These herpes myths will surprise you. I know they sure did for me.
The reason why there’s a stigma against herpes is because of all the myths out there. We say that someone was irresponsible and that's why they have herpes. We say that people were promiscuous and that’s why they have herpes. We think that condoms will protect you from getting herpes and so on.
Really what this all boils down to is the lack of education about herpes and the snickering that continues about herpes and STI’s.
The truth is that 84% of people have herpes. You can’t say that 84% of the population were irresponsible or promiscuous or that their sex life is over. The truth is that we as humans get herpes by enjoying life and by spending time with other people. You don’t have to have sex to get herpes and you really can’t tell who has it.
I want to break down the 10 most common myths that are associated with herpes. If you have herpes you should keep reading and if you don’t have herpes you should keep reading also. Chances are there’s someone out there you love and care about who has it.
This is not true. You actually have to ask for a herpes test. Other STI’s like chlamydia and gonorrhea and HIV are included but not herpes. There are many different theories and reasons for this. Some doctors feel that the aftermath of knowing you have herpes is far worse than the actual outbreak. Others feel that it’s so common so why test. Regardless, you have to speak up and ask for the test.
This idea of being promiscuous or a slut or sleeping around really needs to be put to rest. I mean yes the more people you come in contact with the more exposure you have to the virus. However, that thought or stigma does not apply to everyone with the herpes virus. Most of the people I talk to who have herpes got it from a committed relationship. Most of the time the person with herpes did not know they had herpes and unknowingly passed it to their partner.
This particular one really erks me. Herpes is herpes! HSV 1 is herpes and HSV 2 is herpes. There is no good herpes or bad herpes. You did not do something right or wrong. HSV 1 is typically oral herpes however HSV 1 is becoming really common in the genial region. What this means is the majority of people with oral herpes think they’re different or put in a better category because they don’t have the “bad herpes”. This is total BS!
The good news and bad news about viruses is that they are in your body for life. So in some cases this is great, like with a cold or the flu. In other cases this is annoying like with herpes. So taking an antiviral will not “cure you” or get rid of herpes for good. What it does is the antiviral works really well at keeping the virus dormant in your body and prevents outbreaks as well as lesses the chance of transmission. I talk more about antivirals here. So at the end of the day you’ll have this virus for the rest of your life and you will be contagious when the virus is active.
This is a big one and most of us think this when we’re diagnosed. It’s totally not true and you can absolutly have sex again and be in a loving relationship. Herpes has nothing to do with it. Having herpes does require you to discuss your diagnosis with a partner and it might require some extra protection or communication but that’s it.
This is always what we think and having a conversation with your partner is crucial. Here’s the deal, typical transmission occurs within 2 weeks however that’s not always the case. You can become infected with the herpes virus and it can lay dormant in your body for weeks, months or even years. So in this situation, your partner or spouse could have come into contact with it years ago and it just now it popping up.
I’m all about using condoms as protection so I’m not discouraging you from using them. But a condom only covers a portion of a man’s genital area and during sex there’s more square feet that’s coming into contact. You know what I mean? Also, we don’t always use the condom during the entire sexual experience. There’s foreplay where there’s not a condom used and also oral sex where condoms are typically not used. Basically what I’m saying is there’s lots of opportunities for skin to skin contact and herpes to infect a partner.
You can not tell if someone has herpes. It’s not like a look or a classification or a smell or anything for that matter. The only way you’d be able to tell is if they had an outbreak happening however even with that it might look different than what you’re thinking or be in a funny spot where you can’t really see it. So in other words, doing body check before you have sex doesn’t work. The only way to know is if the person is diagnosed by a doctor.
This was what we originally thought back in the day when it came to herpes. However, now that we’ve done so much more research on the virus and have a better understanding we know that there’s this thing called viral shedding. When this occurs we’re contagious and can transmit herpes to a partner. The catch is we don’t know when the virus is shedding because there is no sign or symptom of the virus. I talk more about viral shedding here if you want to know more.
This is another huge myth out there and one of the reasons why herpes is being transmitted so often. The majority of people with herpes are asymptomatic which means that they don’t get outbreaks. Lucky them right!?!? But here’s the catch, they’re still herpes positive and can still transmit the virus to a partner. Back to the viral shedding thing. The other downside to this is that if you don’t have outbreaks then you’re probably not getting tested and don’t know you have it. So you’re unknowingly exposing your partner to herpes.
So as you can see there’s tons of myths out there that we all play into or believe what we want to believe becase we it helps our situation. It’s so easy to believe that if you always use a condom then you won’t get herpes or it’s easy to put yourself in a situation of not finding a partner because you have herpes and think that nobody will want you. It requires you to educate yourself on the herpes virus and have conversations with your partners.
Oh yea, remember to subscribe to the Life With Herpes newsletter and get The 5 things I wished I knew before I was diagnosed with herpes sent directly to your inbox + weekly updates.
Just in case…
Originally posted: https://www.lifewithherpes.com/blog/33566-top-10-herpes-myths-busted
Cover photo by freepik
Based on what others are reading
Health In Vitro, Mar 05