Genital herpes: Hi, I've just been diagnosed with... - BASHH


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Genital herpes

mandda profile image

Hi, I've just been diagnosed with genital herpes and don't know exactly what to do. The doctor gave me the correct medication but psicologicaly I'm devastated. My partner is being comprehensive and kind, but is also a little scared and anxious. He's gonna make an appointment in his gp asap to get tested and see if he's got the virus too. We always have protected sex but we never know. Can anyone who is dealing with this virus for longer than me help with tips about how to not panick? I'm very scared about developing another illness because of herpes, like cancer or something in my brain. Also, can i exercisd during an outbreak? Going to the gym etc?

Thank you very much for your help. Amanda.

16 Replies

Yea doesn't stop u exercises. Get your anti virals and sea salt baths at least twice a week.

Missdespair profile image
Missdespair in reply to Hmm-

Do sea salt baths twice a week forever ? Or during outbreak

Hmm- profile image
Hmm- in reply to Missdespair

Have a salt bath once or twice daily during an outbreak and 2-3 times a week to prevent one and lesson symptoms. Helps bulld natural immunity.

Mandda, I've been there, and understand how scared and upset you must be. When I got diagnosed nearly 10 years ago I thought I'd never have sex or get a new partner again due to the huge stigma around it, and that my life was essentially over, and I was distraught. I was horrified at the idea of having to tell anyone I wanted to have sex with, and was sure they'd all recoil and run away from me when I told them.

But in reality it hasn't impacted my life much at all since then. I do tell any new potential partners about it before we have sex (even protected sex) because there is a small risk to them every time, and I want them to know about that (I'd feel terrible if I kept it a secret, and they got symptoms later... give them the information they need to make their own choices for their own health, and you'll feel much better for it. I promise you'll get used to bringing up awkward issues about sexual health, and it's much better to be honest and informed about everything to do with this than to keep things hidden and worry).

Almost every partner I've had since my diagnosis has been brilliant about it, and it's restored my faith in people. Learn all you can about the condition, which should help reduce your worries, and help you communicate the facts to your partner (and any potential future partners :) Be aware this virus doesn't go away, and personally I think it's your responsibility to tell anyone first (because I'd want to know the risks before I had sex with someone who knew they had this virus) but I know how scary this is, especially at first. But remember anyone who judges and rejects you for having a medical condition is not someone invested in your general wellbeing and accepting you for who you are, so don't let any hurtful things anyone says to you in the future sink in and affect how you feel about yourself. Having HSV is not your fault, and is not a sign of being "dirty" or "irresponsible" or "slutty" or anything at all like that.

I got mine from oral sex with a person who'd had coldsores before (and my test showed I have HSV1 instead of HSV2, but it's still genital herpes), so it doesn't matter how safe you might be when it comes to PIV sex if you're not also practicing safer oral sex: this can happen to anyone. You may have contracted it from your current partner even if he doesn't have symptoms, or a partner years in the past. Literally no way of knowing, so please neither of you get caught up in any sort of blame game. It's just a fact that you now have to deal with. I'm glad that so far he's being kind and understanding though :)

You can transmit the virus either when you have an outbreak, before, or just after, even if you use condoms, because your body can shed the virus itself with skin-to-skin contact that your partner can pick up, as all of your skin isn't covered with condoms.

I don't say that to scare you or anyone else, but just to normalise it a bit: 70% of people in the UK have or will get herpes at some point, and only 1/3 get symptoms. To try and reassure you and your partner, remember that it doesn't have anything to do with infidelity either, because you can carry the virus for a long time (even years) without knowing it. It's more normal to have a herpes infection than not.

Since my diagnosis I've had unprotected sex on a regular basis with four long term monogamous partners, after we talked about my status and what it might mean for them, what the risks were of them getting it, etc. They all made this decision knowing there was a chance they might get it, but a chance they had it already, and that it might make no difference to them. Also that there were more people out there carrying the virus who didn't know about it, so they were at risk any time they had sex, and it actually wasn't that a big a deal anyway.

Obviously if anyone wants to reduce their chances then using condoms is a great idea (and don't take it as a personal insult if someone wants to do this... I've felt hurt when I've occasionally faced this attitude, which isn't meant to be judgmental or hurtful at all, and is just them covering all their bases, for their own and any current/future partners' health), and definitely abstain from sex while you're having an outbreak, and take the meds as soon as you notice anything... this approach has meant that none of my partners have developed any symptoms, so your partner shouldn't panic unnecessarily, even if he does turn out to be a carrier :)

In all honesty, my first few outbreaks REALLY sucked. Like, I felt like I had flu all over, not to mention the specific pain, and I was scared and upset it would always be like that (and called in sick to work a few times). But after the first year it's happened less and less for me, and my outbreaks now are almost entirely non-events, to the point where I can barely tell if something is a sign of an outbreak or an ingrown hair.

