How Will My Healthcare Provider Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.
Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or when you got the infection.
Set The Tone Of The Conversation
You want to be clear and confident, and you also dont want to talk about your infection as if its a huge problem. Dont use overly negative words and dont open by saying something like, Ive got some terrible news for you, or promise you wont freak out, as this sets the wrong tone and telling someone not to freak out is the best way to actually make them freak out. Start the conversation by saying something like, Ive just had the results of a test and Ive found out I have an infection that causes genital herpes.
Why Do I Need To Tell My Partner
This risk factor changes depending on the frequency of sex and what protective steps you normally take. For example, if you strictly avoid sex during an active herpes outbreak , the risk will be lower. It also matters for how long the infected partner has had the virus since the latter gets weaker with every year in the body.
So, given that theres an undeniable risk of contagion but also that this risk can be reduced with the right steps, you owe your partner a frank discussion. If your partner really loves you, he or she wont leave over something as trivial as herpes. After all, its not a harmful disease, you can do a lot to lower the transmission risk, and the outbreaks, if they occur, are treatable.
And theres absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. 8 out of every 10 people have a herpes virus in their bodies. So, having herpes reflects neither on your character or lifestyle. In fact, its very likely that your partner already has HSV-1 or HSV-2, perhaps even without his or her knowledge. So, once you have told your partner about your own herpes infection, encourage him or her to also get tested for herpes. Its a simple and reliable test.
Case #3 Were Both Having Our First Herpes Outbreak Who Is The Culprit
A 29-year-old woman, Alexis, came in with a genital rash that was tested for HSV-2 with a swab the results came back positive.
This is her first outbreak and sheâs very concerned.
A few days later, she came back to the office with her boyfriend, Eduardo, who has a penile rash. He tested positive for the same type of herpes.
They started arguing and accusing each other of cheating.
Hereâs what both Eduardo and Alexis said:
- Theyâve been tested after each partner
- The results of their âcompleteâ STD testing have been negative in the past
- This is the first time theyâve had an outbreak like this
They want to know who gave it to whom.
We tested both Eduardo and Alexis with a herpes IgG blood test, and only Eduardoâs result was positive.
This complicated the issue even more since Alexis had visible symptoms first.
Eduardo got herpes from someone else and passed the infection to Alexis, even though Alexis showed symptoms first.
Dr. Fâs Explanation
- Herpes swab vs. blood test
- Both Alexisâs and Eduardoâs swab tests were positive but only Eduardoâs blood test was positive. The swab test confirms only that a visible lesion is a herpes lesion.
- A blood test tests the bodyâs reaction to the virus and can take from two weeks to three months to be positive.
Remember That Assholes Don’t Deserve Your Time
No matter how misplaced herpes panic may be, it exists, and it may mean your partner reacts in a less-than-satisfactory way when you tell them about your status. “Please realize that others may be afraid of the virus, it’s not you!” Loanzon stresses, while also calling out one notable silver lining: “Herpes can be a natural filter for dating, and eliminate those who will not surround you with support and love.”
“If someone responds negatively or ignorantly,” Watson notes, “you might not be able to change their minds with information. Let them go.” You have to be vulnerable in this moment, and while you can do your best to educate your partner, you shouldnt have to try to convince them to stick around if they get hung up on the herpes.
Because if someone acts immediately hurtful or offensive, or if theyre scared off by your diagnosis, theyre probably not worth your time long-term anyway.
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Are Canker Sores A Form Of Herpes
Canker sores are different than cold sores. They usually produce a little white spot and a small ulcer in your mouth that heals within a couple of days. In nearly all cases, canker sores arent contagious like herpes-caused cold sores.
Rarely, a subset of canker sores is associated with the herpes virus, Dr. Anthony says. The occasional, one-off canker sore isnt anything to be concerned about. But for severe and frequent canker sores, your doctor may recommend testing for the herpes virus.
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How Herpes Is Diagnosed
Your first step is to make an appointment with your gynecologist if you have a lesion on your genitals or believe you were exposed to herpes. Google really cant tell you if you have genital herpes or not, says Dr. Shim. A diagnosis of herpes can be made with an exam, but your doctor will also order a culture swab from the sore to confirm the virus.
Your doctor can give you advice on easing symptoms, shortening their duration, and preventing outbreaks in the future. Taking the antiviral drug Valtrex daily can decrease transmission to a non-infected partner, says Dr. Shirazian. Maintaining general healthy habitsthe stuff you always hear like eating healthy, staying active, and getting enough sleepgo a long way to keeping your immune system strong to minimize outbreaks.
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What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
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How To Talk To Your Boyfriend About Having Herpes
Talking about sex is something that in general we dont feel comfortable about. As adults we get all uncomfortable when a sex topic comes up and its like we turn into little kids. Its so funny. But at the same time its a real problem. We need to learn how to talk to our partners about sex and that includes safe sex, birth control, desires and so on.
Today were talking about how to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about having herpes before you have sex with them. This entire idea sounds absolutely terrifying and scary. Ive said it many times that when were diagnosed with herpes one of the biggest fears is to tell our partner that we have herpes. But its the inevitable and its totally worth it when you have the right person in your life.
When Are Cold Sores Contagious
Youre most likely to spread the virus when you have symptoms. These include blister-like sores in and around your mouth. For many people, a tingling sensation or itch precedes a visible outbreak.
