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My Girlfriend has Herpes

Hello all,

I have been reading through all of your posts and find everything to be rather helpful, so I would like to share my story as to shed some background on my question.

I have been with a lovely woman whom I met 8 months ago. I have never met a woman who cares about me like her, completely and unconditionally. She confessed to me that she had oral herpes 4 months into our relationship. She had only kept this from me because she didn't see oral herpes as such a big deal, until I had mentioned it in a conversation to her that same evening. She had told me she thought she got it from her host family that she baby sits, as the children, and both parents, have this. Since then I have had the upmost trouble becoming close with her, and developing the feelings I know I want to have for her. Kissing her has become an issue for me, mentally I do not show my discomfort physically or share it with her. I know my issue is only this. She has had one outbreak since I have been with her and we both abstained from kissing until the sore was completely healed. She is also on preventive medication which reduces her percentage of shedding.

My question is this: I see myself spending many years with this woman, and I know that. But I am having trouble continuing and developing emotionally because of the herpes that she has, which is always on my mind. Do any of you, or do any of you know of anyone, who has, or is in, a long term relationship, or marriage, where one spouse has oral herpes, and has not transmitted to the other?

I am not a shallow person, I educated myself well on herpes, and that has not changed my opinion of her in anyway. But it is complicating me on an emotional level.

Please share your stories, I would like to know. I cannot find any examples of my question on the internet and the community here seem very supportive, mature, and informative.


  • edited January 3
    In your specific case, it might be worthwhile to get yourself tested (IgG type specific blood test) for HSV1 and HSV2. It is not something I would normally recommend, but given your anxiety level about contracting HSV1, it could be worthwhile for you to know if you are even vulnerable to doing so. If you already carry HSV1 in any location *or* HSV2, you would be largely protected from contracting oral HSV1.

    Bear in mind most people contract HSV1 during the course of a lifetime, many during childhood. Before people become sexual, it is typically contracted orally. After becoming sexual, it is typically contracted orally or genitally. Some people who contract it genitally as adults wish they had contracted it orally instead as there is lesser stigma associated with cold sores. On the other hand, an oral HSV1 infection sheds much more frequently than a genital HSV1 infection. And it does not protect against genital HSV2, so contracting genital herpes would still be possible, though they would be largely protected from contracting genital HSV1. Outside of initial outbreaks which can range from unnoticeable to very painful, most people tolerate oral HSV1 well and either have no symptoms or mild symptoms. For those with more bothersome or frequent symptoms, and for those with painful primary outbreaks, antivirals are usually helpful.

    After further education and perhaps testing, if you find you continue to have this level of anxiety or avoid intimacy with this woman, I would suggest moving on and considering this a simple incompatibility issue. Each of you deserves to be with someone who is comfortable being intimate and affectionate with you.
  • I would definitely recommend getting yourself tested for herpes before you get too concerned about contracting from your girlfriend, as it is possible to have it and not know yourself.
    If you end up showing negative results, you can ask her to take suppression medicine (valacyclovir, or equivalent), just make sure you approach the subject delicately. You don't want to plant negative feelings about the condition into your relationship, a simple few words of reassurance go a long way on this topic.

    You deserve to feel confident and secure about intimacy. You shouldn't let your feelings of reservation about things fester into resentment.

    Congratulations on finding someone you genuinely care about. Seek comfortability and security in your relationship!
  • Yes I have gotten tested and I get tested every 5 months as per recommendation, as it takes 5 months to show in the blood. She is on the medication, although I am happy that you two responded my initial question still goes un-answered.

    I am looking to see if anyone on here has experienced the following:

    Do any of you, or do any of you know of anyone, who has, or is in, a long term relationship, or marriage, where one spouse has oral herpes, and has not transmitted to the other?

    Please I am looking for stories and experiences.

  • Hi!
    Im not trying to minimize your concerns, but this is the first time I have ever seen anyone be so concerned about cold sores. Here is my story, I have gotten cold sores (or fever blisters as we called them here) since I was a kid. I spent my entire life never feeling I needed to share that with anyone. If I got a fever blister, brought on by either way too much sun, or way too much stress, I just didn't kiss anyone. I am 50, have had numerous boyfriends and have been married twice now. My first husband, married to him for 15 years, never got fever blisters, ever. My second husband, who I was with for 7 years, also never came down with them. And he wasn't exactly the healthiest person either. A total non issue.
    It was just like if I had some sort of cold,or illness, I wouldn't kiss anyone until it was gone, so that person wouldn't catch my cold. Same applies with fever blisters.

    Honestly , there are many more things to be worried about contracting than oral herpes. It is only an issue if you have pre determined you are going to make it one. Which is what it kind of sounds like you might be doing :( .

    And additionally, if I ever feel like I have one that wants to make an appearance, (maybe once a year??) I take acyclovir tablets right away, and it never surfaces.
    I hope you don't worry yourself so much about this! :) You do realize that it is estimated that 2/3rds of the world population has oral herpes right? If you end up getting it, I promise you it is far from the being the worst thing you can get in your life. I would be more embarrassed by a big pimple on my nose, or a mole growing above my eye! :)
  • edited January 7
    @powerhouse3248 I can't provide a specific anecdote, but I can tell you that I somehow managed to never contract HSV1, even though statistics would indicate it is likely at least 2/3 of my partners over the course of my life have had it, and it's unlikely many (if any) of them were taking antivirals.

