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Help! My boyfriend is exhibiting symptoms.


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I have had herpes for 23 years. I always tell my potential partners before sex and let them decide. I haven't lost one or passed it on to anyone yet...until now, I fear.

Two weeks ago we had a vigorous lovemaking session after a week-long separation. We were both sore from the friction, but two days after that, I started getting itchy...classic symptoms of a yeast infection. I told him that I had a yeast infection and he said, "is that why I'm itchy down there too?" Somewhat worrying, but I thought maybe I'd passed a yeast infection on to him (or him to me). I gave him some antifungal cream to apply to the red, rashy area on his penis and scrotum. He also complained that the skin on his penis was very dry and scaly with whitish patches. No blisters though, and no pain...just itchy. A day after this, I suddenly had very tender lymph glands on both sides of the groin area...which are normally classic symptoms of a herpes outbreak for me. Alarmed, I made an appointment with my doctor, who examined me and found no herpes lesions at all. I didn't even have yeast...it must have already cleared up after two days of medication (but I was still red and itchy). I asked her about my boyfriend's symptoms and she said it's probably just dry skin, that lesions are lesions and he would definitely know it if he had an outbreak. She recommended that he get tested to put our minds at ease or confirm once and for all. Of course he didn't. I went away for another week and expected his symptoms to be gone so we could get back to our normal sexual activity and was dismayed when he said that it was still there...only something worse had happened.

He had masturbated a couple of days ago and was extremely alarmed to find that there were several tiny pinprick sized blisters on the shaft of his penis just under the lip of the head. With his erection these blisters burst and he found himself in considerable discomfort...followed by extreme itching that night and all the next day. I had a look at the area and sure enough there are three tiny little red bumps there.

From what I've been reading, it looks almost certainly like this is an initial herpes outbreak, which might explain why it's lasted so long. I haven't, however, come across anything about the dry, itchy skin on the penis that he experienced. And this outbreak is quite mild and not painful as I've seen them described. (Certainly my initial outbreak was brutal...I was actually hospitalized!) There is the fact that he has HSV I...cold sores on the mouth and I believe that when a person has this virus, they are less affected by the HSV II.

I feel just awful about passing this virus on to him...I feel like typhoid Mary...even though he had all the facts up front and chose for himself. At this point he is thinking of himself and has withdrawn somewhat, which is understandable. I am worried sick about him and feel responsible. This could have major repercussions on our relationship - we care a lot for each other but it is only 4 months old and somewhat tenuous. If it is herpes, he will have to deal with the fact that he will have to tell every sexual partner he has for the rest of his life...on the bright side, if we are to "make it", this won't be a concern. Conversely, if it isn't herpes, we've just had an eye-opening experience and he will most likely be reconsidering his options and may choose to "get the heck out of dodge" while he can...now that he knows how he would really feel about contracting this virus. I love this guy and want to support him as best I can...and I don't want to lose him.

Any advice, information or support you can offer would be most gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

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    • CHT
      Hi "Jeremy"..... I agree, the topic of your HSV status does not need to be something you disclose too soon in a developing relationship..... get to know each other first....see how it's going and as it progresses, then the HSV issue will naturally need to be revealed.... it's my personal opinion though that before there is any sexual encounter you ought to disclose your HSV status.... I know some will disagree with me on this but, I think it is morally wrong not to disclose first.  This can be a make/break situation for most people but, again, I feel it is simply wrong not to give the other person the whole story since your decision not to disclose could put their health at risk.... that is simply not an option in my opinion.  Looking back to my "pre-HSV" life I most certainly would want my partner to disclose their HSV+ status before intimacy so that I could make my decision as to whether I want to take that risk or not.... 
    • Jeremy Spokein
      Thanks, CHT. I appreciate the feedback. The whole trauma of going through this has led me to figure out a lot about myself and my attachment wounds, so I'm taking courses to come out of this better. This girl really was my dream woman in so many ways, it's been the hardest heartbreak to deal with ever. I'm truly in a lot of pain, but using the pain as fuel to launch that new business and work with coaches. I also opened up to my family about HSV, so my parents and sister know now, and they were very loving and accepting of it. Since opening up about it, I feel way better around this thing. After opening up, I also found out that some mutual friends in our family have discordant couples who are married with children, so HSV hasn't stopped them from living a loving life. The thing is... all of these couples I mention did not disclose until 6-8 months into the relationship. So now I'm thinking it might be better not to disclose until I know things are very serious. I'll of course stay on the medication and use protection, but maybe this is a better route than disclosing upfront and scaring women off.
    • WilsoInAus
      Hey @Lcj987 and welcome to the website. You can be sure that isn't HSV-2, looks nothing like it. It is much more likely to be folliculitis or inflamed fordyce spots.
    • WilsoInAus
      Hey @JackThrowAway herpes causes an outbreak where it enters the body first and maybe a progressive spread. If it doesn't cause an outbreak at the entry site then it won't cause one elsewhere, it also won't 'jump' upon infection - it would be more likely that the lesions are continuous from the penis to the anus. Nevertheless, testing trumps symptoms or any interpretation of symptoms. The correct conclusive result arises when: you have a positive swab; or An IgG HSV-2 level over 3.5 (Herpeselect test).
    • Lcj987
      Slept with someone unprotected, roughly 2 weeks ago now. I felt generally unwell the couple of days after but I’d been drinking the whole weekend and didn’t have much sleep either of the days of that weekend so put it down to that. 6 days after I noticed these spots appear on the shaft of my penis. Along with symptoms of discomfort in my shaft in the couple of days prior to them appearing. No pain when urinating at all that I have noticed. They don’t hurt, itch or tingle and they don’t have fluid in from what I can see or feel if I squeeze them and have never burst? I went to a sexual health clinic to get checked up, they took bloods to do a full test and looked at the spots but said they saw nothing that concerned them but I’m not sure about that, any advice? The smaller spots under the shaft are just follicles I had diagnosed years ago and non-sti related.
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