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cbf

First Semester Freshmen Year :(

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cbf

Today I went to my doctor with concerns.. She checked me out and said she strongly believes that I have herpes. I first saw signs yesterday and I've been crying ever since. I'm kind of confused on what all of this means. In school we were always taught that herpes was one of the bad ones but my doctor was very nonchalant about it. She told me to just think of it as a cold sore, just in a different place and she said there's no reason to freak out.. But I am. I'm only 18. I'm a freshmen in college. This is my first year away from home and I have no clue how to handle it. I've only told my best friend who's 8 hours away so I'm basically going through this alone. My mom and I are very close, and every time I've talked to her today I've teared up cause I know how sad she would be if she knew. It would probably affect her more emotionally than it's even affecting me. And the saddest part about it is that I haven't even been with that many people. I haven't had sex with any at my university and trust me, there have been temptations. But I always said that I didn't wanna catch anything so I would be extremely careful in college. I'm that girl who's always been cautious about how many guys she sleeps with, yet I still caught something. I'm still on and off crying and in hysterics. I have finals coming up and papers due next week. I need to get myself together!! Any tips on how? Any hope that I will still be able to have the future I planned with a husband and children? Will anyone ever want to date me? I'm so devastated right now.. Hoping I pull through soon..

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RealisticGal
Today I went to my doctor with concerns.. She checked me out and said she strongly believes that I have herpes. I first saw signs yesterday and I've been crying ever since. I'm kind of confused on what all of this means. In school we were always taught that herpes was one of the bad ones but my doctor was very nonchalant about it. She told me to just think of it as a cold sore, just in a different place and she said there's no reason to freak out.. But I am. I'm only 18. I'm a freshmen in college. This is my first year away from home and I have no clue how to handle it. I've only told my best friend who's 8 hours away so I'm basically going through this alone. My mom and I are very close, and every time I've talked to her today I've teared up cause I know how sad she would be if she knew. It would probably affect her more emotionally than it's even affecting me. And the saddest part about it is that I haven't even been with that many people. I haven't had sex with any at my university and trust me, there have been temptations. But I always said that I didn't wanna catch anything so I would be extremely careful in college. I'm that girl who's always been cautious about how many guys she sleeps with, yet I still caught something. I'm still on and off crying and in hysterics. I have finals coming up and papers due next week. I need to get myself together!! Any tips on how? Any hope that I will still be able to have the future I planned with a husband and children? Will anyone ever want to date me? I'm so devastated right now.. Hoping I pull through soon..

Hi cbf --- :itsme:

Gosh! So many emotions and questions and fears!

Well, you know what? The way you are feeling right now is totally normal. Let me see if I can help you wade through this. I'm going to try to address all the points you made.

First of all, it sounds like the doctor suspects that you have HSV based on looking at your symptoms. That is the least reliable way to identify HSV, with an error rate of 20% or higher. There are a whole bunch of other conditions that can mimic Herpes. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all suspected cases of HSV should be verified using actual laboratory tests.

Did your doctor run any tests? Did she take a sample from the sores using a swab? Did she draw blood?

Okay, you say you were taught in school that "herpes is one of the bad ones?" The only reason I can think of that they would present it that way, is because there is no cure for the virus at this point. BUT, as far as actual symptoms the virus causes...it is usually a very mild thing for most people. Usually the first outbreak is the worst. It typically gets less severe over time. Many people have only one or two outbreaks, ever. Some never have symptoms at all. Some of those who have HSV (roughly 20%) do have a difficult time with it, but for most is very rarely more significant than a minor skin irritation that might come back now and then. Yes, that is exactly how cold sores on the face/mouth work. Why? Because it is the same virus. The only difference is whether a person has it in the facial area, the genital area, the hands, wherever.

I understand how scary it must feel to be so young, away from home for the first time, and suddenly trying to deal with this on your own. The good news is, you found this site. It is a good resource for info, and there are a lot of supportive folks here to help you figure out how to manage this.

