% chance antibodies for one will protect vs. the other.

If you have no antibodies to HSV, then wait 2-3 months and test again. If you still have no antibodies, then definitely no exposure. If you do have antibodies, you were exposed somehow -- orally or genitally, no way to tell. (HSV-1 likes the mouth and the genitals almost equally. HSV-2 prefers the genitals, but can live in an oral area.)

In the future, since this has upset you so much, you may wish to insist on condoms (latex or polyurethane or poly-whateverthatotherkindis, not lambskin) with people who haven't been tested for HSV, because 1: infectious herpes particles can be shed without a visible outbreak (often prior to an outbreak by a few days), and 2: even if there is an outbreak, it may be in the long penile urethra, and thus invisible without specialized equipment. Also be aware that oral "cold sores" can be transmitted to the genitals via oral sex or saliva on fingers -- and again, contagious viral particles are sometimes shed without a visible outbreak -- so you may wish to consider whether you want to include dental dams with partners.

Good luck!
eavanmoore 13th-Feb-2015 02:20 am (UTC)
Did you and he both get tested for herpes as part of the STD testing you mentioned? It sounds like not, based on your worries. If not then it probably wouldn't hurt anything [but your budget, potentially] to get a blood test for herpes. It honestly sounds much more like a yeast infection, but as a fellow hypochondriac I know how hard it is to lay your fears to rest.
acs80 13th-Feb-2015 02:55 am (UTC)
Thanks to you both! My doc told me the HSV blood test would not necessarily be helpful because it could potentially come back positive even if I just have the herpes strain that causes canker sores, which is extremely common. So knowing what a worrier I am, she thought I shouldn't get the test, since if it came back positive I'd freak the hell out.

Did she give me bad info?

I don't know which tests my partner got. I just asked him to get tested for STDs and I'm guessing herpes wasn't part of that panel. Unfortunately we left things on quite bad terms, so unless things get really dire, I can't really reach out to him.

I guess I can see how I feel after the diflucan? I just hate being so worried!!!!
chaos_is_beauty 13th-Feb-2015 04:26 am (UTC)
The Monistat one day treatments do not necessarily relieve all the symptoms of a yeast infection in one day. The pain/itching/discomfort from a yeast infection can stick around for several days while the yeast is cleared.

If you were having a herpes outbreak, I'm pretty sure you would have sores/blisters and the doctor would have been able to tell right away. Also, I have been told that the pain of an initial herpes outbreak is rather excruciating and not at all similar to the discomfort of a yeast infection.

That raw/diaper rashy feeling you describe is the same way I would describe yeast infection discomfort.

It is cold season, so that is probably just a coincidence.

I hope you feel better soon:)
acs80 13th-Feb-2015 04:45 am (UTC)
Chaos, thank you SO VERY MUCH. That made me feel a lot better! What gets me is that my doc told me that it *could be herpes* BEFORE she even gave me the pelvic exam! I wish she would have at least taken a look first so that she could have just diagnosed it as yeast and not put the scary thought in my head in the first place. I latch on to anything scary and then nothing - not logic, not reason, not even evidence - can make me shake it. So even though it makes most sense that this is yeast, I just feel sick to my stomach that it's something more ominous. She told me as I was leaving her office that it was 'definitely not herpes' and to just enjoy the weekend, but the damage had already been done. I haven't had a YI in so long that I couldn't really remember how it felt, but I'm glad you concur, that the raw/diaper rashy feeling is the same for you.

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I think I'm gonna sleep better tonight because of you!!! I appreciate it very much!
bambiblake007 13th-Feb-2015 04:42 am (UTC)
i have ghsv1 (i was diagnosed a yr ago this week actually) and i thought my early symptoms was a yeast infection BUT there was a lot of pain with wat i was goin thru as well as bumps, not just irritation like i got when i came down with a YI..i'm prone to them..diabetic, heavyset..my very 1st OB was terrible (i couldnt hardly pee or poop without burning or pain, my groin was swollen, there was itching; burning in and around my vag, i couldnt sit, i couldnt lay down, i could barely ride in a car or walk, and while i was sleeping i had to go without underwear) trust me, if you were having an OB chances are very good that you'd kno.
acs80 13th-Feb-2015 04:49 am (UTC)
Oh my gosh, that sounds terrible! So so sorry to hear about all your pain. No, I'm not really in pain at all - I mean, I have the irritation, but if I'm just sitting here, I don't feel anything. It mostly hurts right after I pee (I think my somewhat concentrated urine just burns it a little bit) but that's it.

