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Things you won’t learn in school: Herpes Edition
1. Cold Sores aren’t ‘like’ herpes. They are herpes.
- Oral Herpes or Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is commonly known as Cold Sores because it tends to present when someone’s immune system is compromised by a virus. It has nothing to do with having a cold. It’s herpes, plain and simple.
2. Oral Herpes, HSV1, is transmittable Genitally.
- That’s right, if you have Oral Herpes and engage in oral sex with your partner you can give them HSV1 genitally. This is a far more common problem than I believe there is even documentation for, primarily because Oral Herpes is viewed as ‘No Big Deal’. Oral Herpes IS herpes and should be treated accordingly. Don’t engage in oral sex while you’re having an expression (aka sore or outbreak). Make sure your partner KNOWS you have Oral Herpes so they can be aware of their bodies and act accordingly.
3. Condoms do NOT protect you from Herpes, HSV.
- Yep, I know. It’s terrifying, but true. Herpes is highly transmittable if you are having an outbreak as it transmits through skin contact. Though condoms do help a lot, they are not infallible. Your biggest weapon when it comes to sexual safety is open dialogue with all of your sexual partners, oral, anal, vaginal and otherwise (remember, HSV1 is typically transmitted while kissing). Condoms still are highly effective against HIV and other STI’s when used properly however, so don’t dismiss them.
4. Herpes hurts. A lot.
- I know more than a few people who have had Genital Herpes outbreaks so bad that they wind up in the hospital on Vicodin. It’s something I never learned until one of my close friends got it and I think it’s one of the most important things to know, not just so you’re aware of what’s going on if you think you may have been exposed, but so you can empathize with those you know who may have it and be motivated to discuss it with your future partner.
5. Herpes, HSV, can only be tested effectively while you’re having an outbreak.
- The antibodies created for genital herpes and oral herpes are virtually the same so blood tests at best can only determine exposure and even the best can only give you about a 50/50 accuracy. The best way to know if you’ve been exposed is to get to a doctor or clinic as soon as possible.
6. Men don’t always have noticeable symptoms.
- Guys bodies don’t typically give symptoms for a whole slew of sexual ailments, so if they have something they don’t always know and can carry it and pass it on without meaning to. Girls can carry it too without knowing, but it’s more common in males.
7. You can have a happy healthy sex life with HSV1 AND HSV2 (genital herpes).
- As long as you’re safe honest and self aware it’s totally possible. Herpes, like most viruses, attacks when your immune system is low so eating well, supplementing your diet with vitamins, getting sleep, sunshine and exercise is important. Abstaining from sex when you are having an expression helps, as well, but keeping your partner in the loop is the biggest way to have an active sex life without shame or fear of transmitting.
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