    Having said that, almost everyone will contract HSV1 at some point, either orally or genitally, mostly with the exception of those who first contract HSV2 which largely protects against HSV1. You may want to take a look at this chart to understand how very common HSV is (93% of people in their 40s infected; 95% in their 50s): http://projectaccept.org/who-gets-hsv/

    The fact that your girlfriend is taking antivirals and has very infrequent outbreaks would place her in a lower risk category for transmitting oral herpes than most people you will encounter. However, if her known HSV status is causing you anxiety that is interfering with intimacy and you expect that will not change, you may be better off either abstaining, finding a partner who has recently tested HSV-, or simply being with a partner who does not know her status if you are more comfortable with that. For some people, it is the awareness of risk that triggers anxiety rather than the risk itself.
  • edited January 13
    @powerhouse3248, I was with my ex-husband for 16 years and he never got HSV from me. I have both strains, and when when I was diagnosed after our divorce, I told him about it and he later tested negative for both. So I had been carrying both strains for 18-25 years with absolutely no idea. I know my HSV2 is genital, but since I’ve never had a cold sore in my life (I’m 44), I don’t know for sure where the HSV1 is. What I do know is that statistically speaking, it’s far more likely that I have oral HSV1. I have no idea why my ex didn’t get either strain from me over 16 years. It just is what it is.

    Oral HSV1 is something that the MAJORITY of adults carry, and only 1/3 of those ever have a cold sore. Think of every woman you’ve kissed. Every woman who has performed oral sex on you. The majority of them have HSV1. Now think about breaking it off with this woman and dating new people. The majority of them have HSV1 too. I’m not trying to say that your worry or concerns are not valid, only that a little perspective might be of help.
  • powerhouse, I was in a relationship with a woman for over 10 years that has hsv1. She's had it since childhood and would sometimes get horrific break outs when she didn't take her meds. During breakouts, no kissing on the lips and no oral. No problems. I am hsv1 negative. I know someone else in the same boat with a similar story. Fast forward two years: My girlfriend of 5 months, gives me hsv2 and my first outbreak is just about cleared up. Uhhhhhh.
  • Thank you, everyone, all these examples are fantastic and I appreciate all of them. I love the community on this forum; both very supportive and informative. These stories have helped me feel better about this issue. It was just something I was raised to think was a terrible occurrence, and I never knew of anyone really who had it. The only person I first knew of was in elementary school, ages ago, and kids made fun of her terribly, calling her all sorts of vicious names. I think my fears are raised from preconceptions of the virus. But these stories of long relationships, playing it safe, and not contracting are very useful. Thank you. If anyone else has more to add, or stories please feel free for future readers, like myself. It may prove useful.
  • @powerhouse3248 Dude you have literally nothing to worry about. I grew up getting the occasional cold sore too and never once in my life passed it on to someone else. I think I just caught it from my childhood best friend because kids are stupid and share drinks and food even when they have cold sores, but adults are smarter than that so once you are an adult with cold sores, the likelihood of you spreading it to others is basically zero. You would have to consciously pass it to someone, as in make-out with them while there is an erupting blister on your face (which I'm sure you guys won't be doing anyway). As long as she doesn't rub her cold sores on you while she has one, you're totally fine. I myself had two boyfriends (one for 3 years, the other 1 year) and would get the occasional cold sore, but I just wouldn't make-out with them when I had one. And trust me, kissing someone when you have a cold sore is pretty painful and unappealing. I remember not even wanting to kiss my boyfriend while I had them because it's just unpleasant, so I doubt your girlfriend will too. But with that said, I have definitely kissed my ex several times with slight cold sores, or sometimes even worse cold sores with my medication cream on it, and he still never got anything! And if you need stats to calm you down, 90% of Americans will contract oral herpes by the time they are 50 years old (and 80-90% of those infected, whether oral or genital, never show symptoms anyway and therefore never even know they have it), it's a virus that depends on humans to survive, so it's not going anywhere anytime soon. We're human, not angels, carrying viruses is just another nuisance we have to deal with if we want the privilege of living on this planet. Basically what I'm trying to say is, anyone around you could have herpes and you wouldn't even know it. You yourself can already have it, maybe from childhood, could be laying dormant in your body right now. But guess what? It's nothing to freak out about. You're human, your girlfriend is human, any other girl you date could have that dormant virus also because she will also be human. If you like this girl, keep her. It's hard to find people we truly connect with in life. So please don't judge another human being for being "slightly less" than what you believe you are. The majority of our planet has herpes anyway (67%). So technically, we are the majority, not you (haha). So let that sink in and remember that we are all human beings, your paranoia 100% stems from the traumatic childhood experience you observed that poor girl going through. Social stigma scares the crap out of people more than anything. So please realize what you are being blinded by right now is the social stigma. I'm sorry you had to grow up being terrified of cold sores, because I don't know what that's like. When I had them as a kid, no one made fun of me so I just embraced them I guess, never thought twice about it. It's all about past experiences. You have to let go of all these stupid preconceptions kids from your childhood put into your head, educate yourself on the reality of things now that you are an adult, and move on with life.
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