First thing you need to do: Make sure you were properly tested. If you didn't have the tests I mentioned before, you do not have a real diagnosis yet. Without those tests, you don't even know for sure whether or not you have herpes.

If the doctor did not swab the area of the sores for cultures, you should run quick like a bunny to get that done. It needs to be done while the sores are fresh. Be sure that if the culture test is run, the doctor orders the lab to "type" the sample.

You should have the blood tests run at the same time. The blood tests need to be TYPE SPECIFIC IgG-based tests that check for BOTH types of HSV (HSV-I and HSV-II).

About telling your folks --- you don't have to. There is no reason to do it if you are worried about upsetting them. Really, this is your personal medical information. The only people you should ever feel compelled to tell about it are medical caregivers and potential intimate partners.

To put this into perspective...I recently found out that my mom has oral herpes, AKA cold sores. She's had the virus since she was a kid, just like most folks. But she has not gotten any sores since before I was born. So I never knew about it before. On the other hand, my aunt (her sister) also has oral herpes and has always gotten outbreaks. I've always known that. Did you know that about 80% of adults in North America have oral herpes? Most of them got it when they were kids, through casual (non-sexual) contact. About 70% of them don't even know they have the virus. That is true of both oral/facial and also genital herpes.

My point is, if you do have HSV, you are in the majority of humans.

Next point --- you mentioned you haven't been active with anyone at college, nor have you had many previous partners. Well, it's sort of like pregnancy. Getting HSV only takes one time. Also, many folks are not aware that it can be passed even if you use a condom. It can also be passed during oral sex, from a person who have the virus in their oral/facial area to their partner's genital area.

Still, at this point you do not know for sure whether or not you have HSV. But if you do, please understand that it is just part of being a human on this planet. It is a very common, mostly harmless virus, that more have than do not.

About how to calm yourself... I'm not sure what to say on that one. I would normally recommend educating yourself more about HSV, so that you will see that it is not the "big bad" you believed it to be. Knowledge is power. However, you have tests to study for and papers coming due. You need to be working on those right now. Can you try just taking my word for it --- for now --- that when you have time to learn more about HSV you will find out it isn't as bad as you think right now?

Next question(s): Can you have the life you had planned? Will anyone date you? Can you have love, a husband, children, dogs, picket fences, a mortgage, all that stuff?

Well, I don't know for sure that you'll have those things. What I can tell you is, Herpes simplex cannot stop you from having those things unless you allow it to be an excuse for not "going for it."

There are many members here whose stories you can read. They have found love and all that other stuff. They have had babies.

I'm in a relationship with a man who had HSV, while I don't. When he told me about it, I took the time and I learned more. I found out how trivial it is, compared to the important things in life.

HSV cannot stop you from living your dreams. It is just a stupid virus that most humans get. In that way, it is no different from the flu or chicken pox. In fact, it is in the same family of viruses as the one that causes chicken pox! They are very similar.

Please, go out and get those tests done ASAP if the doctor neglected to do them before.

Then, buckle down and do your classwork. Worrying about the results will not change them. Let it go until you know, then we can help you figure out what to do next.

You aren't alone...

:wavey:

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cbf

Thank you, that really helped. And my doctor took a sample from the sores and I just have to wait about a week for the results. I also plan on getting the blood test done when I go to my gyno at home over winter break, just because I feel more comfortable there. Thanks again for your words, and I am trying my best to just chill out and get stuff done so that I can finish my first semester strong.

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RealisticGal
Thank you, that really helped. And my doctor took a sample from the sores and I just have to wait about a week for the results. I also plan on getting the blood test done when I go to my gyno at home over winter break, just because I feel more comfortable there. Thanks again for your words, and I am trying my best to just chill out and get stuff done so that I can finish my first semester strong.

I understand you may feel more comfortable with your home doctor, but here's something to consider.

Getting both types of test (culture and antibody) done at the same time can be very useful.

