[Question #737] Terrified I Have Herpes

52 months ago

Last Tuesday I had protected sex with a sex worker. Ever since that moment I’ve been extremely remorseful and panicked that I could have contracted herpes. I have bad anxiety and tend to obsess over things. About 3 or 4 hours after the encounter I noticed a tingling feeling on the right side of my groin. The tingling had been persistent and continued until today, 4 days, when I woke up with phlegm in my throat and sore throat on the right side where most of the phlegm feels like its running down. My glands on that side are also slightly tender. My girlfriend said she has had a slightly sore throat the past week or so, but that hasn’t reassured me at all.


I don't know if this is relevant, but I also bit my tongue really badly the day before I had intercourse. On wednesday or thursday ( I can’t remember exactly) I woke up with a big canker sore where the bite was and another canker sore on my cheek on the same side of my mouth. 


I’m completely terrified that I have contracted herpes. I know I have to wait for any blood tests, and I am mortified that I have suddenly become sick. I can barely eat. I can’t relax.


Could this be my anxiety or do I have a real chance of having contracted something? 

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
52 months ago
Benjamin, I think herpes is really unlikely in this situation.  You used a condom which was great and which makes acquisition far less likely.  Also, herpes symptoms would not show up within a few hours.  You describe a sore throat - were you the giver of oral sex to her?  That's how you would get herpes in your throat, not from intercourse with a condom.  Sometimes a sore throat is just that - a sore throat from a viral or bacterial infection.  The incubation time from infection to genital symptoms with a first infection is 2-10 days with the average being 5.5 days.  You are past the average now, which is great.  And yes to know for certain,you would need to wait on an antibody test.  but if this is your only encounter, I'm not clear that an antibody test is necessary unless you develop symptoms that are more concerning and specific.  Anxiety has a way of getting to our nerves and I think that's far more likely here than a new herpes infection.

Terri
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52 months ago
Thank you for your reply. I read it last night and it was very reassuring. However, just about an hour ago I noticed a very small red bump just at the base of my penis. I can't tell if it's on a hair follicle or just beside it. It feels irritated, doesn't hurt a lot or anything. I'm completely terrified. I'm going to my doctor tomorrow to have him look at it, but I don't how I'm going to handle getting through tonight. I know there's not much you can do over the internet but I don't know how to handle this.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
52 months ago
I think you have to think about the odds here.  First, what are the odds that she has herpes at all?  Second, what are the odds that on this particular day she was shedding virus?  And then what are the odds that she was shedding sufficient virus to infect another person (it takes more than you might think).  And then what the odds that it just so happened that the virus was in an area not covered by a condom?  I mean, when you put it all together, it is just extremely extremely unlikely that you got infected at this encounter.  And quit looking an picking - you can make it look like something it isn't.  You are going to get through the night just fine - remind yourself every time it pops into your head that this whole thing is statistically terribly unlikely.

Terri
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