Talk With Your Health Care Provider About Sexual Health
When you visit your health care provider, you should discuss sex as it relates to your health. Your healthcare provider calls this taking a sexual history and it helps them to understand what STD tests you may need.
Here are a few questions you should expect and be prepared to answer honestly:
- Have you been sexually active in the last year?
- Do you have sex with men, women, or both?
- In the past 12 months, how many sexual partners have you had?
- What are you doing to protect yourself from STDs?
You can find additional questions your health care provider may ask in this guideexternal icon.
You can ask them questions, too! For example, you may want to know how to protect yourself from getting an STD, which STD tests you will be getting, or how often to get tested. Make the most of your visit by thinking through your questions ahead of time.
How Accurate Is The Herpes Test
Taking a swab of a lesion is the most accurate way to test for herpes. If you receive a positive result from a sore, you can be certain that you have herpes. A swab can also tell you whether you have HSV-1 or HSV-2. Unfortunately, a swab can also give you a false negative. Youre especially likely to get a false negative if the lesion has been present for more than 48 hours, as it will begin to heal after that time. False negatives from viral cultures are more likely with each subsequent outbreak.
A PCR test is more accurate than a swab test and is a good option both for those who do have current sores and those who do not.
Blood tests do not look for an active herpes outbreak. Rather, they check the blood for antibodies. There are two types of antibodies that may be present: IgM and IgG. IgG antibodies appear shortly after you become infected with herpes and stay in the body for life. IgG testing is more accurate than IgM testing.
IgM tests can yield a false negative if youve recently become infected with herpes, as you might not have these antibodies yet. Over time, IgM antibodies will go away, so you can get a false negative between outbreaks as well. Some IgM tests also cross-react with similar viruses that cause chickenpox or mono, so you may also get a false positive.
Can You Give Yourself Genital Herpes From Your Own Cold Sore
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Best For Private Pay: Healthlabscom
Why We Chose It: HealthLabs.com offers a price guarantee. If you find the test that you ordered for a lower price elsewhere, it will match that price and provide a 10% discount.
Has a variety of testing options that include at-home herpes testing
Tests are run at the same labs that doctors use
Offer single type-specific tests for HSV-1 or HSV-2, which some people might choose to save money, not realizing that both viruses can infect the genitals
No medical consultation included, although patients can get help interpreting results
With HealthLabs.com, your order and pay for your test online and then go to a local lab to have your blood drawn. Thousands of testing locations are available around the country, and you should be able to find a site near you. Some locations may allow you to make an appointment in advance for testing. Then when you arrive, they will draw your blood and send it off for testing.
The least expensive herpes test that looks for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is $158, and a variety of other testing options are available. FSA cards can be used for purchase. When your test results are available, generally within 1-3 days, you will be sent email instructions to log into your secure online account and access your results. Medical consultations are not available with this company, although it will offer help understanding your test results over the phone or through live chat.
How Do You Get Herpes Away
Many people are asking this question and many people want a quick answer. The fact is that there is no cure for herpes that can eliminate the virus completely. Once you get it, you will always have it in your system. However, there are things that you can do to help prevent outbreaks, which we will get into later in this article.
Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease . Its caused by two types of viruses: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
HSV-1 causes sores around the mouth and lips . HSV-2 causes sores around the genitals or rectum.
Both types of herpes can cause painful blisters and skin ulcers. In some cases, they can cause more serious complications if you have a weakened immune system such as people with HIV/AIDS or those taking medicines that suppress their immune systems.
Theres no cure for herpes, but there are treatments that can help control symptoms and prevent outbreaks from becoming severe.
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Useful Methods Include Testing An Actual Lesion
Keep in mind that thereâs no such thing as âsafeâ sex, only safer sex, which means using protection and being open and honest with your partner. âIt can definitely happen,â Friedman says of the chances of transmitting the virus to a partner without a visible outbreak. âIts called asymptotic shedding there are studies showing that the rates of transmission of HSV-2 are the same for symptomatic and asymptomatic.â He adds that this is why using protection during sexual contact is so important, regardless of what blood tests say. Unfortunately, you can never ensure your risk of transmission will be zero, whether or not you know you have herpes, but using a condom or dental dam will get you closer to it.
Like Hutcherson, Friedman also doesnât recommend blood tests for herpes in the absence of symptoms. âThe tests that are useful involve sampling the actual blister or cold sore,â he says, which can involve smearing scrapes of skin cells from the sore onto a slide, targeting the infected cells. As with some of the blood tests, though, this sampling test still wonât tell you what type of herpes virus is present. A viral culture, on the other hand, will tell you which virus you have, though it takes some time to come back. âDirect fluorescent antibody is by far the best,â Friedman says, âas you can get a result in a matter of hours which can be as useful as a culture.â Not all hospitals have access to this method, however.
What Does The Test Result Mean
Direct detection of the virus
- A positive HSV DNA test or culture indicates that you have an active herpes infection, and the result may indicate if it is HSV-1 or HSV-2.
- A negative PCR test or culture indicates that the herpes simplex virus was not detected, but this does not definitely rule out an infection. False negatives can occur if there is not enough active virus in the sample. This may happen if the lesion is cultured more than 48 hours after the symptoms appear. If suspicion of herpes remains high, repeat testing may be done.
Antibody blood tests
- A positive HSV-1 or HSV-2 IgG antibody test means antibodies are present in your blood, which means you have had an infection in the past even if you haven’t noticed any symptoms. The type of antibody detected indicates the type of HSV infection.
- Negative HSV antibody results mean that it is unlikely that you have been exposed to HSV or it may mean that your body has not had time to begin producing HSV antibodies.
