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Author Topic: herpes concerns
carlyn_101
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I am concerned that I might have genital herpes. I've been experiencing some itching on the right side of my inner labia for the past several weeks (off and on). In one spot, the skin looks a little bit irritated but there haven't been any sores or noticeable blisters. I haven't experienced any pain either. But I'm worried because I don't really know what's causing the irritation. If I stretch the skin of my labia minora, I notice little white things that aren't raised. They look like harmless Fordyce spots but I'm not sure.

I read online that genital herpes is often asymptomatic, or that the first outbreak might just consist or raw/red/irritated skin. And I also read that seventy percent of people experience sickness, fever, and muscle aches around the thighs/buttocks/groin etc within 2 days to 2 weeks of initially being infected with herpes. This worries me because I had protected sex with someone on 6/21/13 and got sick approximately two days later. This sickness consisted of fever, tiredness, and bad diarrhea mostly. Granted, I also took EC around the same time, so it's difficult to say what caused the sickness.

I'm really upset about all of this. I've only had sexual intercourse with two people in my life. The first guy was a virgin (like me) but the second was more of a drunken hookup. And he'd been with more people. When I had sex with the second guy it only happened one time and I didn't notice anything warty or weird about his penis. But it was dark so who knows... And anyway, I guess it's possible to spread herpes even with a condom and even when there's no visible outbreak. And what's worse, the second guy used to jokingly say things like "I hope I don't have herpes" har har. He didn't say things like that before we had sex. So now I'm super freaked out.

I was just hoping that someone could talk me through this. I'm planning to get an STD screening this Saturday at one of Planned Parenthood's walk-in days. Do you think a genital herpes test would be accurate if I was exposed to the virus on 6/21/13? I know that sometimes there's a specific time frame.

I've been so upset all day about the possibility that my whole life could change if I tested posited for herpes. I'm absolutely terrified. The idea makes me curl up in a hole and stop living [Frown]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Really, any time is the right time to get screened, especially if you've been sexually active in the past and have yet to get screened. If you have yet to have a full screening for all STIs you can be tested for, I'd suggest now sounds like a great time to start doing that, okay?

Herpes tests are a bit tricky, especially without an active sore, but your healthcare provider can tell you all about that when you go in.

Emotionally, I hear you feeling very scared, and it also sounds like you're in a spot where STI risks that are possible for any of us anytime we're sexual with others, especially if and when we don't use safer sex practices, but even when we do, are now feeling more real to you than they have before. It also sounds like some myths you've had in your head about STIs -- like that we can tell someone's status by looking -- are kind of showing themselves up to you as myths now.

Does that all sound about right? If so, how can we help you with those feelings?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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carlyn_101
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Yes that sounds about right. I feel like I might be overreacting but I don't know. I really wish I had an answer to all of this. Does it sound like I have something? I know you can't say for sure. I've been tested before so after being with my first sexual partner, so this won't be the first time. I seriously can't control my anxiety about this possibility.
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Molias
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Hi carlyn,

It sounds like this is really stressing you out right now; it might help to take a look at this article and see if any of it sounds like stuff you could do to get a handle on your anxiety while you're waiting for your appointment: Self-Care a la Carte

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carlyn_101
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Thanks. I'm taking the list's advice about not Googling obsessively. That's definitely something I do when worried or afraid about something health related. I took a shower. I'm trying to talk with friends online. I'm going to get a cup of tea when I'm finished typing this. Self-care is really important and usually I'm able to practice it as long as my stressor isn't health related. I get so scared about things like that.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Want to talk about what you feel scared about here to help you unpack it?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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carlyn_101
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I feel scared that I have herpes and that it will change my life, for the worse, forever. I'm terrified that I won't be able to have a (reasonably) carefree sexual experience ever again. I'm afraid that I'll have to keep it a secret and risk disgust/fear from love interests. I know I'm getting way ahead of myself with all of this based on what's actually happening. I don't know. I'd probably feel suicidal if I got that diagnosis.
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Okay.

Certainly, if you're someone with suicidal ideation, that's something to address, period. If you want to know where to find that kind of help, we'd be happy to help you find it.

If you're not, then chances are that no, you won't suddenly become so because of herpes. And realistically, of the

You know, a lot of public health educators and services basically tell people they should assume everyone has herpes in their choices and practices, because ultimately, so very many people do that the chance of NOT being exposed in a lifetime is nearly impossible. More people have a herpes virus than people who don't. So, I'd agree with that approach. I understand that now you're having a lightbulb moment around some of this, one that's changing how you view the level of sexual freedom you -- we all -- have, and that can be a rude awakening when it is one, for sure.

But in the event you did contract Herpes, you do still get to have a sex life and a love life, and you do still get to have those and be honest with partners. Really.

These two pieces might be good for you to read right now:
• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/body/this_is_about_genital_herpes
• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/i_feel_dirty_and_irresponsible_because_of_genital_herpes (For the record, I got a follow-up reply from that person some months later who feels very differently now, and for whom things were going very well)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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carlyn_101
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Thanks. I'll give those a read. Part of your response seems to have been cut off, so I wanted to follow up about that: "And realistically, of the"
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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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So sorry about that!

I was going to say that realistically, of the millions of people with Herpes in the world, most learn to live with that illness, just like most people with all illnesses that aren't terminal do.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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