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My story/need advise from women

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I'm a male mid 40's, married 2 children, and I'm a mess right now. My wife is getting over an initial OB, she visited her OBGYN who was great and really put my beautiful wife at ease considering the situation. When my wife 1st mentioned her symptoms we searched internet and all results were coming back H, we were both in shock and said no way. Well she made an appt and I kept scouring the Internet and educating myself on this disease and I'm positive I'm the giver.

Here's my story, I've had cold sores since I was a teenager but I guess it was never a big deal to me or anyone around me, I was never made fun of because of this. In my mid 20's I was also in a few relationships and to be honest(one night stands). These past 2 weeks I've been reading everything on internet and this forum and I never knew symptoms can be mild or have none at all. well in my mid 20's I remember having a small stinging pimple(s) on my swollen foreskin of penis but it healed up quickly and I didn't think anything of it again, after that I can recall the same thing happen maybe 3 or 4 times over my lifetime but very long stretches between and not very painful, felt like when you try popping a zit .I thought it was from friction of either sex or masturbation. I think I've also experienced that tingling feeling in legs but not certain. From what I remember about Sex Ed in high school I never had anything like the pictures they showed you in those classes. I have an appt with my doctor scheduled for early next week and I plan on getting myself tested but I've resigned myself to......I'm the Dbag who gave my beautiful, sweet, loving, incredible wife.....Herpes. I can't believe what an idiot I was, was it denial? Why wasn't I more aware of my body, I rarely go to Dr, I have a strong immune system, rarely get sick

She's' taking it ok so far but I know her and it's just a matter of time before she breaks down and it really hits her. I want to be there for her and help her as much as I can. I've already ordered almost everything recommended to help ease outbreaks,(lysine, alum ammonia etc) I just don't want my wife to lose her spark for life, she's active(career woman and into running)


My questions


1. Does it really get better with outbreaks, my wife said what she just went through was horrible

2. I understand she's not going to get over the physiological effects any time soon but do a lot of people really get back to normal...really?

3. What can I do to help? I still love her tremendously and want to help her get back to normal as quick as possible


Sorry for the long post, I'm a mess and trying to support her in anyway I can.

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Hi, @MM552. Welcome!


Yes, outbreaks typically improve with time. I always had mild outbreaks which I attributed to yeast infections or rough sex (I had no idea I had herpes for 20+ years and just got the diagnosis a year ago), nor do I remember ever getting an initial outbreak, so I don't have much personal experience with how time has changed things. In hindsight, my experience with herpes was a lot like yours.


Yes, a lot of people really get back to normal. Really. :-) How people deal with the initial diagnosis is going to vary widely. For some, it's a blip on the radar. For others, there's a much bigger impact. Ultimately, herpes is an annoying skin condition with an undeserved bad reputation. The more that both of you learn about it, the more you'll realize how common it is.


My personal thoughts on how you can help--just my own humble opinions:


First, give her room to experience whatever she's experiencing. It might be anger, grief, shock, sadness, or all of it all at once. Don't try to fix it. Just continue to express how much you love her and be patient if she needs to experience some negative emotions as part of the healing process. On the flip side, try not to treat her like fragile glass either, expecting things to bottom out. She may have a relatively easy adjustment. When I feel broken, I want others to believe in me and believe that I am strong and capable of whatever I'm facing. It helps me to believe it myself.


Second, don't forget about YOU! I get that our society--heck, even our loved ones sometimes--don't really give men permission to be anything other than strong and totally together. Learning to forgive yourself and love yourself is a huge thing that would absolutely benefit your wife. You're not a d'bag. You're human. You didn't know. I'm about your age and had sex ed too---no one mentioned that herpes can be without symptoms or really mild symptoms and that condoms dont guarantee you won't get it. You didn't know. Forgive yourself and move forward. That's all any of us can do. {{hugs}}


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I'm so sorry. The situation you've described is actually quite common. From the CDC: "Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected." (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm)


I don't know if the minor and infrequent symptoms you had on your penis were related to herpes, but 80-90% of people with genital herpes have symptoms mild enough to go unnoticed or mistaken for other minor skin conditions, and this is even more likely among people who contract genital herpes after already having oral herpes (cold sores). The only way to know your status is to get tested. An IgG blood test will accurately detect 70% of HSV1 cases and 95% of HSV2 cases, providing at least 12 weeks have passed from the time of infection.


In answer to your specific questions...


1. Primary outbreaks are typically magnitudes worse than recurrences. If she has recurrences (some people do, some people don't), they are likely to decrease in intensity and frequency with time. The virus is often more active during the first several months while antibodies are building.


2. A lot of people get back to normal, yes. For some people, recurrences are an unpleasant reminder, but how unpleasant is dictated by numerous factors (pain level, frequency, the manner in which it was contracted, concerns about possible transmission to a partner who is HSV-, whether the person associates the diagnosis with shame or whether they see it as you see your cold sores, like just a normal part of being human and no big deal, etc.). If she does get recurrences and finds them bothersome, she may want to explore antivirals. Taken daily, they can suppress outbreaks. Taken episodically (when outbreaks occur) they can lessen the length of outbreaks.


