I lost my virginity and got herpes (maybe)
August 12, 2010 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Yet another herpes post. There's been so many of these lately it's like an ominous sign. My boyfriend has genital herpes. I might have contracted it from him. I have already gone to a doctor and am awaiting test results. Help me/us prepare mentally and emotionally.

My boyfriend of almost five months told me on our second date he has herpes. It must've been extremely difficult for him (he hasn't even told his family). This was before there was any hint of sexual activity. I think that spoke volumes about the kind of man he is and about his feelings/intentions towards me. I thought he was a great guy and was very attracted to him so I told him I wanted us to continue dating. I'm not sure if this simplified or complicated the situation but I was also then a virgin. I knew I wouldn't be ready for piv sex with him anytime soon and so I'd have more time to figure out if the risk of contracting herpes was worth it. In turn, he knew there would be no pressure from me to have sex.

We talk about sex and herpes every now and then. After four months, my affection for him had really grown and I had received the same affection from him. At that point, I was more comfortable with the risk and felt ready to have sex with him. And here comes mistake #1. I never brought those thoughts up and we never discussed becoming sexually active. Before I could figure out when and how best to bring it up, we had spur of the moment sexy time turned into unplanned and unprotected sex. Aaaaand cue mistake #2. We should've had the talk about protection the next day. For some unfathomable reason, I don't know why we didn't even though it came out later in conversation that we both thought about it. Maybe we were busy and kept forgetting to bring it up. Maybe we didn't think we'd be very active at first and would have time to talk about it later. Mistake #2.5. We had unplanned and unprotected sex a couple of more times. MONUMENTAL STUPIDITY. We know. Now here comes the consequences.

I've done a lot of internets research since that second date and know contracting herpes isn't the end of the world. Previous AskMes been helpful in getting me prepared. Give me more! I had a scare after less than two months of dating. We had been messing around (fingering, oral sex etc). Doc said it looked like herpes but it was yeast infection. This time feels different and I might not be so lucky. I got tested the day before my boyfriend was leaving town for a few days and I let him know. Obviously there have been some missed crucial conversations. I don't want that to happen again. What kind of conversation should we be having when he returns? When I get my test results back? If I tested positive? I would greatly appreciate some encouragement over lectures. We're berating ourselves as it is over our irresponsibility. How do we stop? And how do I prevent myself from becoming angry and bitter in the future? I would very much like us to move forward in a positive manner.

Throwaway email herpederp10@gmail.com . Also any directions to counseling resources in Austin, TX would be helpful. I've only been able to find pregnancy and HIV counselors so far.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total)
Okay. It's too bad it happened, but it's good that you've got your thinking cap on now and are taking this seriously. You're already facing reality -- so you can stop berating yourself now. The berating will be of no further service to you.

I've been dating/married to a guy with herpes for more than 18 years. I have never caught it. It may be because I'm immune -- some people are. It may be because we've mostly taken precautions -- but not every single time over those 18 years. If you now have herpes, yes, you will always have to deal with it. It will probably be an annoyance, and it may have consequences later in your life, like if you ever get pregnant. You may get it and never or rarely have outbreaks. But it isn't the end of the world. It is manageable.

You seem like you've already wised up -- stick with this attitude, have those important conversations BEFORE the fact going forward, and you'll be heading in the right direction.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:51 PM on August 12, 2010

In a thread a month or so ago, Saminal had a particularly good comment. I suggest reading it and the other threads you referenced WITH your boyfriend. and BOTH of you go to a Planned Parenthood type establishment. A pregnancy/HIV counselor or place will be able to help or point you in the right direction.
posted by ish__ at 6:54 PM on August 12, 2010

He was honest with you, so there's no betrayal here - he sounds like a decent guy, and you're both equally complicit in the unprotected sex. Don't beat yourself up about it - it happens. It wasn't the best idea, as you know, but people do stupider things all the time.

So, what now? Well, look, herpes sucks, but it's not that huge of a deal. Think of it this way - the worst thing that happens to you with herpes is that the thing that's happening to you now happens again from time to time. And actually, my understanding (and I'm not a doctor and I don't have herpes, so a grain of salt is warranted here), is that the first outbreak is often the worst. So, yeah, you can live with this just fine. Go ahead and get anti-viral therapy if you can, and you can reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

Conversations - if you're positive you need to have a talk about what your plans are going to be for sex in the future. If you want to use a condom every time (and you probably should, even if you're on birth control [you are, right?]), decide that when you're not in the heat of the moment, get him to agree, and keep both of your places stocked with them. Keep in mind, though, that you can still catch it from him even if you use protection.

But even if you test negative, I think you two need to have a talk about how things just keep happening when you get carried away. The best way to stop that is to get on the same page about your expectations about sex before you have it again. That way it's both of your responsibilities to stick to those expectations - it's a lot easier when you both have veto power.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:55 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please, please listen to Dan Savage Podcast episode 195. He has a really good rundown of herpies with a Planned Parenthood official. This really isn't as scary as you believe. It won't kill you, your future and can be suppressed with some attention.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:12 PM on August 12, 2010

Acyclovir is pretty effective at suppressing your first outbreak (and lessening the severity of future outbreaks) if taken within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. IF you caught it (and blood tests are pretty bad at determining whether you did) and IF you get an outbreak, get to a doctor and get a prescription for Acyclovir/Zovirax.

That said - a rather large percentage of sexually-active adults in the US have herpes I/II, so I wouldn't get too freaked out about social stigma. The symptoms can be unpleasant but manageable.
posted by casconed at 9:48 PM on August 12, 2010

Really not that big a deal; people don't even notice oral herpes infections. Plus as I hear from friends after the first year, your immune system suppresses the outbreaks and you don't have to take the anti-virals for the rest of your life.

Bigger deal is other STD risk, so be sure to both get tested for HIV; if you are going to keep having unprotected sex, at least make sure you are not going to get an STD that IS a big deal
posted by zia at 11:29 PM on August 12, 2010

The conversation when he gets back should include:

Protection- should double using some? (hint: almost certainly) If so, which one of you is going to the shops today to buy some? Which one of you (or both?) will be responsible for always carrying a condom or two around all the time so you're prepared when the mood next takes you in an inconvenient place?

Other STIs- does your boyfriend know that he has herpes because of the symptoms, or because he's been tested for a panel of STI's and that's the only positive result? If he hasn't already, he should check for other things he might've caught at the same time.
posted by metaBugs at 5:59 AM on August 13, 2010

from listening to my friends who battle allergies everyday...herpes doesn't seem so bad. you take a pill when you feel a tingle? and be safe as much as you can? and a majority of the people who have it, don't know it so could almost everyone have it? see it as another exercise in being responsible and a good communicator.
posted by UltraD at 8:49 AM on August 13, 2010

What are you going to do if it turns out you do NOT have herpes?

I'm asking because I'm worried for you.

Sharing this disease with your boyfriend is not romantic, it will not deepen your intimacy with each other.

You are young. Probably, you are 100% healthy. That is so precious.

Everyone's advice above applies. And if your tests come back clean, you should re-think why you and your man let one herpes scare become two.

Either way on the test results, perhaps the conversation between you and your BF should include why you both thought it was important to risk your health. Presumably, he should cherish you and not want to put you in that situation.

I'm inviting you (and your man) to think this situation through from all sides.

(From your post, I have to wonder if you are risking pregnancy, too.)

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 10:56 AM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

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