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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 noted for his top-ten lists.
I hope he won’t mind, but I’m going to borrow his idea. Here’s my top-ten index of questions asked most often about genital herpes.
They come from patients at my clinic and from the WebMD dispatch board.
And if your interrogation isn’t in here, I venture 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 gain it from someone who has herpes through intercourse, obtaining vocal or anal sex, or genital to genital rubbing. You don’t earn it from touching doorknobs or sharing melancholy jeans or toilet seats—unless, of course, you’re having sex on a cloakroom seat, but that’s for a whole different book.
A closely related, often-asked dispute is, “Could I own gotten herpes through a sexual encounter that didn’t involve intercourse?” Lap dancing, uttered sex, genital rubbing, and common masturbation are all alive and well, and arise with goodly frequency.
Sometimes these activities befall with people who aren’t natural partners or spouses, and that can cause concerns about the bet of recipience an STI (sexually transmitted infection). First, agreement me assure you with whole certainty that you can’t procure genital herpes while you obtain 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 taint the genitals.
When the clothes come off, however, and genitals are rubbing directly together, there is a ensue of acceptance herpes.
And the actual stake of taking genital herpes during a single sexual encounter is very low, but it’s not zero. Receiving uttered sex further presents some risk too, but now the bet changes to one of being infected with the cold-sore virus, herpes simplex virus sort 1 (HSV 1), in the genital area. HSV 1 (very often, uttered herpes) can be transmitted from the orifice of one friend to the genitals of a sex friend through verbal sex, even if the giver doesn’t retain an active cold sore.
And finally, what about when one friend masturbates another? This is truly innoxious sex as far as herpes is concerned.
Unless someone has a herpes lesion on his or her hand, which is so sporadic it’s not worth even
considering, masturbation presents no wager for transmission.
“Okay,” you say, “but what if the friend touches his or her genitals and then touches mine?” Again, the gamble is so low; don’t spend any juncture and energy even worrying about it.
2. Now that I posses herpes, can I ever own sex again?
Yes, you definitely can, but I’m not going to misguide you by saying that sex entrust be the equivalent as it was before.
There’s a wager of giving herpes to an uninfected partner, and you absence to treaty head-on with that issue.
First, you should alert all future partners about your herpes before you have sex so that they can make educated decisions about their pledge of receipt infected.
It may be fatiguing to caution your partner, but you’ll recognize in your pith that it’s the amend body to do. If your person doesn’t obtain herpes (and he or she would dearth a blood assessment to notice for sure), he or she bequeath be vulnerable to recipience herpes from you. Daily herpes medication and condoms greatly blunt the stake of transmission, but neither offers entirely complete prevention—not even when used together. If your man already has the equivalent genre of herpes you do, then you can obtain sex reasonable as you did before you had herpes
3. Will genital herpes diminish my life?
That one’s easy— entirely not! In years past, there was concern that herpes might be linked to cervical cancer, but we comprehend now that human papillomavirus (HPV), not herpes, causes cervical cancer. I know—it’s possible to obtain all those viruses that begin with H various up.
4. Can herpes be cured?
Right now, there’s no proclaimed regenerate for herpes.
But in 1981 there wasn’t even a treatment for herpes, so look how far we’ve come already! Now we own three thumping gain medicines, so you impartial never comprehend what might develop. There are two kinds of herpes vaccines being studied improve now. One is designed to prohibit herpes infection, and the other to tend herpes, so those are promising projects.
Keep in mind, however, that there are many conditions with no declared cure: diabetes, hypertension, HIV, and thyroid disease, to term logical a few. We, in the medical profession, plainly administer those conditions, and kin go on living full and mirthful lives.
Herpes is exactly like that.
You can tend it and live with it, even though you dream you didn’t have 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 trick is acceptance your probe in the right nook about herpes.
5. Can I allot genital herpes to my descendants or roommates?
No. Again, herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.
It requires direct collision with the genital domain to ravine it from one comrade to another. (Sex toys are the minor elimination to this rule.
) There isn’t any gamble of infecting young who live in your home.
Kids aren’t going to obtain herpes by touching your soil laundry or sleeping in your bed.
I do suggest that kin use their have towels and washcloths, because these items can stay warm and humid for a while, and those are the conditions viruses love most.
Having uttered that, there are no documented cases of anyone ever acceptance herpes from a towel. Roommates don’t deprivation to pest about obtaining herpes from couch cushions or from sharing scullery utensils or bathtubs.
Questions about nonsexual transmission in the home are uncommonly common, but just remember these three rarely words: “skin to skin” (which is also “mucous membrane to mucous membrane”). That’s how herpes is passed from one individual to another.
6. What’s the top treatment strategy for my herpes?
That decision depends wholly on your social and sexual situation, and your affection about herpes outbreaks.
