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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 host is famous for his top-ten lists.
I hope he won’t mind, but I’m going to borrow his idea. Here’s my top-ten brochure of questions asked most often about genital herpes.
They come from patients at my clinic and from the WebMD communication board.
And if your dispute isn’t in here, I stake you’ll find it farther along in the book.
1. How did I achieve genital herpes?
Herpes is passed from one person to another through sexual contact.
You earn it from someone who has herpes through intercourse, receiving oral or anal sex, or genital to genital rubbing. You don’t gain it from touching doorknobs or sharing melancholy jeans or cloakroom seats—unless, of course, you’re having sex on a cloakroom seat, but that’s for a flawless different book.
A closely related, often-asked question is, “Could I have gotten herpes through a sexual encounter that didn’t involve intercourse?” Lap dancing, spoken sex, genital rubbing, and common masturbation are all alive and well, and occur with large frequency.
Sometimes these activities transpire with folks who aren’t standard partners or spouses, and that can create concerns about the gamble of recipience an STI (sexually transmitted infection). First, let me assure you with absolute certainty that you can’t obtain genital herpes while you hold your dress 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 material and tarnish the genitals.
When the clothes come off, however, and genitals are rubbing directly together, there is a materialize of obtaining herpes.
And the authentic wager of getting genital herpes during a single sexual encounter is very low, but it’s not zero. Receiving verbal sex moreover presents some venture too, but now the gamble 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, uttered herpes) can be transmitted from the jaws of one individual to the genitals of a sex partner through oral sex, even if the giver doesn’t hold an active cold sore.
And finally, what about when one fellow masturbates another? This is truly safe sex as far as herpes is concerned.
Unless someone has a herpes lesion on his or her hand, which is so casual it’s not worth even
considering, masturbation presents no venture for transmission.
“Okay,” you say, “but what if the friend touches his or her genitals and then touches mine?” Again, the stake is so low; don’t spend any situation and easgerness even worrying about it.
2. Now that I have herpes, can I ever posses sex again?
Yes, you definitely can, but I’m not going to misguide you by maxim that sex bequeath be the equivalent as it was before.
There’s a hazard of giving herpes to an uninfected partner, and you scarcity to covenant head-on with that issue.
First, you should caution all future partners about your herpes before you obtain sex so that they can make educated decisions about their hazard of obtaining infected.
It may be heavy to inform your partner, but you’ll understand in your kernel that it’s the correct thing to do. If your person doesn’t obtain herpes (and he or she would absence a blood examination to understand for sure), he or she commit be vulnerable to recipience herpes from you. Daily herpes medication and condoms greatly lessen the hazard of transmission, but neither offers absolutely full prevention—not even when used together. If your partner already has the alike species of herpes you do, then you can retain sex impartial as you did before you had herpes
3. Will genital herpes contract my life?
That one’s easy— completely not! In years past, there was concern that herpes might be linked to cervical cancer, but we understand now that human papillomavirus (HPV), not herpes, causes cervical cancer. I know—it’s practicable to secure all those viruses that begin with H various up.
4. Can herpes be cured?
Right now, there’s no declared restore 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 very interest medicines, so you logical never sense what might develop. There are two kinds of herpes vaccines being studied rectify now. One is designed to prohibit herpes infection, and the additional to boost herpes, so those are promising projects.
Keep in mind, however, that there are many conditions with no admitted cure: diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and thyroid disease, to spell moderate a few. We, in the medical profession, tidily administer those conditions, and kin go on living complete and mirthful lives.
Herpes is exactly like that.
You can cherish it and live with it, even though you vision you didn’t have it and that it would go away.
And compared to HIV, diabetes, or hypertension, the physical influence of genital herpes is far less significant.
The sally is receiving your commander in the right niche about herpes.
5. Can I apportion genital herpes to my children or roommates?
No. Again, herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.
It requires absolute collision with the genital field to abyss it from one fellow to another. (Sex toys are the small erasure to this rule.
) There isn’t any pledge of infecting family who live in your home.
Kids aren’t going to gain herpes by touching your dirty laundry or sleeping in your bed.
I do suggest that connections use their own towels and washcloths, because these items can stay warm and moist for a while, and those are the conditions viruses love most.
Having verbal that, there are no documented cases of anyone ever receiving herpes from a towel. Roommates don’t lack to pest about recipience herpes from couch cushions or from sharing cookhouse equipment or bathtubs.
Questions about nonsexual transmission in the home are very common, but impartial 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 finest treatment strategy for my herpes?
That ridicule depends absolutely on your social and sexual situation, and your heart about herpes outbreaks.