I really recommend getting hold of a spare stash of acyclovir tablets to take straight away when you notice any symptoms at all (look out for what they call "pro-drome phase" to predict an incoming outbreak, which for me is like that flu-ish ache deep within an upper thigh, often about halfway down underneath, aching on the inside). GUM clinics are usually good about giving you spare supplies for free even if your GP won't, and having them on hand to start taking as soon as you're worried can reduce/prevent the outbreak, and make it less transmissible too.

I've unfortunately also got HPV from a different partner (the kind that causes warts, not the kind that causes cancer). It's also an extremely minimal influence in my life, and I've needed treatment only twice in 5 years, and I'm not worried about it. I don't know whether it has anything to do with having HSB; maybe, but there's no point in lamenting that now just in dealing with the situations as the arise.

You can look after your health by getting smear tests every 3 years when you get the letter, and also just get a standard STI checkup once a year at a GUM clinic, whether you've had any new partners or not. If you make it into something you just do every year, to check up on your own heath, then you get less worried about what people might think, such as if your partner will worry you think he's been unfaithful, or worry that YOU've been unfaithful, or whatever. Getting tested regularly, no matter what the circumstances, is a really good thing to do for your health and for any of your partners' health, and it means that if you're used to doing it anyway, if you do ever have any concerns then it's less of a big deal to go and see someone about it. I will encourage anyone and everyone to regularly get themselves tested as a default, to just completely remove any stigma and judgment around it, and make it more ok for people to go to a clinic if they have any cause for concern. Also, every STI is treatable these days - even if you're scared you have one that can't be cured, it can definitely be treated, so don't be afraid of finding out - the known you can deal with is always better than the unknown that you can't.

I've had zero other STIs in my life, and no cancer either, and no reason to suspect I might :) I would have skipped exercising during my early outbreaks when I felt so terrible, but there's really no reason why you can't do whatever you feel comfortable doing, and you'll be fine :) It's possible to live with HSV and HPV, and have a great life. Trust me on this :)

mandda profile image
mandda in reply to S4pphire

Thank you very much for your reply and support. I know it sounds very cliché but since I got the diagnostic I started to think about my life and everything I would like to change (necessarily or not). I feel like I finally woke up to do something amazing of my life, to help people and stopping making the same mistakes. No one is looking forward to be diagnosed with stis, but I truly believe we can make a lemonade out of a lemon. Once again, thank you for your help!

You have each other, be strong for each other. Definalty get some aciclovir. I went from episodic treatment to now suppression therapy (2 a day tablets) have not had an outbreak since and feel so much better about it!! My girlfriend knows I have it but nobody else so I know how you are feeling. Have a good read up on and spehere website and it will make you worry less when you know the facts and how herpes is not dangerous. I was concerned about when having children and my GUM clinic advised that out of 25million babies born 10 would be passed on herpes. Mainly becuase couples wernt aware they had it. They can give you anti virals during pregnancy to prevent an outbreak so it does pass onto babies. As for cancer on the brain, I didn't know there was a link to it??!

Thank you for your reply. I have come to a conclusion that we will always find different approaches when it comes to stis. I have been reading a lot, practically all the websites I saw in front of my face and sometimes we find information that clearly isn't true. The linking with cancer or a illness in the brain came as a complication of herpes that is extremely rare...but not all the websites I found were showing the same thing. I have a return with my doctor in 2 weeks time and I'm gonna ask everything I have in mind. I had the chance to ask when she gave me the diagnostic but I was panicking so much that I couldn't say a world. Thank you for your support!!!

natedrake profile image
natedrake in reply to mandda

I think the cancer confusion is that people confuse harmless HSV (herpes simplex virus) with HPV (human papilloma virus) some strains can cause cancer.

Hi. how did u find results? what was simptom? when i had a bid coldsore on my genital i wens to sexual health to check up. And they said its clear. after 6 years its came again and i an start to worry that i might have herpes and want to have a baby but i am scaring to get pregnant.

tylee profile image
tylee in reply to selya

Selya, out of 25 million babies that are born not about 10 are passed on the disease. Go to your gynecologist, get the results and if it does become positive for the disease they can put you on Anti Disease meds for pregnancy. Which will protect you and your child.

gnaturally profile image
gnaturally in reply to selya

I've had 4 babies. Only advice was to have a section if I had an outbreak at delivery. My 4 babies were and are all fine

selya profile image
selya in reply to gnaturally

how your doctor found out that u got herpes? what did he check blood or swap?

gnaturally profile image
gnaturally in reply to selya

It was 24 years ago. I went to GUM clinic and they did swabs and bloods

mandda profile image
mandda in reply to selya

Both. As soon as the doctor did the swab and checked using the microscope, she gave me the diagnostic. I received the results by text 2 days later confirming I have hsv type 1.

selya profile image
selya in reply to mandda

did you ask them to check about herpes? or they found out?

I am checked myself every year they said i got nothing its clear but before period i got itchy coldsore on my genital so why i am worring.

Sorry to have to say it, does sound like herpes. Sti checks don't check for herpes on standard check ups, you need to have a blood test. Or swab an active sore.

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