3. It sounds like you're already doing all the right stuff. You're reminding her of your love for her, checking into your own HSV status, educating yourself, being compassionate, providing care. However, you can't control how quickly she moves through this process. For many people, it's a traumatic event that propels them through various stages of grief. Many people do go through a stage of anger. If that happens, it's normal and will hopefully pass.



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Thank you Hiking girl, I appreciate the quick response. I was thinking along the lines you advised. Giving her space and just supporting her as much as I can.

Another question popped up, when an outbreak happens are you able to exercise, hike, run etc. or is this a no go?

And thank you about your comment regarding my mental health, unfortunately that's going to take some time. I feel horrible, my wife is the sweetest woman and I want to see her smile again

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Thank you optimist,


My wife is a strong woman but no one deserves this. I feel so guilty when I look at her and even my kids.......I feel like I messed up their mom a little.

my wife knows I feel like crap and she's at times consoling me which makes me feel worse but I'm not showing it(or I don't think I am anyway)


I'm sorry, I just thought of another question, once things are healed up down there and she's in a better mood I want to try and have sex with her asap because she has told me how dirty and gross she feels now and I will never want to have sex with her again. Which is ridiculous, I want her to feel loved and as sexy as ever but I'm wondering if that might be too soon, I was reading sex sometimes triggers recurrences....is this correct?

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@MM552 She might be feeling dirty and gross because she has an outbreak going on and is turned off the visual or physical aspect of it, or it might be because she's been conditioned over the course of a lifetime to believe that genital herpes itself is something to feel dirty about. If you can change your perspective about "messing her up a little bit" I think it would help. You rarely hear people agonize over passing along oral herpes (cold sores) because, as you've experienced, they are mostly accepted as just a normal part of being human and not tied to being damaged in some way.


Yes, some people do find that friction and sex triggers outbreaks, particularly if the sex is rough or there isn't sufficient lubrication or there's been a long period of celibacy. If this is the case for her, I would again recommend considering antivirals to suppress outbreaks. However, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this will happen every time you have sex. In fact, she may never have a recurrence. But if it happens repeatedly, she may want to look into how to suppress or limit those symptoms. I would guess you'd want to wait a bit after a primary outbreak as they are typically longer in duration and more severe than recurrences. In fact, some people experience two consecutive sets of lesions during a primary outbreak which can be really discouraging. My situation was similar to that of @HikingGirl's in that I did not notice when I contracted HSV2 and may or may not have had mild outbreaks I mistakenly attributed to something else, such as yeast infections. Hard to say because yeast infections can happen, as can mild outbreaks. I eventually learned of my status through a blood test. But my point is that I did not recognize a primary outbreak and therefore can't advise on how long it's necessary to wait to resume sexual activity, though certainly I'd wait until she feel 100% ready. Until then, you can show your desire for her in many other ways that don't involve friction, whether verbal or physical. Honestly, I have a FWB who says complimentary things about my lady parts with no thought to my HSV status and it's very meaningful to me to be treated just the same as anyone else. He probably has no idea how much it means to me to hear him say those things. Sorry if that was a little TMI!



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I asked earlier but it was probably overlooked, can women exercise, run, etc while having an outbreak. I asked my wife if she could have during this initial episode and she said "no way" so I'm hoping since recurrences generally are not as intense is this a possibility. Are there women who exercise while having a recurrence?

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@MM552 Most people who get recurrences have very mild symptoms and the recurrences are typically short in duration (as compared to primary outbreaks). For instance, one tiny blister or a feeling of razorburn. On the far ends of the spectrum are women who get no recurrences at all and women who get very painful recurrences that can include nerve pain. So it just depends on where she falls on that spectrum. A minority of people will get recurrences that make exercise very difficult for a few days during outbreaks, a minority will get no symptoms at all, and most will have mild symptoms that they may *notice* as sort of an annoyance when exercising but that would not make it difficult to exercise. I hope that makes sense.


Edit to add: Again, if I can use cold sores as an example, you are familiar with your own experience of how disruptive they are or are not. Most people who get occasional cold sores find it to be an annoyance and nothing more. Some carry the virus that causes cold sores but never have symptoms. Some get frequent outbreaks of numerous cold sores and even call in sick to work as a result. It really varies.

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@MM552 I'm able to exercise just fine while having an outbreak (running, yoga, pilates, weightlifting and hiking), because my outbreaks are mild. As @optimist said, everyone is different, and things may change over time.


If you can change your perspective about "messing her up a little bit" I think it would help. You rarely hear people agonize over passing along oral herpes (cold sores) because, as you've experienced, they are mostly accepted as just a normal part of being human and not tied to being damaged in some way.


I'd highlight, bold and underline this a million times if I could!! @optimist did a great job of summarizing what I was trying to get at earlier. It's normal for you to feel bad, and to express regret. Your reaction is especially normal since this is a brand new diagnosis for both of you. As you learn more about herpes, and eventually forgive yourself and accept what has happened, it will improve the way both of you view the virus. Because aside from the (sometimes) physical pain and discomfort of outbreaks, it's the (mis)perception that those of us with herpes are "damaged" that is the most painful of all.




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  • 2 weeks later...

@MM552 yes, she can workout, run etc. I do and I've had this 35 yrs. Husband H negative. We live a very normal life. I'm very, very fit. Weight training 6 days a week. She will be back to normal....or normal as you know it, in no time. Just keep doing what you are doing.

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