I was 19 when I was diagnosed with Herpes. It was three years ago. In my case me and my boyfriend had done everything correctly… we were double dutch – he used condoms and I was on the pill. We didn’t even kiss when he had a cold sore.
But of course there’s always what me and boyfriend have learnt to call ‘the small print’: about five days a year you can be infectious due to what is called ‘viral shedding‘ without showing symptoms. So I guess it must have been that which caused me to contract Herpes.
It started over the weekend. I mean, I can sometimes be allergic to biological washing powder, so I thought the itching could be down to that. But then there were bumps. Both me and my boyfriend have had enough sexual education to guess what it was immediately: to check we pulled dup some pictures on the internet and it was pretty well identical.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me when the doctor confirmed it, but I still had to bite back the tears. Even though I love my boyfriend and know he loves me I still had to battle the feelings that society labels you with: worthlessness, feelings of being dirty, being used and being a slut. Bearing in mind that my boyfriend was only the second guy I’ve ever slept with, most of these feelings were unjustified, but it doesn’t stop you feeling them.
The first outbreak was well. I was living with my boyfriend at the time, so he went through it all with me, and to his credit was great support. He was mortified that he was the cause of my pain, and I think he felt almost as miserable as me. When I saw him crying that helped me pull myself together. The pain was almost intolerable, the worst I have ever been subject to. I couldn’t walk, going to the toilet was like pouring acid over myself, and applying the gel the doctor had given me on my broken skin was even worse. To cap it all I had a fever and was delirious for a night, during which I think my boyfriend was in hell.
But as all things do, eventually it went away. Interestingly enough, my test for Herpes turned out negative, causing a few weeks of panic. After all, it is important to remember that genital blisters can be a symptom of intestinal cancer. But thankfully (hah!) I had another outbreak a month later and that test turned out positive. I doubt anyone has been so grateful to be diagnosed with a sexual disease!
Nowadays, I haven’t had an outbreak for ages. I’ve gone on the contraceptive injection to stop my periods, which seems to be one trigger point, and I take Lysine. My boyfriend and I have stopped using condoms and there has been no loss of trust. Although I expected Herpes to damage our relationship, we seemed to have weathered it without much damage. When I contemplate the future, and know I’ll have to enter another relationship and broach the whole subject with someone, it does seem intimidating. But in the end, I know that anyone who has issue with me, and Herpes is now a part of me, is not worth being with. –Zhan