If you dearth to impair the wager of transient herpes to someone else, acceptance surety medicine every day consign help. And if you’re bothered by outbreaks, daily therapy leave assistance with that too. If your friend also has herpes, and you aren’t having frequent outbreaks, then feasibly obtaining medicine only during outbreaks is enough for you. And, if you don’t lack to carry medicine at all, you don’t posses to.
Herpes isn’t like a bacterial infection, which requires recipience antibiotics to posses it from receiving worse.
With herpes, you bring medicine to relieve symptoms or decrease the pledge of passing the virus to someone else, not to permanently get rid of your herpes infection.
It’s benefit to remember that this option isn’t permanent: treatment decisions can be receptive and ameliorate if your situation changes.
7. How do I comprehend if I really own herpes?
There are laudable tests available now for herpes, and they’re much renovate than what we had only a few years ago. In the past, you had to have a herpes symptom consign to make a diagnosis, but now there are blood antibody tests that detect herpes disorder even if you’ve never had a symptom. And the swab tests that we keep now are up to four times more perceptive than the older culture-style swab tests.
Finding out that you hold herpes through one of these tests is a double-edged sword.
The mildewed announcement is that you find out you own herpes, but the advantage facts is that you now notice you hold herpes and can direct it—whereas, if you didn’t notice you had it, you could do nothing about it.
8. Who gave me herpes, and how inclination keep I had it?
Sometimes these two questions can be answered, but supplementary often they can’t.
If you’ve only had one sex individual in your life and you now keep herpes, you perceive where you got it—either from intercourse with that man or by receiving spoken sex from him or her. If you’ve had other than one partner, it’s going to be tougher to grade out.
Let’s chatter you achieve a new sore in the genital area, and you’ve never had one before.
You achieve a swab check from the sore, and it comes back positive for HSV 2 (herpes simplex virus genus 2). During the identical visit, you attain a blood antibody evaluation done for HSV 2, and it comes back negative.
So you have HSV 2 in the sore, but you don’t posses any HSV 2 antibodies in your blood.
You don’t hold the antibody, because the malady is brand new and not enough occasion has gone by for your object to make it.
That way it’s a new ailment that you recently acquired.
A positive IgG antibody appraisal (a specific friendly of blood evaluation that we will speak about in big reality in chapter 4) combined with a positive swab assessment way that the ailment has been grant for at least a week or perhaps twenty years; with this combination, you can’t perceive how want you’ve been infected.
Timing is revered though. Fifty percent of relatives cede make the antibody within three weeks of sickness (Ashley-Morrow, Krantz, and Wald 2003), so if you’re going to try to nail down new indisposition versus old, the tests hold to happen fairly fast after the top symptoms show up. But getting both tests at the same instance is really the only procedure to understand if the indisposition is new or old, and, perhaps, who gave it to you.
9. Can I inactive have children?
Definitely! Since halfway one out of five American adults already has HSV 2 disease (Xu et al. 2006), it’s palpable that many women are safely having babies despite having herpes.
And the gentlewoman partners of men with herpes are acceptance pregnant and having clean babies too. The gloss to infected parents having a healthy child is twofold: First, women and their partners deprivation to notice the herpes class of everyone involved.
If a father has herpes but doesn’t perceive it, he can unknowingly contaminate his peeress partner, and if that happens overdue in pregnancy, that’s a extremely musty thing. A pregnant lady who gets herpes may not know about it and won’t be receipt the requisite precautions to defend her child at delivery.
Second, women absence an obstetric provider who knows how to govern genital herpes or the pledge of transmitting herpes to the kid during delivery.
If a countess already has genital herpes and knows it, the hazard of her giving it to her infant is remarkably small indeed!
10. Will my life ever be the alike again?
Though this may not be the best question kinsfolk ask, it’s the one that’s at the marrow of concerns about herpes.
Babies, sex, blame, transmission, and symptoms—all of those concerns compel that you believe about herpes and covenant with it.
It really can’t be ignored, so in that sense, yes, your life leave be changed.
But if you were to prosper diabetes, you’d lack to ameliorate your diet, carry medicine, and track your blood sugars.
You wouldn’t, however, be a different individual at the gist of yourself. Yet somehow, possibly because you’re dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, concern about this is greater when dealing with herpes.
You might wonder, “Will connections presume me the manner I am? Will I be as mirthful as I was before this diagnosis? Will kinsfolk think less of me? Will I live in alarm of kin discovering I posses herpes?” It’s profit to sense that three detailed studies obtain adamant that most everyone who’s newly diagnosed with herpes gets back to his or her invalid psychological workable merit 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 contract this virus define who you are.
Excerpt from The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know (New Harbinger Publications)