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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 innkeeper is revered for his top-ten lists.
I hope he won’t mind, but I’m going to borrow his idea. Here’s my top-ten guide of questions asked most often about genital herpes.
They come from patients at my clinic and from the WebMD message board.
And if your matter isn’t in here, I risk you’ll find it farther along in the book.
1. How did I earn genital herpes?
Herpes is passed from one friend to another through sexual contact.
You attain it from someone who has herpes through intercourse, receiving verbal or anal sex, or genital to genital rubbing. You don’t secure it from touching doorknobs or sharing sad jeans or wc seats—unless, of course, you’re having sex on a lavatory seat, but that’s for a flawless different book.
A closely related, often-asked issue is, “Could I own gotten herpes through a sexual encounter that didn’t involve intercourse?” Lap dancing, verbal sex, genital rubbing, and common masturbation are all alive and well, and transpire with mammoth frequency.
Sometimes these activities happen with family who aren’t normal partners or spouses, and that can cause concerns about the wager of recipience an STI (sexually transmitted infection). First, lease me assure you with entire certainty that you can’t attain genital herpes while you retain your clothes on and someone is “dancing” on your lap. It doesn’t even question if there’s moisture present.
The virus doesn’t somehow “wick” through cloth and contaminate the genitals.
When the garments come off, however, and genitals are rubbing directly together, there is a happen of acceptance herpes.
And the veritable venture of obtaining genital herpes during a single sexual encounter is extremely low, but it’s not zero. Receiving oral sex besides presents some venture too, but now the wager 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 jaws of one comrade to the genitals of a sex fellow through oral sex, even if the giver doesn’t obtain an active cold sore.
And finally, what about when one fellow 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 irregular it’s not worth even
considering, masturbation presents no stake for transmission.
“Okay,” you say, “but what if the man touches his or her genitals and then touches mine?” Again, the risk is so low; don’t spend any time and zest even worrying about it.
2. Now that I retain herpes, can I ever posses sex again?
Yes, you definitely can, but I’m not going to misguide you by aphorism that sex leave be the equivalent as it was before.
There’s a wager of giving herpes to an uninfected partner, and you absence to deal head-on with that issue.
First, you should warn all future partners about your herpes before you keep sex so that they can make educated decisions about their venture of acceptance infected.
It may be heavy to notify your partner, but you’ll perceive in your spirit that it’s the right object to do. If your comrade doesn’t retain herpes (and he or she would scarcity a blood investigation to understand for sure), he or she cede be vulnerable to receiving herpes from you. Daily herpes medication and condoms greatly reduce the venture of transmission, but neither offers entirely flawless prevention—not even when used together. If your friend already has the equivalent sort of herpes you do, then you can have sex equitable as you did before you had herpes
3. Will genital herpes decrease my life?
That one’s easy— quite not! In years past, there was concern that herpes might be linked to cervical cancer, but we sense now that human papillomavirus (HPV), not herpes, causes cervical cancer. I know—it’s viable to procure all those viruses that begin with H diverse up.
4. Can herpes be cured?
Right now, there’s no recognized remedy for herpes.
But in 1981 there wasn’t even a treatment for herpes, so look how far we’ve come already! Now we retain three remarkably gain medicines, so you impartial never understand what might develop. There are two kinds of herpes vaccines being studied remedy now. One is designed to dissuade herpes infection, and the additional to tend herpes, so those are promising projects.
Keep in mind, however, that there are many conditions with no avowed cure: diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and thyroid disease, to name logical a few. We, in the medical profession, smartly administer those conditions, and connections go on living finished and jocular lives.
Herpes is exactly like that.
You can cherish it and live with it, even though you reverie you didn’t retain it and that it would go away.
And compared to HIV, diabetes, or hypertension, the physical contact of genital herpes is far less significant.
The jest is obtaining your probe in the redress place about herpes.
5. Can I present genital herpes to my descendants or roommates?
No. Again, herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.
It requires unconditional impact with the genital state to gulf it from one friend to another. (Sex toys are the meagre expunction to this rule.
) There isn’t any stake of infecting progeny who live in your home.
Kids aren’t going to get herpes by touching your dirty laundry or sleeping in your bed.
I do suggest that kin use their retain towels and washcloths, because these items can stay warm and clammy for a while, and those are the conditions viruses emotions most.
Having oral that, there are no documented cases of anyone ever acceptance herpes from a towel. Roommates don’t deprivation to pest about receiving herpes from couch cushions or from sharing galley kit or bathtubs.
Questions about nonsexual transmission in the home are extraordinary common, but reasonable remember these three seldom words: “skin to skin” (which is furthermore “mucous membrane to mucous membrane”). That’s how herpes is passed from one partner to another.
6. What’s the top treatment strategy for my herpes?
That decision depends entirely on your social and sexual situation, and your love about herpes outbreaks.
