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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 landlord is superior 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 letter board.
And if your query isn’t in here, I gamble you’ll find it farther along in the book.
1. How did I secure genital herpes?
Herpes is passed from one man to another through sexual contact.
You attain it from someone who has herpes through intercourse, recipience uttered or anal sex, or genital to genital rubbing. You don’t attain it from touching doorknobs or sharing miserable jeans or washroom seats—unless, of course, you’re having sex on a wc seat, but that’s for a entire different book.
A closely related, often-asked interrogation is, “Could I posses gotten herpes through a sexual encounter that didn’t involve intercourse?” Lap dancing, vocal sex, genital rubbing, and reciprocal masturbation are all alive and well, and eventuate with vast frequency.
Sometimes these activities arise with kin who aren’t typical partners or spouses, and that can originate concerns about the wager of taking an STI (sexually transmitted infection). First, sublet me assure you with entire certainty that you can’t procure genital herpes while you posses your dress on and someone is “dancing” on your lap. It doesn’t even matter if there’s moisture present.
The virus doesn’t somehow “wick” through structure and taint the genitals.
When the costume come off, however, and genitals are rubbing directly together, there is a befall of receiving herpes.
And the genuine venture of acceptance genital herpes during a single sexual encounter is extraordinary low, but it’s not zero. Receiving uttered sex further presents some wager too, but now the bet changes to one of being infected with the cold-sore virus, herpes simplex virus species 1 (HSV 1), in the genital area. HSV 1 (very often, said herpes) can be transmitted from the aperture of one partner to the genitals of a sex comrade through oral sex, even if the giver doesn’t have an active cold sore.
And finally, what about when one individual masturbates another? This is truly inoffensive 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 pledge for transmission.
“Okay,” you say, “but what if the man touches his or her genitals and then touches mine?” Again, the wager is so low; don’t spend any point and gusto even worrying about it.
2. Now that I own herpes, can I ever own sex again?
Yes, you definitely can, but I’m not going to misguide you by maxim that sex consign be the same as it was before.
There’s a hazard of giving herpes to an uninfected partner, and you absence to treaty head-on with that issue.
First, you should caution all future partners about your herpes before you have sex so that they can make educated decisions about their gamble of acceptance infected.
It may be hard to acquaint your partner, but you’ll sense in your centre that it’s the right article to do. If your companion doesn’t own herpes (and he or she would absence a blood evaluation to know for sure), he or she bequeath be vulnerable to acceptance herpes from you. Daily herpes medication and condoms greatly blunt the venture of transmission, but neither offers entirely absolute prevention—not even when used together. If your person already has the corresponding genus of herpes you do, then you can retain sex impartial as you did before you had herpes
3. Will genital herpes decrease my life?
That one’s easy— fairly not! In years past, there was concern that herpes might be linked to cervical cancer, but we notice now that human papillomavirus (HPV), not herpes, causes cervical cancer. I know—it’s attainable to earn all those viruses that begin with H diverse up.
4. Can herpes be cured?
Right now, there’s no proclaimed 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 thumping good medicines, so you fair never know what might develop. There are two kinds of herpes vaccines being studied redress now. One is designed to dissuade herpes infection, and the fresh to promote 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 equitable a few. We, in the medical profession, neatly operate those conditions, and kin go on living complete and jocular lives.
Herpes is exactly like that.
You can treat it and live with it, even though you wish you didn’t hold it and that it would go away.
And compared to HIV, diabetes, or hypertension, the physical impact of genital herpes is far less significant.
The trick is receipt your probe in the right niche about herpes.
5. Can I consign genital herpes to my issue or roommates?
No. Again, herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.
It requires categorical impression with the genital area to defile it from one friend to another. (Sex toys are the derisory expunction to this rule.
) There isn’t any risk of infecting issue who live in your home.
Kids aren’t going to achieve herpes by touching your stain laundry or sleeping in your bed.
I do suggest that people use their hold towels and washcloths, because these items can stay warm and dank for a while, and those are the conditions viruses heart most.
Having spoken that, there are no documented cases of anyone ever taking herpes from a towel. Roommates don’t want to badger about acceptance herpes from couch cushions or from sharing galley instruments 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 comrade to another.
6. What’s the prime treatment strategy for my herpes?
That decision depends quite on your social and sexual situation, and your love about herpes outbreaks.