For one thing, it can help pin down a time frame of infection. If you don't get the blood (antibody) test done now, you will lose that option.

Another thing you should know --- the culture test (what your doctor did) has a significant rate of "false negative" results, often caused by mishandling of the sample or simply not getting a good sample. If you get a "false" result on that test now, it might be inaccurate. That would leave you wondering what you are dealing with. If you also get the blood test now, it could be sort of a "back up" in case that culture test happens to yield confusing results.

I can't tell you exactly how many members have told their stories here, including the fact that they wish their doctors had ordered both tests during their initial outbreak. (I can tell you...there are a lot!)

Did the doctor consider any other conditions? Did she mention testing you for any others?

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cbf

No. She was pretty set on the fact that it was HSV. I asked her if it could be anything else and she said most likely no. She mentioned that the swab test could come back negative even if I still have it. She also brought up the blood test but said that it was also somewhat inefficient because it would just test for the HSV virus and that it would come back positive for anyone who's ever gotten a cold sore because it won't tell where you get the virus at, just that you're a carrier of it. But I still definitely want the blood test done. But health services on campus can be somewhat of a pain to go through. But when you say pin down a time frame for infection do you mean a frame of when I got it? Could that help me identify who I contracted it from?

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RealisticGal
No. She was pretty set on the fact that it was HSV. I asked her if it could be anything else and she said most likely no.

It could certainly end up being HSV (though I don't know what your symptoms were). But your doc is wrong in believing she can be so sure about that before the test results are back. As I mentioned before, many other conditions can resemble HSV. The experts in the field of STIs/HSV tell us that even they can make mistakes trying to identify it visually.

I've read the stories of many folks here. So often, their doctor has told them something like, "I'm 99.99% certain this is herpes," based on the visual exam. Well, a lot of times those doctors have been proven wrong.

You just won't know until you know.

She mentioned that the swab test could come back negative even if I still have it. She also brought up the blood test but said that it was also somewhat inefficient because it would just test for the HSV virus and that it would come back positive for anyone who's ever gotten a cold sore because it won't tell where you get the virus at, just that you're a carrier of it.

The doc has some points, but they are not strong enough to exclude getting a blood test now.

It is true that blood tests cannot identify the location of infection. However, about 98% of oral herpes is caused by HSV-I. Most often, genital herpes is caused by HSV-II. If you were tested for both, you might find that you have neither, or one type, or both.

Have you ever had an oral cold sore that you can remember?

Is this the first time you ever remember getting any genital symptoms that you weren't sure about?

But I still definitely want the blood test done. But health services on campus can be somewhat of a pain to go through. But when you say pin down a time frame for infection do you mean a frame of when I got it? Could that help me identify who I contracted it from?

Yes, I sure do understand that the campus health folks can be a royal pain. Is there a Planned Parenthood clinic near your school? You might be able to go through them to get the blood tests done.

By getting the culture and blood tests done at the same time (even within a few days of each other), it might help you pin down whether you got HSV recently, or whether you have had it for a while. That might help narrow down the source, as well.

Personal question time: When was the last time you had intimate relations?

:hmmmm2:

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cbf

I just got back from health services again. I asked my doctor lots of questions! she said that getting the blood test is up to me but that it can be confusing if the swab and blood test come back different. She also said that she was unaware if the test could pin point when I got infected but that it is possible and that she could ask the lab people for me. I asked her again if it could be anything else and she said it is possible but that she has seen many outbreaks and that mine is very suspicious for herpes. I have never had any type of cold sore ever in my life! No one in my family has either. This is the first time I've seen anything like this in my genital area. There is a Planned Parenthood near campus so I will definitely check it out. And I had intimate relations with my boyfriend 8 days ago. I first saw the sores 2 days ago so I broke out 6 days after being with him the last time. However, I was with him 4 days before that 8 day mark as well. to make it easier to understand: November 19th and November 23rd I was with him and I broke out November 29th.

