By: Marlene Affeld ~
Genital Herpes has become an epidemic of gargantuan proportions that no one wants to talk about. However, if you are part of the dating scene and exposed to the virus or you are a patient that has been recently diagnosed with the herpes virus, there are things you need to know about this relatively mild, but distressing virus that can cause ugly, painful and embarrassing outbreaks in areas of the body that seldom see the light of day.
The silence that surrounds herpes has both to do with the disease itself and concerns about what it can do to a new romance. For many people that harbor the herpes virus within their system, the symptoms are virtually non-existent or so mild that they are often overlooked. In many cases it’s often nearly impossible to notice an infection. For singles seeking a soul mate, the biggest harm in suffering herpes, comes from the dreaded “disclosure discussion” of telling your new partner the truth.
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is typically contracted in childhood while the genital infection from Herpes Simplex Virus 2 is caused by sexual contact in adulthood; many herpes patients suffer from both viruses. Herpes is the medical name used for eight related A viruses of humans. Herpes simplex is related to the viruses that cause chicken pox, infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr Virus), and shingles (varicella zoster virus).
Herpes Simplex virus Type 1 (HSV-1) manifests as sores with weeping blisters; cold sores typically forming around the mouth. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is spread by intimate contact with someone who has an active cold sore. HSV-1 can also be spread through personal items that are contaminated with the virus such as eating utensils, glassware, razors, smartphones, towels, or shared bedding.
Kissing, sexual intimacy or sharing personal items with an individual who has a cold sore will increase your risk of getting HSV-1. The virus can also be spread to the genital area during oral sex. People with cold sores are advised not perform oral sex on their partners. Easily spread because it is so good at hiding; the HSV-1 virus can be spread even when no cold sores are present.
Herpes Simplex virus Type 2 typically presents in sores on the penis, buttocks, stomach, vagina or cervix. Symptoms of an outbreak include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, and a burning, tingling and itching sensation of the skin. Symptoms present 2-to-20 days after contact with an infected person. Herpes Simplex Type 2 blisters can also appear on any other part of the torso: typically below the waist.
You can catch genital herpes (HSV-2) by having unprotected anal, vaginal, or oral sexual intercourse with someone who has the disease. Fluids in herpes blister or sore carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection. You can also get herpes from an infected sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected because the virus can be released through your skin and spread the infection to your sex partner(s).
Some herpes sufferers report that recurrences are triggered by poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, stress, illness, menstruation, and friction in the genital area such as that caused by tight clothing or vigorous or non-lubricated sex.
Your sexual partner may evidence no signs of having Herpes Simplex and may be unaware that they are carriers. They will unwittingly pass it on to you.
Once you catch the virus, it never leaves your body, so you can have periodic recurrences. Medical experts note, “The herpes simplex virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and travels into the nerves, where it may be inactive. The virus can remain dormant for years and may never wake up. The exact cause of an outbreak is unknown, but stress-related factors such as stress, fever, sunburn, extended soaking in a hot tub, major dental or surgical procedures and trauma are often associated with incidents.”
Herpes Is Rampant Across America
A sexually transmitted viral infection, Herpes or Herpes Simplex virus (HSV) is rampant in the United States. The United States Center For Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 250,000 people in the United States get new infections every year. Unfortunately, there is as yet no cure for herpes; once you catch it you have it for life.
According to the CDC, approximately one out of six people in the United States between the ages of 14 to 49 have genital herpes caused by the HSV-2 infection. The overall genital herpes statistic is considerably higher, the CDC advised, because many people are also contracting genital herpes through oral sex caused by HSV-1, the type of herpes usually responsible for cold sores.
Can I Still Have Sex?
When given a diagnosis of herpes, the first question most patients ask is “Can I still have sex if I have herpes?” The CDC advises, “If you have herpes, you should tell your sex partner(s) and let him or her know that you do and the risk involved. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.”
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) are serious infections, not to be ignored. The Center For Disease Control advises, “Left untreated, genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems. If you touch your sores or the fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another part of your body, such as your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading your infection.
Some people who get genital herpes have concerns about how it will impact their overall health, sex life, and relationships. It is best for you to talk to a health care provider about those concerns, but it also is important to recognize that while herpes is not curable, it can be managed. Since a genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships, it is important to understand how to talk to sexual partners about STDs. You can find one resource here: GYT Campaign.”
Dating With Herpes
When you have HSV-1, HSV-2 or any other sexually transmitted STD, dating can be a horrific nightmare, fraught with uncertainty, shame, anxiety and disappointment. You may feel like “Thyroid Mary” or become a social recluse, wallowing in self-pity.
You are not alone. Over 110 million people in the United States have HSV-1, HSV-2, HPV, AIDS, Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis or other STDs. Worldwide that number escalates to over 400 million.
Personal health inquiries and information about STDs:
CDC-INFO Contact Center
1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) TTY:
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
- O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827
By: Marlene Affeld