What To Do If You’re Diagnosed With Genital Herpes
It’s OK to have a lot of feelings and questions when you’re diagnosed with herpes. But no matter how you’re feeling, try to remember that you’re not alone, and your diagnosis doesn’t define you. It’s also important to remember that you can still live a perfectly normal and happy life with herpes. According to Planned Parenthood, the best thing you can do after your diagnosis is to follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment. That said, Planned Parenthood notes that if you’re struggling with your diagnosis, you can talk to a trusted family member, friend, or therapist to help you cope.
How Do You Know You Have Herpes
When a person has oral herpes, “cold sores” or “fever blisters” can show up on the lips or around the mouth. These sores may also show up inside the mouth, but this usually only happens the first time oral herpes symptoms appear.
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms, have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed, or have symptoms but do not recognize them as a sign of infection. Genital herpes symptoms include blisters, sharp pain or burning feelings if urine flows over sores, an inability to urinate if severe swelling of sores blocks the urethra , itching, open sores, and pain in the infected area.
Effects Of Genital Herpes Stigma
My internalization of genital herpes stigma revealed itself to me the moment that I received my diagnosis. When I heard the word herpetic, my mind worked into overdrive as it scanned the accumulated stereotypes and messages that my brain had received over my 22 years of life: dirty, diseased, unworthy, and unlovable.
As days passed following my initial diagnosis, the effects of stigma did not retreat, but my curiosity expanded. I wanted to know more about herpes: how I contracted it, who I contracted it from, and how it would alter my life. While some of my questions remain unanswered to this day, my research led me to rationalize genital herpes for what it is: a common infection transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. While stigma was somewhat navigable, my emotions teetered on the edge of a sinking ship.
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Talking Herpes With Charles Ebel
Is it difficult to adjust to a herpes diagnosis? What about the emotional impact of herpes? How do you talk to a new sexual partner about a herpes infection? Co-author of Managing Herpes: Living & Loving with HSV,Charles Ebel, discussed answers these questions and more, explaining that it is possible to have genital herpes and have a perfectly satisfying sex life!
What can you do to speed the process of adjusting to herpes? Keep in mind the following:
- Realize that its normal to be stressed emotionally by herpes, especially at first. Give yourself time to adjust, and remember that the emotional issues will get easier.
- Try to keep in mind that genital herpes is somewhat like other infections you may have had in the past. You are capable of managing it.
- If youre feeling isolated, you may need to find someone to talk to. Perhaps you might pick one close friend and tell her or him about it. You can ask that the conversation be kept in absolute confidence. You can also visit a local HELP group if there is one in your area, or visit our online support forum.
- Try not to make the assumption that having herpes will prevent you from being romantically involved or having successful long-term relationships. There are millions of couples in which one or both partners have this virus. For the vast majority, the relationships stand or fall on far more important issues.
How Is Herpes Transmitted
Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact which happens often through sexual contact or sexual intimacy, but can also happen during touching or kissing of a completely non-sexual nature, like from a parent to a child. Although rare, genital herpes can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her baby during vaginal birth.
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Dermatologists Tips For Treating Cold Sores At Home
Although most cold sores heal on their own, there are things you can do to help lessen the symptoms. This is what dermatologists tell their patients:
To reduce the time that you have a cold sore: At the first sign of a cold sore, gently apply an antiviral cold sore medicine. You can buy some without a prescription. Look for a product that contains docosanol or benzyl alcohol.
To lessen pain, burning, or itch: Place ice on the cold sore or suck on ice chips. You can also apply a non-prescription gel or ointment that can help relieve pain. These usually contain either benzocaine, lidocaine, dibucaine, or benzyl alcohol.
To lessen the pain: Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
To avoid pain caused by foods: Some foods can cause burning if they touch a cold sore. You can avoid this by not eating foods that contain acid, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Avoiding foods that are salty or spicy can also help.
To minimize redness and irritation: Place a clean, cold, wet towel on the sores for 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day.
