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The Top Ten Questions About Genital Herpes: Everything You Always Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask
One late-night talk-show lessor is esteemed for his top-ten lists.
I hope he won’t mind, but I’m going to borrow his idea. Here’s my top-ten record of questions asked most often about genital herpes.
They come from patients at my clinic and from the WebMD note board.
And if your debate isn’t in here, I hazard you’ll find it farther along in the book.
1. How did I gain genital herpes?
Herpes is passed from one partner to another through sexual contact.
You get it from someone who has herpes through intercourse, getting verbal or anal sex, or genital to genital rubbing. You don’t earn it from touching doorknobs or sharing sad jeans or washroom seats—unless, of course, you’re having sex on a wc seat, but that’s for a finished different book.
A closely related, often-asked issue is, “Could I posses gotten herpes through a sexual encounter that didn’t involve intercourse?” Lap dancing, vocal sex, genital rubbing, and mutual masturbation are all alive and well, and transpire with substantial frequency.
Sometimes these activities arise with people who aren’t typical partners or spouses, and that can effect concerns about the wager of receipt an STI (sexually transmitted infection). First, contract me assure you with flawless certainty that you can’t get genital herpes while you own your costume on and someone is “dancing” on your lap. It doesn’t even query if there’s moisture present.
The virus doesn’t somehow “wick” through textile and contaminate the genitals.
When the clothes come off, however, and genitals are rubbing directly together, there is a arise of recipience herpes.
And the real pledge of receipt genital herpes during a single sexual encounter is extremely low, but it’s not zero. Receiving said sex moreover presents some pledge too, but now the pledge changes to one of being infected with the cold-sore virus, herpes simplex virus genus 1 (HSV 1), in the genital area. HSV 1 (very often, oral herpes) can be transmitted from the maw of one comrade to the genitals of a sex person through spoken sex, even if the giver doesn’t keep an active cold sore.
And finally, what about when one friend masturbates another? This is truly harmless sex as far as herpes is concerned.
Unless someone has a herpes lesion on his or her hand, which is so rare it’s not worth even
considering, masturbation presents no risk for transmission.
“Okay,” you say, “but what if the comrade touches his or her genitals and then touches mine?” Again, the wager is so low; don’t spend any occasion and liveliness even worrying about it.
2. Now that I own herpes, can I ever obtain sex again?
Yes, you definitely can, but I’m not going to misdirect you by axiom that sex bequeath be the alike as it was before.
There’s a venture of giving herpes to an uninfected partner, and you absence to deal head-on with that issue.
First, you should acquaint all future partners about your herpes before you retain sex so that they can make educated decisions about their bet of receipt infected.
It may be hard to advise your partner, but you’ll recognize in your core that it’s the rectify thing to do. If your man doesn’t hold herpes (and he or she would privation a blood test to comprehend for sure), he or she commit be vulnerable to getting herpes from you. Daily herpes medication and condoms greatly reduce the wager of transmission, but neither offers totally complete prevention—not even when used together. If your fellow already has the identical style of herpes you do, then you can posses sex unbiased as you did before you had herpes
3. Will genital herpes cut my life?
That one’s easy— fairly not! In years past, there was concern that herpes might be linked to cervical cancer, but we know now that human papillomavirus (HPV), not herpes, causes cervical cancer. I know—it’s viable to obtain all those viruses that begin with H varied up.
4. Can herpes be cured?
Right now, there’s no published treat for herpes.
But in 1981 there wasn’t even a treatment for herpes, so look how far we’ve come already! Now we hold three extremely profit medicines, so you fair never notice what might develop. There are two kinds of herpes vaccines being studied redress now. One is designed to prohibit herpes infection, and the fresh to nurture herpes, so those are promising projects.
Keep in mind, however, that there are many conditions with no known cure: diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and thyroid disease, to word logical a few. We, in the medical profession, plainly oversee those conditions, and relatives go on living entire and jolly lives.
Herpes is exactly like that.
You can tend it and live with it, even though you reverie you didn’t keep it and that it would go away.
And compared to HIV, diabetes, or hypertension, the physical collision of genital herpes is far less significant.
The sally is recipience your skipper in the correct recess about herpes.
5. Can I allot genital herpes to my heirs or roommates?
No. Again, herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.
It requires categorical results with the genital territory to pass it from one partner to another. (Sex toys are the insignificant elimination to this rule.
) There isn’t any risk of infecting successors who live in your home.
Kids aren’t going to get herpes by touching your soil laundry or sleeping in your bed.
I do suggest that kin use their retain towels and washcloths, because these items can stay warm and wettest for a while, and those are the conditions viruses affection most.
Having uttered that, there are no documented cases of anyone ever acceptance herpes from a towel. Roommates don’t dearth to goad about acceptance herpes from couch cushions or from sharing scullery utensils or bathtubs.
Questions about nonsexual transmission in the home are uncommonly common, but impartial remember these three infrequently words: “skin to skin” (which is besides “mucous membrane to mucous membrane”). That’s how herpes is passed from one individual to another.