If you dearth to weaken the pledge of momentary herpes to someone else, obtaining protection medicine every day will help. And if you’re bothered by outbreaks, daily therapy consign help with that too. If your partner besides has herpes, and you aren’t having frequent outbreaks, then maybe getting medicine only during outbreaks is enough for you. And, if you don’t dearth to carry medicine at all, you don’t hold to.
Herpes isn’t like a bacterial infection, which requires receiving antibiotics to have it from getting worse.
With herpes, you transact medicine to relieve symptoms or weaken the gamble of fleeting the virus to someone else, not to permanently gain rid of your herpes infection.
It’s advantage to remember that this choice isn’t permanent: treatment decisions can be receptive and amend if your instance changes.
7. How do I perceive if I really posses herpes?
There are deserving 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 own a herpes symptom bestow to make a diagnosis, but now there are blood antibody tests that detect herpes infection even if you’ve never had a symptom. And the swab tests that we obtain now are up to four times further flexible than the older culture-style swab tests.
Finding out that you obtain herpes through one of these tests is a double-edged sword.
The fusty information is that you find out you own herpes, but the gain report is that you now understand you keep herpes and can dispense it—whereas, if you didn’t sense you had it, you could do nothing about it.
8. Who gave me herpes, and how crave own I had it?
Sometimes these two questions can be answered, but further often they can’t.
If you’ve only had one sex man in your life and you now posses herpes, you notice where you got it—either from intercourse with that partner or by recipience verbal sex from him or her. If you’ve had other than one partner, it’s going to be tougher to superiority out.
Let’s natter you procure a new abrasion in the genital area, and you’ve never had one before.
You procure a swab evaluation from the sore, and it comes back positive for HSV 2 (herpes simplex virus sort 2). During the twin visit, you secure a blood antibody check done for HSV 2, and it comes back negative.
So you have HSV 2 in the sore, but you don’t own any HSV 2 antibodies in your blood.
You don’t have the antibody, because the ailment is brand new and not enough juncture has elapsed by for your object to make it.
That procedure it’s a new disorder that you recently acquired.
A positive IgG antibody inspection (a specific friendly of blood appraisal that we bequeath gossip about in large reality in chapter 4) combined with a positive swab examination means that the sickness has been apportion for at least a week or perhaps twenty years; with this combination, you can’t comprehend how long you’ve been infected.
Timing is great though. Fifty percent of kin will make the antibody within three weeks of disease (Ashley-Morrow, Krantz, and Wald 2003), so if you’re going to try to nail down new illness versus old, the tests keep to follow entirely hastily after the finest symptoms manifest up. But getting both tests at the duplicate time is really the only system to sense if the illness is new or old, and, perhaps, who gave it to you.
9. Can I torpid retain children?
Definitely! Since midpoint one out of five American adults already has HSV 2 malady (Xu et al. 2006), it’s solid that many women are safely having babies despite having herpes.
And the duchess partners of men with herpes are obtaining pregnant and having aseptic babies too. The explanation to infected parents having a clean baby is twofold: First, women and their partners deprivation to perceive the herpes rank of everyone involved.
If a father has herpes but doesn’t understand it, he can unknowingly infect his countess partner, and if that happens dilatory in pregnancy, that’s a very spoiled thing. A pregnant female who gets herpes may not notice about it and won’t be taking the necessary precautions to guard her child at delivery.
Second, women need an obstetric provider who knows how to control genital herpes or the hazard of transmitting herpes to the young during delivery.
If a countess already has genital herpes and knows it, the risk of her giving it to her teenager is remarkably small indeed!
10. Will my life ever be the alike again?
Though this may not be the blessing issue kin ask, it’s the one that’s at the marrow of concerns about herpes.
Babies, sex, blame, transmission, and symptoms—all of those concerns obligate that you believe about herpes and deal with it.
It really can’t be ignored, so in that sense, yes, your life will be changed.
But if you were to prosper diabetes, you’d dearth to change your diet, take medicine, and path your blood sugars.
You wouldn’t, however, be a different comrade at the core 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 kin believe me the style I am? Will I be as happy as I was before this diagnosis? Will kinsfolk believe less of me? Will I live in hysteria of family discovering I have herpes?” It’s behalf to perceive that three detailed studies have adamant that most everyone who’s newly diagnosed with herpes gets back to his or her invalid psychological operative excellence within six months (Miyai et al. 2004). Yes, you have a virus in the genital area, but you’re not really any different inside—unless, of course, you somehow rent this virus define who you are.
Excerpt from The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know (New Harbinger Publications)