To avoid dry, cracked skin: Gently apply petroleum jelly to the sores and surrounding skin.
Coping With The Diagnosis
Although learning you have herpes can be stressful because of the stigma associated with the disease, herpes is simply a virus like any other. A herpes diagnosis says nothing about how you live your life. It says nothing about who you are.
As hard as it may be to believe, people with herpes can date and have happy and fulfilling sexual lives with herpes. This is not to suggest you wont encounter challenges or need time to adjust.
The very act of disclosing your status to a sexual partner can be extremely stressful not disclosing it can be even worse. There is a chance you may be rejected if your partner finds out or that you may pass the infection to others even if you use condoms.
But, its important that attitude to herpes is fast-changing. The public is better appraised about how the virus is spread and what you can do to protect yourself against not only herpes but a host of the common STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.
To normalize herpes in your life, you need to first embrace self-acceptance. It is a process that may take time, but one that can help you rein in feelings of depression you may be struggling with.
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How To Prevent Further Herpes Outbreaks
Great news ââ you can prevent herpes outbreaks with the right treatment.
The same treatment used to treat outbreaks can also be taken as a preventative measure. But daily suppressive antivirals may not be right for everyone, so youâll need to ask your doctor if this type of treatment is worth it for you.
According to one study, people who see six or more genital herpes outbreaks per year can see a 70%â80% reduction in outbreaks with daily antiviral treatment.
You may also be able to reduce herpes outbreaks by reducing stress. A meta-analysis of the relationship between psychosocial stress and symptomatic herpes simplex virus recurrence revealed âa robust relationship between psychosocial stress and symptomatic HSV recurrence.â You may want to take some deep breaths and develop some solid stress management strategies.
Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
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The Impact Of Herpes Stigma
The negative impact that a positive herpes test has on someone’s life can be enormous.
The stigma associated with herpes can make a newly diagnosed person may feel that their life is over or that no one will ever love them again. They may blame their partner for ruining their future and may sink into severe depression.
Genital herpes, typically caused by HSV-2, is contagious. It causes genital lesions and sores and it is rarely associated with severe health problems, more commonly among people who are immunocompromised. It can be deadly for newborn infants.
Oral herpes, which is usually caused by a different infection, HSV-1, is very common. While it isn’t usually sexually transmitted , the name often carries the same stigma as genital herpes.
How Do You Test For Herpes
Only a health care provider can diagnose herpes by performing a physical exam and tests. A blood test can tell if you are infected with oral or genital herpes even if you don’t have symptoms. Health care providers can also confirm herpes infection by testing fluids taken from the sores. If you think you have herpes sores, get them checked out as soon as possible. Your local Planned Parenthood health center, many other health centers that test for sexually transmitted diseases, private health care providers, and health departments offer herpes tests and herpes treatments.
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Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.
Symptoms can be improved by:
- ice packs to the affected area
- pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
- antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.
Enjoy Other Pleasure Routes
Some folks may prefer to not have sex at all during flares, opting instead of non-sexual touch and care. On the other hand, some people may just want to switch things up. Pleasure doesnt have to be taken off the table during a flare-up period.
If you or your partner is experiencing a flare period, talk together about what might help you feel good. Maybe youll opt for sensual massage or for sexting each other. Maybe youll masturbate together or try out a different sex act that is a lower risk during your flare-up.
Basically, know that you dont have to shut your sexual self down because youre having a flare-up. You can choose to do other sensual/sexual activities that can help foster body positivity and closeness with your partner. Or, if you want to take this as a period of rest, thats fine, too the choice is yours.
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Tips For Dealing With Herpes And Depression
1. Admit youre depressed. The feelings are overwhelming, thats the problem with depression. Its no wonder they say depression is like a dark cloud that follows you around everywhere. Admitting youre feeling horrible is half the problem.
Now these feelings will go away with time, but in the meantime you can acknowledge you feel just terrible. Youve got good reasons to feel that way.