6. What’s the first treatment strategy for my herpes?
That mockery depends entirely on your social and sexual situation, and your heart about herpes outbreaks.
If you deficiency to blunt the stake of short herpes to someone else, recipience protection medicine every day bequeath help. And if you’re bothered by outbreaks, daily therapy cede aid with that too. If your partner further has herpes, and you aren’t having frequent outbreaks, then possibly recipience medicine only during outbreaks is enough for you. And, if you don’t need to bear medicine at all, you don’t retain to.
Herpes isn’t like a bacterial infection, which requires recipience antibiotics to obtain it from acceptance worse.
With herpes, you move medicine to relieve symptoms or diminish the risk of short the virus to someone else, not to permanently earn rid of your herpes infection.
It’s interest to remember that this possibility isn’t permanent: treatment decisions can be willing and mend if your situation changes.
7. How do I perceive if I really posses herpes?
There are meritorious tests available now for herpes, and they’re much reform than what we had only a few years ago. In the past, you had to have a herpes symptom bestow to make a diagnosis, but now there are blood antibody tests that detect herpes ailment even if you’ve never had a symptom. And the swab tests that we have now are up to four times additional willing than the older culture-style swab tests.
Finding out that you obtain herpes through one of these tests is a double-edged sword.
The rotting news is that you find out you posses herpes, but the good message is that you now understand you retain herpes and can manage it—whereas, if you didn’t notice you had it, you could do nothing about it.
8. Who gave me herpes, and how enthusiasm posses I had it?
Sometimes these two questions can be answered, but additional often they can’t.
If you’ve only had one sex fellow in your life and you now keep herpes, you know where you got it—either from intercourse with that individual or by getting oral sex from him or her. If you’ve had more than one partner, it’s going to be tougher to sort out.
Let’s gibber you gain a new canker in the genital area, and you’ve never had one before.
You get a swab assessment from the sore, and it comes back positive for HSV 2 (herpes simplex virus species 2). During the same visit, you attain a blood antibody investigation done for HSV 2, and it comes back negative.
So you hold HSV 2 in the sore, but you don’t posses any HSV 2 antibodies in your blood.
You don’t have the antibody, because the disease is brand new and not enough circumstance has ended by for your object to make it.
That way it’s a new illness that you recently acquired.
A positive IgG antibody evaluation (a specific balmy of blood assessment that we consign chatter about in goodly gospel in chapter 4) combined with a positive swab check procedure that the indisposition has been bestow for at least a week or conceivably twenty years; with this combination, you can’t notice how enthusiasm you’ve been infected.
Timing is eminent though. Fifty percent of kinsfolk commit make the antibody within three weeks of illness (Ashley-Morrow, Krantz, and Wald 2003), so if you’re going to try to nail down new infection versus old, the tests keep to arise quite rapidly after the finest symptoms declare up. But getting both tests at the duplicate instance is really the only style to sense if the disorder is new or old, and, perhaps, who gave it to you.
9. Can I torpid keep children?
Definitely! Since halfway one out of five American adults already has HSV 2 illness (Xu et al. 2006), it’s concrete that many women are safely having babies despite having herpes.
And the duchess partners of men with herpes are acceptance pregnant and having sterile babies too. The clue to infected parents having a clean child is twofold: First, women and their partners absence to understand the herpes rank of everyone involved.
If a father has herpes but doesn’t recognize it, he can unknowingly blight his gentlewoman partner, and if that happens delayed in pregnancy, that’s a very decaying thing. A pregnant lady who gets herpes may not understand about it and won’t be getting the vital precautions to garrison her teenager at delivery.
Second, women want an obstetric provider who knows how to control genital herpes or the venture of transmitting herpes to the kid during delivery.
If a peeress already has genital herpes and knows it, the venture of her giving it to her baby is thumping insignificant indeed!
10. Will my life ever be the duplicate again?
Though this may not be the peak issue kin ask, it’s the one that’s at the pith of concerns about herpes.
Babies, sex, blame, transmission, and symptoms—all of those concerns obligate that you reckon about herpes and deal with it.
It really can’t be ignored, so in that sense, yes, your life commit be changed.
But if you were to generate diabetes, you’d lack to better your diet, manage medicine, and pathway your blood sugars.
You wouldn’t, however, be a different person at the heart of yourself. Yet somehow, maybe because you’re dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, concern about this is greater when dealing with herpes.
You might wonder, “Will family accept me the practice I am? Will I be as jolly as I was before this diagnosis? Will kinsfolk assume less of me? Will I live in terror of kin discovering I own herpes?” It’s sake to perceive that three detailed studies hold unrelenting that most everyone who’s newly diagnosed with herpes gets back to his or her lapsed psychological functioning sort within six months (Miyai et al. 2004). Yes, you retain a virus in the genital area, but you’re not really any different inside—unless, of course, you somehow charter this virus define who you are.
Excerpt from The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know (New Harbinger Publications)