I guess I didn't realize that herpes was so painful? I thought it was just irritation.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, and I'm sorry you have to go through this!
queenofthesmoke 13th-Feb-2015 08:42 am (UTC)
You've ready been given great advice of how to proceed but I thought I'd chime in and say your symptoms sound like my YI symptoms - raw feeling, not much itch, white clumpy discharge, most noticeable after I pee, etc.

I get flares when I'm extra stressed or run down - chances are having the cold made you extra run down and stressed!

Edited at 2015-02-13 08:56 am (UTC)
acs80 13th-Feb-2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
Ah, thanks, queen! Right after I posted my question last night I saw your post about swabs/YI tests not being accurate, and it actually made me feel better, since it sounds like maybe we're dealing with the same problem (though your infections really sound like a plague, and I'm sorry to hear that!).

The cold and infection coinciding are kind of a chicken and the egg thing: is the infection herpes and did it cause the cold, or did I have a cold and get run down, which made me more susceptible to a yeast infection?

I've been on the Diflucan for about 12 hours and am not feeling marked difference yet, but I realize I need to give it a little more time still.
pastafresca 13th-Feb-2015 09:09 am (UTC)
EEE) Why are you so afraid of herpes? Its just nothing. believe a hypochondriac ) Stay calm, you will be alife.
mangofandango 13th-Feb-2015 08:24 pm (UTC)
Hey, it's true that people with HSV are usually just fine most of the time, and it is very possible to have a virus like this and still have a safe and active sex life, and so on. However, the OP has stated that they are upset, and Your comment feels dismissive of their very real feelings.

It's true that there is a lot of unnecessary and harmful stigma surrounding STIs, but we need to keep in mind that individuals are often affected by that stigma in ways that induce a lot of fear and shame. And of course, herpes can be painful and difficult too, and we shouldn't minimize the fact that some folks do suffer from it.
wyldlittlepoet 14th-Feb-2015 05:39 am (UTC)
Heya! I have HSV1 on my genitals, and it doesn't sound anything like my initial outbreak (which, incidentally, coincided with my first ever YI to make a terrible painful mess of my vulva.) The pain of my initial HSV-1 outbreak was excruciating. I couldn't walk or sit or sleep comfortably. If you're just experiencing some mild discomfort and don't have any open lesions, you're probably fine!

And worst case scenario if you have HSV, Valtrex is an amazing drug and takes care of outbreaks in a jiffy. I try to keep hydrated and healthy and I've only had one additional outbreak in the 2+ years since my initial outbreak. I took Valtrex for a few days and it resolved itself with almost no pain and absolutely no fuss.

I hope you feel better soon!
acs80 14th-Feb-2015 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Wyld! I'm so grateful to get some feedback from people who actually have HSV, since googling will pretty much drive you up the wall, and the symptoms for both YI and HSV can be so vague and general that you can attribute them to either/or. When you say you had excruciating pain with your first outbreak (which is what several other people have written here as well), how would you describe the pain? I mean, I had definite irritation and raw feeling at first; that has now gone away for the most part and has been replaced with some mild itching. I am probably about 36 hours out from taking my first dose of Diflucan, so I don't know if that's a reasonable enough time to expect major results or not. But is the pain you describe more of like an internal pain? I know that's an awkwardly worded question but I'm not sure how else to put it. It's clear to me that the irritation I experienced was totally superficial; by that I mean, it was all on the actual skin surface and resulted from the fissures that had developed on the vulva (which is why it was worse right after I peed, too; the pee washing over the raw areas was what gave me the burning sensation). I have a couple friends who are doctors and I asked one of them last night about my symptoms and what he thought about them, and he said, 'definitely not herpes, herpes is always associated with pain.' But then when you Google it several sites say that some people have no symptoms at all. So that's what's leaving me confused. Anecdotally, though, at least from this site, it does seem like really terrible pain is pretty common with an outbreak (especially the first one) and that there would be some pretty obvious signs pointing to HSV...?

Also, can you explain the difference between the lesions you experience with HSV and the "fissures" that can accompany a yeast infection? When my doctor gave me the pelvic exam she said that the fissures were common in YIs but I don't know how one would differentiate between those and herpes lesions?

Edited at 2015-02-14 04:28 pm (UTC)
wyldlittlepoet 14th-Feb-2015 04:54 pm (UTC)
The best way I can explain the pain is that it felt like the whole area was swollen (which it was!) and the pain was radiating outwards. It wasn't a superficial sort of pain, but it wasn't very deep, either. Just...a lot of pain.

In my experience, fissures from YIs resolve pretty quickly on their own. The HSV sores are similar (in fact, I initially thought I just had plain old garden variety vaginal fissures) but they get progressively worse and don't heal on their own.
datinggroups Herpes Is Nothing But A Skin Condition5th-May-2015 08:39 am (UTC)
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