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Laura’s letter to her younger self

Dear Laura,

I know exactly how you’re feeling. You’re 26, and you’ve just found out from the doctor that you have herpes. You’ve just burst out crying in front of the awkward-looking trainee GP. You feel like your whole world is over, you’re damaged goods and no-one will ever want to have sex with you again.  

You’re going to spend the next week in the flat, crying, downing wine and despairing at the terrible injustice – you only had sex with him one time! And you didn’t even really like him!

Well I’m pleased to say that ten years’ later, you’re doing great! Yes, at the beginning it was difficult, and maybe you did avoid some romantic encounters because you felt insecure about having to tell someone you had herpes. But then, about a year later, you met Steve – such a great guy. You waited until you’d been out a few times, and you were about to get near to having sex, and then sort of blurted it out. And he was absolutely fine about it! You ended up dating for almost a year, and then after that you went on to have three more really happy relationships. No tears, no rejection – everyone you told basically shrugged their shoulders and never mentioned it again. 

Married now

Then you met the person that you would end up marrying. You were really nervous, because you knew she was someone special. Spent the whole meal trying to eat your dinner and follow the conversation, with heart pumping at deafening volume. Well that was an anti-climax – again -just a shoulder shrug and ‘oh, I don’t know much about it but I’m not bothered at all’. Cut to 5 years later, and we’re still going strong.

So what I’d love to be able to do for you (and everyone who might be going through something similar) is give you a giant hug and tell you that IT WILL BE OK! You are the person who will be the most worried about things – not your future partners. They will choose you because they fancy you and love you – as you would for others, because why on earth would you not go out with someone because of a skin condition? How ridiculous! And if you do come across someone who judges you on the basis of that skin condition, do you want to waste your time with someone like that? There are so many good ones out there.

Honestly the hardest thing you’ll have to get over are your own feelings of shame and embarrassment – and you’re still working on it (that’s why I’m using a pseudonym here). But there are people like Marian and Nigel trying to break down that stigma, and in time maybe you’ll work up the courage to be 100% open.

But in the meantime dry your tears, and try not to worry too much about the future, because it’s a really really happy one.

Lots of love, you +10 

Xx

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Thrush or herpes?

How should I treat thrush (candida), when I have genital herpes?

Thrush is also known as candidiasis or a yeast infection.

It is widely thought that that using a thrush cream to treat a yeast infection can make a genital herpes outbreak worse. So if you have both at once, it is best to use a pill (oral medication) to get rid of thrush: you can buy fluconazole pills (brand name Difflucan or Canesten) at the chemist or it can be prescribed by your doctor. One dose should be enough.Woman taking a thrush pill

First of all, it may be an idea to make sure that thrush is actually what you have. American studies show that two-thirds of women who buy over-the-counter thrush treatments don’t have a yeast infection at all.

Problems may also be caused by ‘jock itch’ – another itchy rash, often in the groin  Continue reading Thrush or herpes?

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We did oral and regular sex – could I have herpes on my face too?

It is surprising that people rarely catch it on the face as well as on the genitals! When you consider how often we do oral sex and ‘normal sex’ on the same night.

Cartoon woman points at her mouth
Is it a cold sore?

This is a common story/question that we get on the helpline/by email:
“I was diagnosed two months ago with genital herpes. I got it off my partner’s cold sore – yes, it is type 1 – and now I have something on my lip/in my mouth. [Described as a cut on lip, a lump in mouth, or an ulcer on tongue/gum]. Could this be facial herpes too – have I got a cold sore as well?”

The answer is No, that is not going to be a cold sore.

Why? When you get your first symptoms,  Continue reading We did oral and regular sex – could I have herpes on my face too?

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The Organisms That Call Your Body Home

The human body is made up of an ultra-complex system of ever-shifting cells. Everything we experience in life is a creation of the 200 different cell types populating our bodies, never sleeping and always working. Joining those 200 cells types are countless different other organisms, including bacteria and viruses. Many of these coexist peacefully in your body.
Continue reading The Organisms That Call Your Body Home

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Meeting people with herpes

Like a letter in a bottle:

A member asked us about putting a Dates and Mates advert into the magazine: “I would like to meet some new friends male or female who I can trust and talk to… shall I put an ad in?” She added: “I had an invitation to a gathering but felt it was too big a step to take, I wish I had the confidence to do it …”
Continue reading Meeting people with herpes

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Helpline – what they ask

What is it?

It amazes our new helpline volunteers how often a caller phones to describe their symptoms and get the helpliner to say what they have. We cannot do that. There are 24 ‘differential diagnoses’ that a sexual health doctor will be considering when s/he is shown what might be genital herpes.

We don’t list these on our website as we don’t want to encourage self-diagnosis.  After all, they don’t give a medical student a link to a website and say ‘Now you can diagnose sexually shared conditions”!
Continue reading Helpline – what they ask