[Question #1818] Herpes: Looking for statistics

44 months ago

I am female and four months ago, I had sex with a man who I later found out to be extremely promiscuous (I discovered he was a practicing “pick up artist”).


I ended it and had an STD check which came out fine, but I still have fears for my health because herpes cannot be tested in these checks.


We had sex 16 times. This included an instance where the condom broke and under a minute of unprotected penetration (the latter occurred now five months ago). We also had unprotected oral sex, given and received. He had no visible sores or bumps on his genitals.


I am fearful that I could have herpes or HPV, as these both have a dormancy period. I’ve read that herpes can show up months, years or decades later.


I feel helpless just waiting for some disease inside me to rear its head at any moment from now until I die.


Every time I feel an itch or see a pin-sized dot, I start to panic. I’ve read 80% of those who have herpes have mild symptoms, so maybe I’m in that camp.


I can’t get clear statistics. In your experience, what is the likelihood that someone might discover herpes 4+ months on? I’d like to know what percentage of women have an outbreak after the typical 1-2 week exposure-to-outbreak timeframe? Thank you.


Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
Well, that's a difficult question actually.  About 80% of those infected with HSV 2 don't know they are infected.  Yes, many of those have mild symptoms or they confuse their symptoms with some other condition, or, if they have HSV 1 already, may have no symptoms.  IF people are going to have a recognized outbreak, it will happen within 2-10 days.  I wish I could tell you an easy and accurate way to know if you have herpes or not, but testing isn't perfect - it's not terrible.
Your contact without a condom for a very limited time doesn't present a significant risk for acquisition of herpes.  And we don't know either if he even has herpes, right?
Herpes testing can certainly be done in most US locations - where are you?

Terri
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44 months ago
He says he's never had an outbreak and had an STD test a few months after we were together and it came back clear...but these tests don't test for herpes. I'm located in Canada and can pay for a special test...is IGG the way to go?

A few questions:

  • So IF someone is going to have a recognized outbreak, it will ALWAYS occur in 2-10 days after exposure? Does this mean then, that if I have it, I am an asymptomatic carrier seeing it is five months later and I have not had an outbreak? I've heard stories of people getting their first outbreak 20 years into a monogamous marriage.
  • I've checked myself with a mirror every day since then. The most I've seen is the odd dot on my skin the size of a pinhead which disappears within a day. No other symptoms. Could that be herpes or would it be more obvious?
  • I grew up in a family who all had oral cold sores, but I've have never had one. Because of this, it is likely I have HSV-1, but am someone who does not "display." So you are saying that makes me less likely to have symptoms for HSV-2? Wondering if this would skew IGG tests...
  • Finally, besides using condoms and picking partners carefully, is there anything else I can do to lower my odds in the future? For example, washing up after sex? Lubrication? I'd like to take every precaution.
Thank you Terri!


Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
Yes, the IgG is definitely the place to start. 
I can't apply the term ALWAYS to anything about herpes really, but IF people are going to have an outbreak with a new herpes infection, they most always have that outbreak within 2-10 of exposure, yes.  Yes if you test positive above 3.5 on the index value, and have had no symptoms, then you have this asymptomatically..
Nothing herpetic would go away within a day from the start, no.  It takes longer than that. 
An HSV 1 positive test would not skew the IgG for HSV 2 but it would make you less likely to be symptomatic with newly acquired infection.
We don't know if washing the genitals after sex helps but it doesn't hurt.  I'm not at all clear that avoid potential partners because they have herpes is a wise move but if it really worries then I guess it is the right move for YOU.  There are some incredible partners out there with herpes

Terri
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