Cold sores usually heal within seven to 10 days. But, says Dr. Anthony, that doesnt mean contact is entirely safe afterward. You can shed the virus even when you dont have any lesions. Its less likely, but theres still a risk.
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The Right Person Wont Reject You
The truth is, some people will reject you when they find out you have herpes. To quote a herpes support forum poster, dating with herpes can be stressful. However, if you do these things, then being diagnosed with herpes is not the end of the world:
- Talk about your diagnosis early
- Have information handy so that you can talk honestly about the actual risks and concerns of the disease
- Be willing to do what you can to reduce the chance you will spread herpes to your partner
Numerous people with genital and oral herpes are open about disclosing their condition. Most of them have active, happy dating and sexual lives. The truth is, its so hard to meet the right person that dating with herpes makes it only the tiniest bit harder. Life after herpes doesnt mean life without love.
How Is Genital Herpes Spread
- Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection
- Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection
- Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes or
- Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.
If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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Reduce The Risk Sex Will Spread Herpes
One of the things that scares people when theyre thinking about dating with herpes is the risk for potential partners. Theyre concerned about the possibility that they might spread herpes to someone they care about. This is a legitimate concern.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the likelihood you will spread herpes during sex. Suppressive therapy, for example, can lower the risk of transmission significantly. Its not just good for reducing the number and severity of outbreaks.
Using condoms consistently, even for oral sex, can also make a big difference in your partners risk. Condoms and dental dams dont just make intercourse safer. They also make it less likely for you to spread herpes from your genitals to their mouth, and vice versa. Practicing safe sex is always a good choice.
Example Disclosure Of Diagnosis
I like how things are going in our relationship, and Im hoping well end up in bed sometime soon. Before we do, I wanted to let you know that I have genital herpes. I take suppressive therapy and havent had an outbreak in a while, so the risk of passing it to you is low.
Still, its not zero, so I wanted you to have a chance to think about it before we get intimate. You dont need to respond right now. When, and if, youre ready, Im happy to talk with you more or to just send you some information.
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Talk To Them About When You Have An Outbreak Or When Your Last One Was
As you can see communication is key here. Yes, the conversations might be a little uncomfortable at first. However the more you can talk about sex, herpes and your sexual health youre going to create a stronger foundation for the two of you. And thats what a relationship is all about.
If this is something that is interesting to you, you might want to check out a podcast I did with my husband, Bill. He talks about what its like to be married to someone with herpes and Bill shares what his first thoughts were when we first started dating and how important communicating about herpes is. You can find his podcast episode here. And Im super excited that Bill will be talking at our upcoming retreat!!! Yay so you can go here to learn more about our retreat and book your seat!
Last but not least the fear of disclosing to your partner is seriously one of the scariest things we deal with when it comes to our diagnosis. So Ive put together a toolkit to walk you through telling your partner. Go here to get yours.
To Tell Or Not To Tell About Genital Herpes Or Cold Sores
Itâs natural to be concerned about telling a new partner that you have genital herpes. Fear of being rejected and perhaps being uncomfortable about sexual health concerns makes it a tricky subject to bring up. However, it is more likely that your partner will respect your openness and honesty and it will be an opportunity to take your relationship to a deeper level of trust and understanding.
There are no black and white rules for telling your partner you have herpes, and everyone needs to make their own decisions depending on the situation, but the fact is more people are accepted by new partners than rejected for having genital herpes.
Some people choose not to tell casual partners. They donât have sex during an outbreak and practice safe sex by using condoms. And this is an OK decision.
In a relationship, ânot tellingâ can cause anxiety and stress affecting your emotional and sexual health.For most people the anxiety over not telling is worse than the telling itself and they find their partners both supportive and understanding. By telling your partner, you are opening up the opportunity to have an honest and shared discussion about other sexual health concerns.
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Tips For Disclosing To Casual Sex Partners
But what if youre just casual sex partners meeting for the first time? No problem. While you likely wont have as much time to prepare for these conversations, you can still prepare a go-to disclosure statement.
Maybe you’re comfortable disclosing at the bar or intimately whispering in your partners ear. If you are in a crowded bar or loud club and choose to disclose in person, just ensure that the other person can fully hear you so that consent is established before moving forward. If you prefer somewhere quieter, maybe ask if they want to take a walk outside to chat. If you are in a group, be sure that others in your party know where youre headed.
You can even use the texting method when youre meeting a potential partner for the first time at a bar if you cant find the courage to say it aloud. For example, if you strike up a flirtatious conversation with someone, asking for their number may be the key to your disclosure. Then you can text them something like, Hey . Im having a lot of fun tonight, and Id like to go further. But before we do, I need to share with you that I have genital herpes. You can offer a statistic, personal story, or maybe even weave some more flirting. That way, they can think things through before they give you a response.
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.
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Should You Tell A Partner You Have Herpes
Disclose your HSV status to anyone you’re getting involved with. “I encourage everyone to share their diagnosis with their partners so that everyone can make the healthiest decisions for themselves,” Dr. Baldwin said.
You should also inform your partner about your herpes status for legal reasons. “There are so many lawsuits of people suing someone else for giving them herpes,” said Terri Warren, ANP, a nurse practitioner at Westover Heights Clinic and spokesperson for the American Sexual Health Association. By not telling your partner you have herpes, they lack the information needed to protect their health.