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RealisticGal
I just got back from health services again. I asked my doctor lots of questions! she said that getting the blood test is up to me but that it can be confusing if the swab and blood test come back different. She also said that she was unaware if the test could pin point when I got infected but that it is possible and that she could ask the lab people for me.

It might be confusing to her. It wouldn't be confusing to those of us here who are familiar with the ins and outs of HSV testing technology.

If the swab/culture were to come back positive, and if the blood tests were to come back negative, that would suggest a very recent infection.

It is so sad that doctors are generally quite unfamiliar with this stuff, especially those specifically serving a population of your age group. Ah, well...it's sad, but very common.

I asked her again if it could be anything else and she said it is possible but that she has seen many outbreaks and that mine is very suspicious for herpes.

Like I said, it may be HSV. If the tests come back negative, you can get tested for other stuff (never hurts to be screened anyway)...and you can also plan to be retested for HSV later.

I have never had any type of cold sore ever in my life! No one in my family has either.

Well, then... That could mean one of two things.

Either you are in the minority of humans, those who don't have oral herpes.

Or you are one of those who does have the virus but doesn't show recognizable symptoms.

This is the first time I've seen anything like this in my genital area. There is a Planned Parenthood near campus so I will definitely check it out. And I had intimate relations with my boyfriend 8 days ago. I first saw the sores 2 days ago so I broke out 6 days after being with him the last time. However, I was with him 4 days before that 8 day mark as well. to make it easier to understand: November 19th and November 23rd I was with him and I broke out November 29th.

The timing of your scenario definitely suggests the possibility of this being your primary (first) outbreak of genital HSV. It could be caused by either type, HSV-I or HSV-II. I do hope your doctor ordered the lab to "type" that culture.

Once your test results are available, I suggest you ask for a hard-copy printout.

We'll help you understand the numbers, etc.

:wavey:

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cbf

Yea she ordered the type culture. Thanks and I'll let you know when the test comes back! You've been great at helping me calm down and realizing that it's not the end of the world. :)

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RealisticGal
Yea she ordered the type culture. Thanks and I'll let you know when the test comes back! You've been great at helping me calm down and realizing that it's not the end of the world. :)

I'm really glad you are feeling a bit calmer, cbf. Now, go do great on your finals!

:wavey:

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cbf

swab test came back positive for HSV-2..

Can't say I'm surprised.. Talked to my partner and he still says he's never had signs but it seems like he's taking it seriously and going to get checked. He's apologetic and I forgive him.. I just blame myself mostly. But it is what it is, there's nothing I can do about it now. So question, is this the end to my sex life for good?

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Acesheart

Hey cbf, absolutely not :) . I have ghsv2 for 24 years and I'm married. We have sexy times and unprotected oral, he is still non h man. We also have a daughter too. Life will be what you chose to make it. Take care, Ace :hithere:

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cbf

Did you meet your husband after you were diagnosed? My fear is that no one will want to be with me knowing what I have.. I mean, my plan now is celibacy until I find someone that I could see myself being with for the rest of my life. And even once I find that person i want to date them for awhile before bringing sex into the equation. But when its time for sex and I tell him I feel like he'll be angry and feel like I was leading him on and by not telling him early in the relationship! I feel like everything is just so much more complicated now that I have HSV :(

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RealisticGal
swab test came back positive for HSV-2..

Can't say I'm surprised.. Talked to my partner and he still says he's never had signs but it seems like he's taking it seriously and going to get checked. He's apologetic and I forgive him.. I just blame myself mostly. But it is what it is, there's nothing I can do about it now. So question, is this the end to my sex life for good?

HSV is a sneaky little bastard of a virus. It often does not cause any recognizable symptoms. Add to that the fact that it is not included in most routine STI panels. For these reasons, the vast majority of those who have HSV (experts estimate 70% or more) are not aware of it.

