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So many questions...newly diagnosed with genital herpes


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Hi everyone. I am glad I found this site. But I haven't come across any posts that remind me of my situation. Though I'm not surprised I was diagnosed with genital herpes, I just want answers I think I will never be able to get. Firstly, I think I have had herpes a long time but am one of the lucky ones that doesn't have noticeable symptoms. But at the same time that has me questioning when and from whom I got it and whom I should warn.

 

What is confusing for me is this ... I had a serious relationship about 5 years ago with a man who told me from the beginning he had herpes. We practiced safe sex, until after about a year. He had been outbreak-free for years and we both thought that meant shedding would not be a problem. I tested negative during that relationship. It ended and since then I have had a handful of sexual partners, some only very briefly. For the past year, I have had no sexual partners.

 

About 10 days ago while showering I felt a very small bump in the folds of my vagina. No pain, no itch, no nothing. It really just looked like a pimple, but I went immediatly to my GYN. She assured me this was just a skin eruption, too, but did a scrape. I left the doctor's office feeling silly for being so paranoid. But she called me yesterday and sounded as shocked as I was. I was positive for HSV2.

 

I don't know if I contracted it from the relationship with the man that I knew had it, or from someone I slept with over a year ago. A year ago I was seeing someone and after one of our encounters — a few weeks later — I had flu-like symptoms and weird pain in my upper thighs, "heaviness" in my pelvic region, and a huge swollen lymph node in my neck that lasted for several weeks. They were about ready to do surgery on me, but luckily it came down. Could that have been an "outbreak?" There were no bumps, blisters, or anything on my genitals.

 

I am thankful that, if these recent bumps were my first herpes outbreak, it was not harrowing. I did get a script for Valtrex in case though, just in case, but am not taking it unless something pops up. The two little bumps I had 10 days ago were completely healed and gone within 3 days of the doctor visit. I'm calm about it. Obviously I've had it for at the least a year (at the most 5) and it hasn't impacted my life. I hear it is harder to pass from woman to man, and none of the men I've slept with have called and said anything about contracting herpes after sleeping with me. Perhaps because I don't have noticeable outbreaks the chances were slimmer of me sharing. But of course now I will tell anyone prior to sex. I am 47 so I have a lower sex drive, and casual sex has no appeal to me at this point in my life.

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So your question is how you got it and how you can be sure you got it from? The short answer is there's no way to tell. You'll never know for sure. But that's just seems like taking the easy way out answering your post, doesn't it? ;)

 

You could have gotten herpes from either man, but what you describe about having a heaviness in your thighs and swollen lymph nodes from the year-ago guy sounds consistent with a lot of other first-herpes-outbreak stories I hear at the local support group and on this site. But again, there's no way to know for sure. Your 5 year guy could have given it to you during a viral shedding episode (which happens about 10% of the time, which could have been passed to you even with condom use depending on where his outbreaks happen).

 

Herpes outbreaks aren't always nicely timed right after a herpes infection. They don't coincide in a clear way. For example, the way I got herpes was my girlfriend at the time cheating on me with her ex over Christmas, contracting herpes, then during her first outbreak having sex with me and we just thought she was just raw (classy, huh?) ;) So I'm 99% sure that's where I originally got it. She called me the day after that wondrous day (lol) saying the doctor said for sure she was in the midst of an outbreak. I freaked. I began patiently waiting for some huge herpes outbreak to sprout up. A few weeks later, I came down with a bad case of the flu, swollen lymph nodes, and it hurt when I peed, but no actual herpes outbreak anywhere on my body. There was no IgG test at that time, so I couldn't know for sure if I had the antibodies for herpes. The longer I waited without an outbreak, the more I convinced myself that I had dodged a bullet. Wow, right? What are the chances?

 

Yeah, then it happened. I had an actual full-on outbreak years later. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had been SUPER safe since I thought some sort of a higher power had saved me and I promised myself and it that I wouldn't take those sorts of chances … ever … again. But there it was. I couldn't deny it. It had laid dormant in my body for years and then randomly came up. Yeah, herpes can be lazy sometimes.

 

Does that help at all? For what it's worth, I know of quite a few stories that parallel my own, so it's not so random. That's why so many people have trouble finding out patient 0 when it comes to their original herpes infector.

Notes:

  • My mother is now in hospice with end-stage cancer, so I am at her house a lot these days helping where I can until she passes. Thank you in advance for understanding if I am not as quick to respond as I normally would be. This is a precious and bittersweet time …
  • This content is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis. I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

Helpful resources:

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Thank you for sharing your story. I just hope when I have future outbreaks they are as mild as this last one was, but I guess there is no way to know. I'm not really clear on the medication either. Should I just take it every day (valtrex) to avoid it, or do you only do that if you can tell it is coming on? At this point, as I didn't realize either episodes may have been outbreaks, I'm not sure how to tell that yet, except to just go by other people's descriptions. I am such a loner I can deal with avoiding sex. I'm afraid of the pain and severity of an bad outbreak. I bought lysine today to begin taking. I eat fruit and veggies daily and supplement with herbs and vitamins already.

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Ah, well this should ease your troubled mind: Of all the stories I've heard, I haven't heard of someone whose outbreaks get worse as time goes on. Your awesome body is busy building up antibodies to suppress the virus, so they will successively become less and less ... As far as suppressive therapy is concerned (I'm no doctor, so take this at face value), I say hold off on that until 1) you realize you NEED it (if for whatever slim chance the outbreaks get worse), 2) you become intimate with someone who doesn't have the same strain (HSV1, HSV2) that you do and want to protect them, or 3) you feel the tingly sensation that signals an outbreak is coming on (you'll get to know this feeling) or catch the outbreak early on so that taking a large dose of Valtrex or Acyclovir will minimize the outbreak (consult your doctor for this dose). Who knows, you may only get 1-2 outbreaks per year (like me), which wouldn't necessitate medicating yourself (in my book). Just keep yourself healthy (mind and body) and see how it shakes out is my suggestion. Love yourself and your body will follow suit. I totally believe that. Big hug!

Notes:

  • My mother is now in hospice with end-stage cancer, so I am at her house a lot these days helping where I can until she passes. Thank you in advance for understanding if I am not as quick to respond as I normally would be. This is a precious and bittersweet time …
  • This content is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis. I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

Helpful resources:

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I'm so glad you are feeling better Notsurprised...the Hopp has a way of doing that :-). I was like you and went to the doctor for pimples that were no where near my vagina (navel and tailbone!) and she was shocked when it the test came back positive HSV2. I am sure I got it from a lover who had it (for 25 years and no symptoms) 18 months ago and in that case it was 6 months before it showed...and I almost had surgery for a huge enlarged gland on my neck too during that time with no other symptoms. Its a crazy virus that has no pattern you can bank on.

 

I'm with Hopp on the medication thing...why take it if you don't need to? I choose not too, I have found natural remedies good in helping an outbreak and will only take medication if I am with someone not +.

 

I'm 51 and sadly still love sex and wish I could have more, well any at the moment would be nice lol...I struggle with that as I too don't want casual sex, just a risk i am not prepared to take.

 

My outbreaks have settled and were never awful, just uncomfortable and I can feel a bit run down like with a cold. So your OB could be a small as a pin, a slight tingle or nothing apparent at all, once you test positive its just a matter of being aware of your body and living healthy in every respect. I just had another ob in the last 48hrs, mild as with a tiny bit of irritation for two days and now its gone - if I didn't have H I would never have noticed.

 

It was good to hear your story...can relate to it, thanks.

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