This made me think that nobody would ever want to date or sleep with me again. I'd struggle to get to sleep after compulsively reading articles online, then I'd jolt awake early in the morning, panicking. At the time I thought it was an insect bite, but it stayed for a couple of weeks and I realised that the small red mark was something else.
So then I thought it might be an allergic reaction to a new fabric softener. After a few weeks, I went to my GP who said she thought it might be herpes. My GP referred me to a sexual health clinic in September and I got tested the same month.
They swabbed the sore and sent it off for testing, and my results came back positive. I crumpled into a heap on the floor. I got a text message from the doctor and was told after I called that I had herpes and I had to contact all my sexual partners. That was pretty much it.
Normally you only get one flare-up a year, at the most. After I was diagnosed, I was scared of rejection and stopped dating entirely for a few months. But I knew that the longer I put it off, the scarier it would be. We went on a couple of dates but I didn't know when to bring it up.
After our second date she asked me to come inside after I'd walked her home and kissed her goodbye, but I refused. I'd been drinking and I was far too afraid to talk about it then. The next day, I called a support line in a panic, and their advice was to tell her before we went on another date. I called and invited her round the same evening.
That whole day, I thought about nothing else and felt sick when the time finally came. I told her as we sat on my couch, looking at the ground the whole time. When I looked up she just laughed at me for being so worried, and kissed me. The reason being that if I'm dating someone and think we might have sex at some point, I will tell them that I have HSV But I only want to go through that with someone I really like, who I know I can trust.
No one has ever seemed to be put off by the HSV However, it has meant I've been less likely to date friends-of-friends for fear of everyone finding out. What you say and how you say it is going to depend on your own personal style. Your attitude will influence how this news is received. Psychologists have observed that people tend to behave the way you expect them to behave, and expecting rejection increases the chances of an unhappy outcome.
A straightforward and positive conversation about herpes issues is the best approach and may be helped by forward planning. How long should you know someone before you tell them? Allow the relationship to develop a little. There are good and bad times to bring up the topic of herpes. Talking just prior to love-making is not a good idea either.
The discussion could take place anywhere you feel safe and comfortable. Some people turn off the TV, take the phone off the hook, and broach the subject over a quiet dinner at home. Others prefer a more open place, like walking in the park, so that their partner will feel free to go home afterwards to mull things over.
This allows both people to work off a little nervous energy at the same time.
Try to be natural and spontaneous. If you find yourself whispering, mumbling, or looking at the floor, stop for a moment and try to speak calmly and clearly.
Look your partner in the face. Your delivery affects your message. The following opening statements represent a variety of nonthreatening ways to prompt discussion about herpes. They are not intended to be regarded as scripts. Try not to be melodramatic. This is not a confession or a lecture, simply the sharing of information between two people. Avoid negative words and keep the dialogue simple and factual: Could we talk about what this means for us?
Look for logical opportunities to bring up the subject. You might even be surprised to learn that your partner has been equally concerned about telling you that they have genital herpes or another sexual infection. In fact, the probability of this is reasonably high, given the statistics on HSV. People may just need a little time to assimilate the information.
This is where having good written information helps. Consider giving them reading material or referring them to a Sexual Health Centre, the Herpes Helpline. Whatever the reaction, try to be flexible. Remember that it took you time to adjust as well. Negative reactions are often no more than the result of misinformation. It takes a lot more than the occasional aggravation of herpes to destroy a sound relationship. Some people react negatively no matter what you say or how you say it.
Others might focus more energy on herpes than on the relationship. These people are the exception, not the rule. This is not a reflection on you. You are not responsible for their reaction. If your partner is unable to accept the facts about herpes, encourage him or her to speak with a medical expert or counsellor. The majority of people will react well.
They will respect the trust you demonstrate in sharing a personal confidence with them. With the proper approach and information, herpes can be put into perspective: Regarding the relationship overall, know that you can have the same level of intimacy and sexual activity that any couple can. It is true that in an intimate sexual relationship with a person who has herpes oral or genital , the risk of contracting herpes will not be zero, but while there is a possibility of contracting herpes this is a possibility for any sexually active person.
And the person may unwittingly already have been exposed to the herpes virus in a previous relationship. All relationships face challenges, most far tougher than herpes. Good relationships stand and fall on far more important issues — including communication, respect and trust. Whether or not this relationship works out, you have enlightened someone with your education and experience about herpes, correcting some of the myths about herpes that cause so much harm.
You have removed the shroud of silence that makes it so difficult for others to speak. And you have confronted a personal issue in your life with courage and consideration. Your partner has genital herpes. Your support is very important in helping you and your partner to understand what this means. When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the herpes infection. In the meantime, here are answers to some questions you may have. Genital herpes is a common infection generally transmitted through sexual contact.
It is caused by one of two members of a family of viruses which also include the viruses causing chickenpox and shingles, and glandular fever. Usually, genital herpes is caused by infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 HSV-2 , and studies suggest that in some countries, one in five people are infected with this virus. Genital herpes, for most people, is an occasionally recurrent, sometimes painful condition for which effective treatment is now available.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of catching genital herpes, regardless of their gender, race or social class. Genital herpes can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. It can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. HSV-2 infection is usually passed on during vaginal or anal sex. HSV-1 is usually transmitted by oral sex mouth to genital contact. If your partner has only just been diagnosed as having genital herpes, this does not necessarily mean that he or she has been unfaithful to you, or sexually promiscuous in the past.
Your partner may have caught genital herpes from you.
So it is very easy for you to have unwittingly transmitted the infection to your partner. The symptoms of the infection vary greatly between individuals — it might be totally unnoticeable in you, but cause severe blistering in your partner. Since the genital herpes virus can be transmitted through oral sex as well as vaginal sex, it is also possible that your partner caught the virus from a cold sore on your mouth or face.
Alternatively, your partner may have contracted the herpes virus from a previous sexual partner, perhaps even several years ago. The herpes virus can remain inactive in the body for long periods, so this may be the first time it has caused symptoms. If your partner is having a first episode of genital herpes, he or she is likely to feel generally unwell and have fever, headache, and general bone and muscle aches, as well as irritation in the genitals.
This may last for several days, during or after which reddened areas may appear on the genitals. These may develop into painful blisters. The blisters then burst, generally to leave sores which gradually heal, usually without scarring. The severity of this first herpes episode varies between individuals, but for some people it may be severe and last for up to three weeks if not treated. These symptoms should quickly resolve with treatment.