Finally, most people do not have good understanding of the virus. We are not given good information about it in health classes. Most of what we know is false stigma and rumor.

Please do not blame yourself, or your partner. There is no reason to lay blame on anyone. You are in the same situation with all the rest of humanity on this one, that's all.

No, it need not be the end of your sex life at all. That would only happen if you made it so.

It is good that your partner is being tested. Most likely he will find out that he also has HSV-II. Are you guys still together that way? If so, this doesn't need to change anything. In fact, if you both have HSV-II, it is sort of "a good thing." It would mean you don't have to worry about taking precautions to avoid passing the virus to each other, because you would both already have it.

As far as the future, that is also not "the end."

So many people have this same virus. They live with it all the time, and most have little to no trouble with it most of the time. They have full lives that include love, romance, sex, marriage, kids, dogs, jobs, student loans, mortgages, car repairs, grocery bills, family drama...the whole enchilada!

You can learn more about how to manage HSV from the Herpes Information Library. >>>>>>>>>>>>>

:wavey:

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RealisticGal
Did you meet your husband after you were diagnosed? My fear is that no one will want to be with me knowing what I have.. I mean, my plan now is celibacy until I find someone that I could see myself being with for the rest of my life. And even once I find that person i want to date them for awhile before bringing sex into the equation. But when its time for sex and I tell him I feel like he'll be angry and feel like I was leading him on and by not telling him early in the relationship! I feel like everything is just so much more complicated now that I have HSV :(

Your worries and fears are the same ones almost everyone who is newly diagnosed goes through. Completely normal.

Your "plan" sounds very familiar too.

The American Social Health Association tells us that "almost everyone who is newly diagnosed with Herpes simplex gives up on sex...at least for a while."

Everyone is worried that "nobody will want me" when they get this diagnosis. But there are many couples here to show you that is not the case.

My fella has HSV, while I do not. We hung out for a long time. He finally told me --- because it was clear we were heading towards intimacy. I did the research and decided the chance of love with a really great guy was much more important that a stupid little, common, mostly-harmless virus.

There is no reason you have to rush in relationships. Take your time. Have fun dating while you get to know a fella. If he seems trustworthy, and if it is obvious you both want to take things to an intimate level, then you can tell. There is no reason to tell anyone about it until that point.

Hope this helps.

:wavey:

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cbf

It is good that your partner is being tested. Most likely he will find out that he also has HSV-II. Are you guys still together that way? If so, this doesn't need to change anything. In fact, if you both have HSV-II, it is sort of "a good thing." It would mean you don't have to worry about taking precautions to avoid passing the virus to each other, because you would both already have it.

But would we have to be careful about oral? Could the virus spread to our mouths if we give oral even though it's genital HSV-2?

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RealisticGal
But would we have to be careful about oral? Could the virus spread to our mouths if we give oral even though it's genital HSV-2?

There are no absolutes with HSV.

The experts tell us that having an infection with HSV (either type, even) offers some protection against getting a second infection ---- either in a different place or with the other type. But that protection is not 100%.

That said, oral HSV-II is considered the least common scenario. For whatever reason, it doesn't happen as often as any other combination.

Too bad the blood tests were not done. Then you might know whether or not you have HSV-I.

If you are positive for HSV-I by bloodwork, it would probably mean you have oral HSV-I. If that were the case, it would be HIGHLY unlikely for you to get oral HSV-II on top of that.

But even without oral HSV-I, it is very unusual for folks to get oral HSV-II.

The first thing we did when my partner and I got intimate was oral. I did that because I figured if I did get oral HSV-II, it might help protect me against genital HSV-II.

You might find this little article helpful:

"Good" Virus/"Bad" Virus --- the truth about HSV-I and HSV-II

Another thing is, if you take daily antiviral medication, it lowers the chances of spreading the virus quite a bit.

The important thing is for you to understand that there is always a possibility, even though it is considered quite low.

From there, you two can make your own decisions about what to do and what precautions to take.

:itsme:

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