If you dearth to lessen the venture of passing herpes to someone else, receiving precaution medicine every day bequeath help. And if you’re bothered by outbreaks, daily therapy leave aegis with that too. If your companion also has herpes, and you aren’t having frequent outbreaks, then perhaps recipience medicine only during outbreaks is enough for you. And, if you don’t scarcity to bear medicine at all, you don’t own to.
Herpes isn’t like a bacterial infection, which requires getting antibiotics to have it from acceptance worse.
With herpes, you take medicine to relieve symptoms or blunt the wager of momentary the virus to someone else, not to permanently achieve rid of your herpes infection.
It’s profit to remember that this option isn’t permanent: treatment decisions can be bright and reform if your time changes.
7. How do I know if I really hold herpes?
There are meritorious tests available now for herpes, and they’re much change than what we had only a few years ago. In the past, you had to posses a herpes symptom consign to make a diagnosis, but now there are blood antibody tests that detect herpes illness even if you’ve never had a symptom. And the swab tests that we retain now are up to four times further willing than the older culture-style swab tests.
Finding out that you have herpes through one of these tests is a double-edged sword.
The musty report is that you find out you own herpes, but the wellbeing facts is that you now understand you own herpes and can manage it—whereas, if you didn’t perceive you had it, you could do naught about it.
8. Who gave me herpes, and how wanting hold 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 obtain herpes, you recognize where you got it—either from intercourse with that comrade or by receipt spoken sex from him or her. If you’ve had fresh than one partner, it’s going to be tougher to standard out.
Let’s gibber you get a new abrasion in the genital area, and you’ve never had one before.
You secure a swab investigation from the sore, and it comes back positive for HSV 2 (herpes simplex virus genre 2). During the same visit, you gain a blood antibody evaluation done for HSV 2, and it comes back negative.
So you keep HSV 2 in the sore, but you don’t obtain any HSV 2 antibodies in your blood.
You don’t retain the antibody, because the sickness is brand new and not enough instance has former by for your item to make it.
That fashion it’s a new disease that you recently acquired.
A positive IgG antibody investigation (a specific cordial of blood examination that we cede gossip about in big gospel in chapter 4) combined with a positive swab evaluation system that the sickness has been grant for at least a week or maybe twenty years; with this combination, you can’t comprehend how wanting you’ve been infected.
Timing is revered though. Fifty percent of family leave make the antibody within three weeks of disorder (Ashley-Morrow, Krantz, and Wald 2003), so if you’re going to try to nail down new infection versus old, the tests hold to befall quite briskly after the elite symptoms display up. But acceptance both tests at the duplicate case is really the only means to perceive if the infection is new or old, and, perhaps, who gave it to you.
9. Can I quiescent hold children?
Definitely! Since nearly one out of five American adults already has HSV 2 disorder (Xu et al. 2006), it’s concrete that many women are safely having babies despite having herpes.
And the lady partners of men with herpes are receipt pregnant and having antiseptic babies too. The solution to infected parents having a antiseptic kid is twofold: First, women and their partners deprivation to perceive the herpes station of everyone involved.
If a father has herpes but doesn’t sense it, he can unknowingly contaminate his peeress partner, and if that happens dilatory in pregnancy, that’s a remarkably bad thing. A pregnant countess who gets herpes may not understand about it and won’t be taking the necessary precautions to fortify her adolescent at delivery.
Second, women absence an obstetric provider who knows how to administer genital herpes or the bet of transmitting herpes to the youngster during delivery.
If a peeress already has genital herpes and knows it, the stake of her giving it to her teenager is extremely meagre indeed!
10. Will my life ever be the equivalent again?
Though this may not be the prime question folks ask, it’s the one that’s at the kernel of concerns about herpes.
Babies, sex, blame, transmission, and symptoms—all of those concerns obligate that you assume about herpes and contract with it.
It really can’t be ignored, so in that sense, yes, your life entrust be changed.
But if you were to mature diabetes, you’d need to change your diet, transact medicine, and passageway your blood sugars.
You wouldn’t, however, be a different fellow at the nucleus of yourself. Yet somehow, feasibly because you’re dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, concern about this is greater when dealing with herpes.
You might wonder, “Will kin credit me the practice I am? Will I be as jocose as I was before this diagnosis? Will connections suppose less of me? Will I live in alarm of connections discovering I have herpes?” It’s good to recognize that three detailed studies posses determined that most everyone who’s newly diagnosed with herpes gets back to his or her lapsed psychological useable quality within six months (Miyai et al. 2004). Yes, you posses a virus in the genital area, but you’re not really any different inside—unless, of course, you somehow let this virus define who you are.
Excerpt from The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know (New Harbinger Publications)