2. Go get help if youre really depressed or suicidal. And call someone! If youre feeling life cant go on with this diagnosis, its time for some help. These feelings are serious! Herpes is not that big a deal, a skin condition that is treatable. It wont kill you. But suicidal thoughts and depression can! I just lost a cousin to suicide and it hurt so many people in my family. So call a psychologist, ask your family for help, or call a hotline.
Get some help. Many people need psychological support to get over issues like this. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can get on with your life.
Heres some U.S suicide prevention numbers and/or websites:
a. Suicide Prevention Lifeline
They have numbers from around the world.
d. Heres a list of some more international numbers:
Herpes Opportunity Support Forum:
With 70,000 posts and 10,000 topics, Herpes Support Forum is once again a growing community of herpes singles across the world. The tagline used by the forum, which is – It is not a Deal breaker, It is an Opportunity helps users see the other side of the story.
The forum tries to help the users to see herpes as an opportunity to rediscover themselves. With subforums like motivational quotes, love happens, moving forward, and much more, help you to find something relatable.
All the subforums are, of course, open threads hence you can express your story quite openly. Also, the community is a great place to purchase some of the audio courses to help herpes singles.
Courses such as self-care, dating, and relationships, having the talk and sex & intimacy can help any herpes single to live a fulfilling life without any self-doubt. Also, if you do not want to invest in the courses right away, you can download the free handbooks and E-Books to start with.
This was all about the three most famous forums for herpes singles and HSV Singles. You need to make sure that you signup for at least one of the communities to talk to others like you.
Remember, herpes is just a medical condition that does not define you. You have all the rights to feel loved, and this is the sole purpose of these forums. So join them now and make friends and form relationships that can help you curate a better life.
Make sure you win this battle with herpes.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
Treating herpes meningoencephalitis as soon as possible is essential. If youre feeling neck stiffness, having any neurological problems , are sensitive to light, or are running a fever along with a bad headache, call your healthcare provider and have the problem treated promptly.
If you have already been diagnosed with herpes meningoencephalitis and are being treated, it’s very important to let your healthcare providers know if any of your symptoms get worse or if you develop any new symptoms, as these could be signs that the infection is getting worse despite treatment.
Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
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How To Learn And Talk About Genital Herpes
Herpes is almost never a life-threatening illness, and it has few long-term health effects for most people. For this reason, says Henderson, you can come to view it as an inconvenience. Its only right, however, to deal with it responsibly.
Here are tips to help you stay calm while you deal with all the thoughts and feelings that a herpes diagnosis can bring.
Before discussing herpes with a partner, learn the facts yourself. Really educate yourself as much as you can so you can help your partner or potential partner to understand, says Henderson. Knowledge is power, and it supports your emotional power.
Dr. Handsfield agrees. Herpes has a tremendous psychological overlay, he says, but knowledge about the disease can reduce that.
See a medical professional. To get your facts straight, speak with a doctor or other healthcare practitioner. You can do internet research for general background information, says Henderson, but talking with a medical professional can make a world of difference. A doctor can tell you what is going on with you specifically, and also be empathetic.
For the best protection against giving another person the virus, says Handsfield, you would have to do three things:
- First, avoid sex during outbreaks.
- Second, use condoms regularly.
- Third, take antiviral drugs.
How To Get Rid Of Herpes Symptoms Naturally
By Joe Boland
Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases , prompting many to wonder how to get rid of herpes naturally.
The herpes virus can live dormant inside a persons immune system for a lifetime, periodically causing blisters that burst and turn into open cold sores or ulcers before healing. When left alone, herpes cold sores usually last about 1014 days and are uncomfortable for a variety of reasons causing redness, pain, burning and often embarrassment.
Many people wonder if there is a natural cure for herpes or are looking for ways on how to get rid of herpes for good. While technically the virus that causes herpes is not curable, there are many natural herpes remedies that can put herpes into remission. In fact, many people with herpes dont experience any symptoms at all, especially long term, once they learn to manage triggers of outbreaks. So while theres no guide for how to get rid of herpes naturally, there is a method for how to get rid of herpes symptoms the natural way and keep breakouts at bay.
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