How Does This Herpes Test Work
This is a blood test which you collect from home with the kit provided. After you have bought your test online, we will post your discreet Herpes test pack to your home . Open the pack, where you will find a form, three finger prick lancets, a small gold topped tube, wipes and a return envelope. In addition, we will email you a copy of the sample collection instruction leaflet. The leaflet will give you instructions on how to collect your sample. It is important that you follow the instructions on the leaflet carefully. You will get an email when your results are ready, but you can log on and check online whenever you like.
How Does The At
At-home herpes tests take advantage of the fact that blood tests for herpes are widely available through commercial lab-testing sites. The vast majority of at-home herpes tests use the same tests that would be ordered at the doctors office, provided by the same laboratories. However, instead of going to a doctor, the tests are ordered online. This can be a good option for people who are uncomfortable discussing sexual behavior with their doctor or whose doctor is not willing to test for herpes.
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Preparing To Talk To Partner
Before you talk about herpes and sexual health with a partner, make sure you are prepared to address any misinformation or misconceptions he or she might have. How well informed are you? Do you know the basic steps to reduce the risk to your partner? Do you know the facts about herpes? You want to feel confident and knowledgeable before you can explain the infection to someone else. Be prepared with information from ASHA and other reliable sources.
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A First Episode Of Symptoms
At first you may feel generally unwell with a mild fever and aches and pains. Groups of small, painful blisters then appear around your genitals and/or back passage . They tend to erupt in crops over 1-2 weeks. The blisters soon burst and turn to shallow, sore ulcers.
Images above via Wikimedia Commons
The glands in your groin may swell and feel like lumps at the top of your legs. It is common to have pain when you pass urine, especially in women.
Sometimes less typical symptoms occur. For example, you may just have a small raw area, one or two small ulcers, or just an area of irritation with nothing to see. Sometimes symptoms last just a few days.
Note: sometimes a first episode of symptoms appears months or years after being first infected. This is why a first episode of symptoms can occur during a current faithful sexual relationship. You may have been infected months or years ago from a previous sexual partner who did not realise that they were infected.
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How Do Std Tests Work
Home STD testing kits typically screen for one or more STDs using a urine sample, a blood sample or both types of samples. After the sample is collected, you package it and send it away to a laboratory using an envelope included in the kit. Results are either published anonymously online or provided over the phone or through the mail. You can read the product descriptions to find out more about whats involved with each of the testing kits in this product selection. Make sure to take note of which STDs the kit can detect.
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If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
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When Should I Talk With A Doctor
If you have a primary care doctor who you regularly visit, you can share your results with them to provide better insight into your next steps.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can consult with a physician or nurse from the testing site about treatment options.
If youve been treating your symptoms with medication and are still in pain or discomfort, reach out to a healthcare professional.
What Happens If My Herpes Test Is Positive
We can help you with any support that you need. There is no cure for herpes, but the symptoms can be managed with medication.We can arrange an appointment with a Doctor so that you can discuss the results and get a prescription for the required medication , or you can take your results to your own GP.
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Can You Test For Herpes At Home
Herpes affects millions of people worldwide and while there is no cure for the infection, detection and the right treatment can help prevent or shorten outbreaks – it will also make it less likely for a person to pass the infection on to their partner.
While some healthcare providers may diagnose herpes with a physical exam, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , in some cases they will take a herpes blood test which can check for herpes antibodies. If you would prefer to test from the comfort of home, the most reliable way is with an at-home Herpes Test.
LetsGetCheckeds at-home Herpes Test can detect herpes simplex antibodies and can test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Its important to wait up to 12 weeks after the time of exposure before taking the test. Antibodies can take a while to become detectable so waiting will make sure you get the most accurate results. Of course, if youre sexually active – regular testing is a must.
The test will arrive in discreet packaging with a return envelope and clear instructions. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated clinical team will be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the process. Should you need more information about taking your sample, you can find out more here.
How Often Should I Get Tested And Re
The CDC recommends that you only test for herpes if you have been exposed or are having symptoms. This is because people who get positive test results while asymptomatic arent likely to change their behavior to keep their sexual partners safe. So, unless youve been exposed or are developing sores, its not a likely test to be on your run-of-the-mill STD panel.
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General Measures That May Help To Ease Symptoms When They Occur
- Painkillers such as paracetamol may help to ease pain.
- If it is painful when you pass urine, it is often less painful if you pass urine whilst sitting in a warm bath or with water flowing over the area.
- A numbing ointment that you can buy at pharmacies, called lidocaine 5% gel, may relieve itching or pain. Some people also apply ointment about five minutes before passing urine if this is painful. Note: some people are sensitive to anaesthetic ointments, and the ointment then makes skin symptoms worse. Applying VaselineÂ® before passing urine may be a helpful alternative to anaesthetic ointment.
- Ice wrapped in a tea towel placed over the sores for 5-10 minutes may be soothing. Do not put ice directly on to skin, as this may cause an ice burn.
- Have plenty to drink. This can help to make your urine less strong and less concentrated. This may make passing urine less painful.
- Do not use scented soaps, bubble bath, etc, as these may irritate. Gentle cleaning of the sores with just cotton wool and plain or salt water is best. Gentle drying with a hairdryer on its lowest setting may be more comfortable than with a towel.
- When you resume sexual activity after an episode has cleared, a lubricant may help, as some people find the friction of having sex may trigger a recurrence.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with an STD
- Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a latex condom. Also, herpes virus can be released from areas of the skin that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If you are in a relationship with a person known to have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting genital herpes if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medication every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her doctor.