Herpes is among the most feared STIs. Life beyond this diagnosis is simpler than you think. Learn how to move on after a herpes diagnosis.
I’m going to make an assumption here and consider you, the reader, may be newly diagnosed with herpes.
In this article we’re going to cover a lot of ground together and answer the question “Is herpes really that bad?”
No matter if you have HSV1 or HSV2 (herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2), the questions that could be weighing you down mentally and emotionally are basically the same.
When someone hears these diagnoses, they might think: “Can I ever have a normal sex life again?” “Is my social life over?” “Is this really such a big deal?” First, we should remember that much of our reaction to this kind of news is greatly impacted by our personal understanding (or misunderstanding) of this STI.
Much of the reality of STIs are shrouded in layers of jokes, shame, and embarrassment despite the wide prevalence among sexually active people.
Also Read: How Can I Protect My Partner From Herpes?
Herpes simplex virus, commonly known as herpes, is a viral infection that is transmitted via skin-to-skin contact.
There are two types of herpes strains: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) and type 2 (HSV2). HSV1 is often transmitted via oral-to-oral contact, or coming into contact with an item touched by someone with a sore, and can cause skin blisters like cold sores in and around the mouth area.
HSV1 can rarely cause genital herpes. HSV2 is transmitted via genital-to-genital contact such as vaginal or anal sex and may result in genital herpes.
According to the World Health Organization, genital herpes infections often have no symptoms or mild symptoms that go widely unrecognized.
Most people that are infected with herpes have no clue. While there is no cure for herpes, treatment is simple and easy and may shorten and even prevent outbreaks.
We know that most herpes cases are mild, treatable, and very common. Yet, someone who is newly diagnosed with herpes might feel as if they’re a pariah of sorts.
But, you’re most certainly not alone with your diagnosis. (Likely, you are unknowingly surrounded with those in the same boat, whether they are aware of it or not) It’s thought more than 1 in every 6 people, aged 14-49, have this virus.
You likely know many people with herpes in your own social circle. But, according to the CDC, 80 percent of those people have no clue they have it. You are just part of the 1 in 6 that happens to know you have this very common virus.
And we know, herpes tends not to be a topic of light and casual conversations, no. But given the prevalence, maybe it should be.
For whatever reason, herpes is among the most feared STIs despite the fact that other common STIs are high risk for complications. While herpes, on the other hand, might cause little to no symptoms at all.
There are two probable reasons for this:
1. A lacking sexual education system leaves us in the dark when it comes to common sexually transmitted infections and diseases. So, left to our own devices, we get our sexual education from movies and the greater mass media- which can skew reality and induce shame for no reason.
2. The fear might also stem from the fact that herpes is a lifelong virus. But there are proven and easily accessible ways to reduce outbreaks and have a sex life that is both enjoyable and low partner-to-partner transmission risk. Some people with herpes have little to no outbreaks and keep their reoccurrences under control with the help of antiviral medications.
Life beyond this diagnosis is simpler than you might think. We have to keep calm, learn more, and carry on.
While this is not a life-defining diagnosis, it’s best to understand how the virus behaves, how outbreaks might occur, and how to reduce partner-to-partner transmission risks.
Take an afternoon to soak up as much information about the virus as you can. Learn about what to do when an outbreak occurs.
This will help you with the future management of herpes. As well as arm you with knowledge so you can have concise and productive conversations later on.
I know a conversation with exes or your current partner about an STI test result is no fun. Let’s be honest, it’s a difficult one.
But stay calm and fall back on the information you learned in step 1. Knowing your facts about virus prevalence and the treatment options can only help you. Most people find their partners are supportive and understanding.
Over stressing about something can just make it worse for you in the end.
On the other hand, if you keep the perspective that this is just a minor and common viral infection that is manageable and no big deal, then - magically, it’s no big deal.
Your perspective is absolutely everything.
Not only is this important for your internal world and self-esteem.
But most often, people will match your emotions in a situation. So, approach it with self-compassion and understanding and you will likely be met with compassion and understanding.
There are a few options when it comes to HSV1 and HSV2 treatment.
The most prevalent and widely tested medications are acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. It may be suggested by your doctor to keep these medications on hand for any outbreaks that pop up as antiviral medications can help reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
There are also studies that suggest the use of antiviral drugs as a suppressive therapy (once daily, low-dose antiviral medication) may lower recurrences and lower the risks of partner-to-partner transmission.
The CDC states that suppressive therapy can lower reoccurrences by 70-80 percent. Talk to your medical provider about the treatment options that would best work for you.
Here at Strut, we offer free online questionnaire-based consultations with our licensed medical team to see if the antiviral medication Valacyclovir could be a good option for your cold sores or genital herpes.
Valacyclovir may reduce the amount of time an outbreak sticks around and may help reduce the rate of recurrence. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription medication can be shipped directly to your front door. Strut has your back.