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So many questions, can’t find the answers….


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Hi, my name is Kristy, I’m 57. My new boyfriend has herpes. Yes, I’m beyond freaked out, but love him and I need HONEST answers from real people who have this and what I can expect. I think the easiest way is to “bullet” my questions. Here goes…

1. I have oral hsv1, (cold sores).  can I get hsv2, or does having hsv1  give me an immunity to it/ a bit more immunity to it at all?

Assuming I can still contract hsv2, here are my next questions…

2. My boyfriend lives far away and we see each other about once every 6 weeks. If I take Valtrex about 2 weeks before he comes to see me and he takes it all the time, and we both continue to take it while he’s here and we’re intimate, will it help with me not catching it? Or does it only help the person who actually has hsv2? I know it helps him, but I don’t know if it’s helping me to not catch it.

3. If my boyfriend doesn’t have a breakout and has no signs or symptoms of having a breakout, no pre signs of shedding, itching, etc, AND is taking Valtrex, what are the chances he can still give it to me? (Again, we would both be on Valtrex).
4. We are monogamous with each other and I’d really like to have unprotected sex with him, because condoms really bother my skin, (latex/silicone) and I get a terrible rash from both, so I’d really like to know what the chances are of contracting hsv2 with zero signs or symptoms from my partner. I really need to hear everyone’s experience with this please.  The condoms/rashes are killing me.
5. Does using a good lubricant help deter the transmission of it also? (Can a good lubricant coat the penis/scrotum and give it a barrier of protection? 
6.  If my boyfriend doesn’t have a breakout, no signs or symptoms of shedding, and is taking Valtrex, what are the chances I could get hsv2 by giving him a blowjob? (No vaginal intercourse or kissing, etc). As noted above, I already have oral hsv1.   I am really confused with this one…can I get hsv2 in my mouth that will spread through my body and later show up as hsv2 in my genitals??

Thanks for listening.  I’m really confused.

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Hi Kristy, great questions and thank you for being brave and giving love a chance.
I am in a very parallel situation, also in an LDR and my girlfriend is hsv -.

I'll try and answer your questions as best as I can from my own experience. I'm not a doctor so this is all just my understanding. Hopefully others can confirm etc.

 

1. HSV1 will not protect you from getting HSV2 but I have read that it will have an affect on actual symptoms which will be less severe.

2. I don't think you taking antivirals will help protect you but if he takes antivirals (I think from 10 days before you are together) it will reduce transmission by 50%. So if he takes it, it will protect you to a degree.

3. This is my situation. Shedding occurs 10% of the time. But this reduces over time since infection*.
As a baseline 10% [shedding] and 50% reduction [antivirals] means there is only a 5% chance of him being able to transmit to you.

4. Again, I've been there. We used condoms when we were first together but my partner decided she was "all in" and we stopped using condoms. I think you have to be aware there is always a risk, just like when you cross the road.

I was with my partner recently for 3 months and never transmitted. And I use antivirals.

If you are worried, the two best things to protect yourself are good communication (talk and be honest with each other so avoid sex if there's an outbreak) and condoms (96% protection male to female)
Condom use would bring you statistical chance of infection down to 0.4% if my maths is right. I think so.

5. I don't think so. But I'd be hapy to find one that did do this. Soap kills hsv on surfaces so maybe washing with soap before and after would help but I don't think there is good evidence of this. And you also have to consider what a mood killer it is. But you could maybe do this at the beginning if it helps ease some anxiety.

6. Hsv2 does not like the mouth. It is very rare but it is possible. The fact that you have hsv1 there makes it less likely also (HSV1 doesn't stop you getting hsv2 but makes it harder to take hold in the same area. Can someone confirm?).
Also, if you did get hsv2 in your mouth it would be less severe because hsv2 doesn't like the mouth. But it would not spread to your genitals after that so would offer some protection in that way. One caveat is do not touch open sores and then touch other areas. I think you have to be careful with this for the first month or so and then it's not an issue within your own body (again, can someone else confirm?)

 

I think right now you are doing everything right, approaching it in a very level headed way and looking for good information.


I wish you all the best with your new relationship. As someone in a similar situation, who never wanted an LDR and my partner obviously never wanted hsv, we both found that finding that real deep soul connection if very rare, as you'll no doubt know if you've to 57 (I'm 52) and is worth fighting for and taking risks for.
Like I said I'm just back from 3 months with my SO and we had unprotected sex, used anti virals and I don't have outbreaks (with a very old infection although I can't be 100% sure).

