Sexual Health 

Herpes: Frequently Asked Questions, and more information

Alexandra Harbushka Jan 29 2020

Herpes: Frequently Asked Questions, and more information

What is Herpes?

Herpes is known as the Herpes Simplex Virus or HSV1 or HSV2. HSV1 is most commonly associated with oral herpes and HSV2 is most common in the genital region. Because it is a virus it means you will have it for the rest of your life. In other words, at this point, there is no cure. Sorry! When the virus is not active it will lie dormant along your nervous system until it wakes up and decides to rise to the surface of your skin and cause an outbreak. Think of it like a volcano, some are active some are dormant and some you just really don't know when they are going to explode. To read more go here

How do I know if I have herpes?

There are a couple of ways to know if you are positive. Firstly, if you have sores on your mouth or in your genital region then I recommend you go get tested immediately. To get diagnosed now go to HerpAlert and use our promo code: lifewithherpes to get 10% off.  

If I’m exposed to herpes how long before it shows up?

Typically when you are exposed, the virus shows up within 2-14 days. Yes, it’s possible for the incubation period to be much longer but typically its with in the first 2 weeks. So if you have a new partner then most likely it's from them.

Can I be herpes positive without having an outbreak?

Yes and no. In order to have herpes show up in your blood test you would have had to come in contact with the virus and be infected. Sometimes people can have really mild outbreaks (I’m so jealous if that’s you) and they can go unnoticed or be mistaken for other things such as ingrown hairs, pimples or a cut from shaving. So it can be a total surprise when test results come back and the results are positive.

What are the signs of genital herpes?

Symptoms can vary from person to person but here are the most common in your genital region are; itchiness, tingling, hot spot, pain when touching, sore, and or open lesion. You can also experience flu like symptoms such as; sore throat, aches and pains, swollen lymph nodes, extreme fatigue and feeling of being run down. For more details you can go here

What are the signs of oral herpes?

Symptoms can vary but most commonly people experience pain on the lips and around the mouth, itching, blisters, flu like symptoms, fever, aches and pains, swollen lymph nodes. Go here for more. 

What is the difference between oral and genital herpes?

There are two types of it, Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV 1) and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV 2). HSV 1 is typically considered oral and HSV 2 is normally considered genital however they are interchangeable. Meaning you can have HSV 1 genitally and HSV 2 orally. To learn more on HSV 1 genitally go here

Is a cold sore, herpes?

Yes, it is. Typically oral is HSV 1. And remember that it's just as contagious as genital.

What sexual ways can herpes be transmitted?

All types of sex. This includes; vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex and any other type of sex that you can come up with.  To read more go here.  And to learn more about sex toys go here

Is it possible to have both HSV 1 and HSV 2?

Unfortunately it’s possible. It can be a combination of any location. Meaning you can have HSV 1 and HSV 2 both genitally or both orally. Or HSV 1 which is typically oral in your genital region or HSV 2 which is typically genital on your mouth.

If I have oral herpes can I get an outbreak genitally?

No, the only way you can get genital herpes is if you expose your genital region to the virus. Just because you have the virus in your system it won’t pop up in other places. So if you have oral herpes you will continue to get oral outbreaks. If you have genital herpes you will continue to get genital outbreaks.

How is it transmitted?

The virus is transmitted skin to skin. When there is an outbreak the virus is most contagious as the open lesions contain fluid that can make it very easy to transmit the virus. However, the virus can also be transmitted without symptoms (I know this is a buzz kill) and this would be considered asymptomatic shedding. During the shedding process the virus rises to the skin without any signs or symptoms and can spread to a non infected person if they come in contact with it. Click here for more information on viral shedding. 

How common is herpes?

It is very common and it’s virtually impossible for anybody to go through life without coming into contact with it. 2 out of 3 people have HSV 1 and 1 out of 6 have HSV2. So statistically this means if you have kissed more than 3 people 2 of them have had oral herpes. And if you have had sex with more than 6 people 1 of them has had genital herpes. There are also more than 100 different types of viruses out there. To learn more about the different viruses go here. And to learn more about who has go here

How do I get tested for herpes?

To get tested, you would need to go to your medical provider and ask for a test. In the United States a herpes test is not included in the STD test, a herpes test needs to specifically be requested. We recommend using HerpAlert for your diagnosis. Use the promo code: lifewithherpes to receive 10% off. Go here to get treated.

Can I have a baby even though I have herpes?

Yes, of course you can. Having herpes does not impact your fertility or a woman's ability to conceive. You can go herehere & here to read more about pregnancy and fertility. Something key to remember that if you do become pregnant you'll want to discuss having genital herpes with your doctor. 

What's the best way to prevent transmission to my partner?

There are 4 best practice way's to prevent transmission to your partner; communicate, use latex protection, the daily antiviral and avoiding sex while you have an outbreak. To read more go here

Learn more?

Episode 85: Life with Herpes w/ Co-Host Alexandra Harbushka
In a very special Podcast Episode, Gaia Morrisette interviews Alexandra Harbushka about her efforts towards spreading awareness about Herpes, via Life With Herpes


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