If you lack to weaken the risk of transitory herpes to someone else, acceptance surety medicine every day commit help. And if you’re bothered by outbreaks, daily therapy leave backing with that too. If your comrade further has herpes, and you aren’t having frequent outbreaks, then perhaps taking medicine only during outbreaks is enough for you. And, if you don’t scarcity to move medicine at all, you don’t hold to.
Herpes isn’t like a bacterial infection, which requires recipience antibiotics to obtain it from obtaining worse.
With herpes, you bring medicine to relieve symptoms or lessen the bet of momentary the virus to someone else, not to permanently earn rid of your herpes infection.
It’s good to remember that this preference isn’t permanent: treatment decisions can be willing and amend if your point changes.
7. How do I notice if I really keep herpes?
There are creditable tests available now for herpes, and they’re much ameliorate than what we had only a few years ago. In the past, you had to hold a herpes symptom give to make a diagnosis, but now there are blood antibody tests that detect herpes disease even if you’ve never had a symptom. And the swab tests that we have now are up to four times further perceptive than the older culture-style swab tests.
Finding out that you retain herpes through one of these tests is a double-edged sword.
The blighted news is that you find out you own herpes, but the sake message is that you now recognize you own herpes and can control it—whereas, if you didn’t notice you had it, you could do naught about it.
8. Who gave me herpes, and how want posses I had it?
Sometimes these two questions can be answered, but more often they can’t.
If you’ve only had one sex companion in your life and you now posses herpes, you know where you got it—either from intercourse with that man or by receipt said sex from him or her. If you’ve had additional than one partner, it’s going to be tougher to superiority out.
Let’s gossip you achieve a new gall in the genital area, and you’ve never had one before.
You procure a swab appraisal from the sore, and it comes back positive for HSV 2 (herpes simplex virus genre 2). During the same visit, you obtain a blood antibody check done for HSV 2, and it comes back negative.
So you hold HSV 2 in the sore, but you don’t have any HSV 2 antibodies in your blood.
You don’t have the antibody, because the indisposition is brand new and not enough case has foregone by for your article to make it.
That way it’s a new disease that you recently acquired.
A positive IgG antibody inspection (a specific cordial of blood check that we consign talk about in goodly truth in chapter 4) combined with a positive swab assessment manner that the malady has been grant for at least a week or perhaps twenty years; with this combination, you can’t know how desire you’ve been infected.
Timing is famous though. Fifty percent of family cede make the antibody within three weeks of indisposition (Ashley-Morrow, Krantz, and Wald 2003), so if you’re going to try to nail down new disease versus old, the tests keep to transpire totally hastily after the peak symptoms exhibit up. But receipt both tests at the equivalent circumstance is really the only manner to notice if the malady is new or old, and, perhaps, who gave it to you.
9. Can I stagnant posses children?
Definitely! Since nearly one out of five American adults already has HSV 2 sickness (Xu et al. 2006), it’s apparent that many women are safely having babies despite having herpes.
And the duchess partners of men with herpes are receipt pregnant and having sterile babies too. The clue to infected parents having a sanitary infant is twofold: First, women and their partners need to perceive the herpes level of everyone involved.
If a father has herpes but doesn’t notice it, he can unknowingly pollute his peeress partner, and if that happens tardy in pregnancy, that’s a extremely mildewed thing. A pregnant countess who gets herpes may not understand about it and won’t be recipience the imperative precautions to garrison her adolescent at delivery.
Second, women need an obstetric provider who knows how to control genital herpes or the venture of transmitting herpes to the infant during delivery.
If a female already has genital herpes and knows it, the gamble of her giving it to her baby is remarkably minor indeed!
10. Will my life ever be the same again?
Though this may not be the top problem connections ask, it’s the one that’s at the kernel of concerns about herpes.
Babies, sex, blame, transmission, and symptoms—all of those concerns require that you surmise about herpes and contract with it.
It really can’t be ignored, so in that sense, yes, your life will be changed.
But if you were to establish diabetes, you’d want to ameliorate your diet, carry medicine, and alley your blood sugars.
You wouldn’t, however, be a different person at the pith of yourself. Yet somehow, perhaps because you’re dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, concern about this is greater when dealing with herpes.
You might wonder, “Will relatives conjecture me the style I am? Will I be as jocund as I was before this diagnosis? Will connections surmise less of me? Will I live in hysteria of relatives discovering I own herpes?” It’s profit to perceive that three detailed studies own immovable that most everyone who’s newly diagnosed with herpes gets back to his or her lapsed psychological workable superiority within six months (Miyai et al. 2004). Yes, you obtain a virus in the genital area, but you’re not really any different inside—unless, of course, you somehow hire this virus define who you are.
Excerpt from The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know (New Harbinger Publications)