There are no guarantees but I'll finish with this. If you do end up getting hsv2, you are still the exact same person you are now, with all your qualities, talents, personality and everything that makes you special and made this man fall in love with you, and makes your friends love you too. You're a special, wonderful, and unique human being and that won't change.
 

I hope this helps 🙂

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Hi DeMar, thank you so much for responding back.  If I may, can I ask a few more questions?

1. So, you have hsv2, and your girlfriend has NOT contracted it so far, and you’ve been intimate without condoms for 3 months. Do I have that right?  (And you use antivirals).  

2. My boyfriend rarely has a breakout and can feel one coming on if it happens…so if he doesn’t have any signs or symptoms and is taking antivirals, what are the chances of me catching it if we have unprotected sex?  (Still confused with this and the whole % thing of contracting it).

3. I’m still confused with the oral sex part…so from what you’re saying, I could potentially get hsv2 orally, even though I already have hsv1 orally, am I reading that correctly?  What would be the difference? (Symptoms) How does anyone know the difference between hsv1 oral and hsv2 oral? 

Thanks for your time, it’s very much appreciated.

kristy

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Hi, Kristy! 

I hope you are well. You have asked such amazing questions, thank you for bringing up such essential topics!

To answer your two questions above...

2. My boyfriend rarely has a breakout and can feel one coming on if it happens…so if he doesn’t have any signs or symptoms and is taking antivirals, what are the chances of me catching it if we have unprotected sex?  (Still confused with this and the whole % thing of contracting it).

The chances of you catching HSV-2 if he is taking antivirals and he does not have symptoms is 5%. The chance of transmission from H+ males to H- females with the use of condoms OR medication is 5%. The risk with unprotected sex (no medicine or no condom) is 10%. The risk with condoms AND medicine is 2.5%. Basically, with each protective measure he takes, transmission typically is reduced by half 🙂

3. I’m still confused with the oral sex part…so from what you’re saying, I could potentially get hsv2 orally, even though I already have hsv1 orally, am I reading that correctly?  What would be the difference? (Symptoms) How does anyone know the difference between hsv1 oral and hsv2 oral? 

Great question! Yes, you can still contract oral HSV-2 despite having oral HSV-1. Interestingly enough, studies have found that people who contract a second strain of H after already having a strain typically will not have intense primary outbreak symptoms (perhaps because the body already has antibodies for a similar strain of the same virus family). Although you can't tell HSV-1 from HSV-2 just by looking at the sores, you can see the type of HSV it is by getting a viral culture swab sample or blood test. Basically, you can't tell the two apart just by a basic examination with the eyes. However, it is typically assumed that more intense outbreaks (more blisters, more frequent painful outbreaks, etc) are caused by HSV-2. Basically, you would have to get a sore swabbed/blood test to see for sure! 🙂 

I hope this helps! ❤️

Thank you  @DeMar for your support and guidance on the site! ❤️ 

Blessings to you both! 🙂❤️ 

grace

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Hi Kristy,
In answer to your 2nd questions:

1. So, you have hsv2, and your girlfriend has NOT contracted it so far, and you’ve been intimate without condoms for 3 months. Do I have that right?  (And you use antivirals).  

Yes 🙂

 

2. My boyfriend rarely has a breakout and can feel one coming on if it happens…so if he doesn’t have any signs or symptoms and is taking antivirals, what are the chances of me catching it if we have unprotected sex?  (Still confused with this and the whole % thing of contracting it).

 


The way I understand the % risk is that it is a "per day" risk. The general assumption is that asymptomatic people shed on approximately 10% of days, so 36.5 days a year.
If your partner is not shedding (90% of days, or 328.5 days a year) then on those days there is 0 chance of transmission. (Unfortunately you can't predict which days those are).
On a day when he is shedding, the addition of antivirals and condoms reduces that risk to 2% (100% - 96%* (condoms) = 4%. 4 - 2 (antivirals protect by 50%, and 50%=1 half) = 2%
So, in terms of annual averages, if he is only shedding 10% of days (or 1 tenth) , then that 2% risk goes down to 0.2% (1 tenth of 2% = 0.2%).
Other factors that are harder to quantify are your own and his own immune system strength, your general health, how long since his initial infection.

* and just a note to point out that I disagree with Grace here as to the level of protection offered by condom use. From what I've read I understand it to be 96% protection (male to female) not 50%. This is what Terri Warren says and I have read it in several places. I'm hoping I'm right but Grace, where did you hear 50%?

And @Flowerteacher55 Even though I disagree on this point, it's the first time 🙂 and your knowledge and support on this site has been fantastic since I joined and you have been a great help to me personally. So thank YOU Grace!!!

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