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Sex ed - can someone educate me please regarding herpes?

(67 Posts)
educatemeplease Mon 29-Jul-13 17:06:08

I have to admit I am appalled by some of the things I don't know regarding sex and STIs etc. I had always thought that condoms protected you from everything (provided they didn't break obviously) but have only found out in the last few years that this isn't the case at all and that you can get herpes even using a condom that doesn't split. I am 31 ffs, how did I not know this?

I have also just realised that the tests you get for STIs on the NHS don't actually test for herpes. I was under the impression that this was because it couldn't be tested for but have since found out that this is not the case at all. Can anyone tell me why this test is not done as a matter of course? I'd have thought it was one of the most important ones?

Also, can anyone tell me the likelihood of getting herpes from sex if using condoms? Has anyone actually "caught" it even though they used condoms? I don't have any symptoms or anything but have just met a new partner and want to protect myself (he has just come back from travelling and by the sounds of things had unprotected sex with 2 or 3 girls while away).

heyday Wed 11-Mar-15 21:40:26

I caught herpes when a teenager from a guy that a) I didn't sleep with or b) did not have any cold sores. To me it has caused untold misery. I mainly get huge breakouts on my bum or the back of the leg. It is insanely itchy, is very painful and the pain travels down the nerve in my leg. Over the years I have had outbreak after outbreak which completely wrecked my immune system. It is very likely to be the cause of me also developing M.E (chronic fatigue syndrome). I think there have been legal cases (possibly in Scotland???? ) whereby people have tried to prosecute partners who have infected them with herpes because they didn't tell them, before having sex, that they became infected. Herpes (both types 1 and type 2) have so much stigma attached to them, partly I presume because it is so contagious and secondly, because there is no cure. There are worse things in life that one can acquire but I personally can never agree that having herpes is no big deal. Even now I have to be very careful when I share a bed with my little grandson incase any of the active virus is shedding from my skin, (even before a full on outbreak) as I would be devastated if he caught it from me.
You can't always really tell if someone is infected as many people have it so mildly that they barely notice it. All you can do really is to be careful and sensible about your sexual health but at the end of the day, every relationship involves some risk. As the song goes, 'Dont worry. Be happy'.

DaygloYellowLady Tue 10-Mar-15 12:57:14

About 4/5 people carry the virus but only a small minority of those will ever show symptoms. Thats why the blood test isn't offered on the NHS - you don't need treatment if its just sitting there doing nowt and as that will be the case for the majority of partners you pass it on to the blood test is pretty useless. It is tested more commonly in countries where you pay for health care - you can make of that what you will.
Neonatal herpes is horrible but
mercifully very rare, which is probably due to so many mothers having HSV antibodies to pass on to their newborns. Its only a risk if you've not had time to produce antibodies before labour.
Lastly, a lot of the hysteria about herpes was whipped up as part of a 1970s advertising campaign for a treatment.

Usually, Herpes are more dangerous to babies if the mother never had it and just gotten it during pregnancy. Even cold sores on the mouth. Before that, the mother provide to antibodies to the baby that give them a slight protection. This also goes if they never had cold sore until after birth too (the baby have very little protection because the mother had no exposure)

Anderson978 Mon 09-Mar-15 19:16:32

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Auntfini Wed 31-Jul-13 12:56:39

babay? baby

Auntfini Wed 31-Jul-13 12:56:10

But I wasn't talking about HSV on the eyes or HSV around a young babay. I was just saying that herpes does not affect my life at all, and that you should be more concerned about using a condom so you don't get other STIs

whatshallwedo Wed 31-Jul-13 12:31:21

Also I get them on my eyelid so if dd caught them the chances are she would touch her eyes as she is too young to understand and she could lose her vision. So to some people they might not be a big deal but to others who know the different ways in which they can affect you they are a massive deal to be avoided at all costs.

whatshallwedo Wed 31-Jul-13 12:28:55

Bogeyface I totally agree with you. I suffer from coldsores and am so so careful around my baby if I have one as I understand the risk to her.

I go out of my way to tie my hair up (short style but not short enough), wash my hands constantly and never touch my mouth as I would hate to be responsible for passing it onto someone else.

Bogeyface Wed 31-Jul-13 11:28:22

I didnt say that anyone who has it should be treated like a leper but it CAN be very dangerous in that specific situation. To say "it is no big deal" is ridiculous and yes, foolish.

Auntfini Wed 31-Jul-13 10:10:13

Veryconfused, thanks. It's always the way on threads about this that those of us who have it know how little of an issue it really is, but people who don't act like it's the most terrible thing ever.

Bogeyface don't talk bollocks. I have hsv1 and I have given birth. The midwives certainly didn't think that it was a big deal. The only time herpes infection is of significant risk to pregnancy is if you contract it during pregnancy, or if you have an active sore while giving birth. The risks are very small and also easily managed. So who are you to call anyone a fool?

veryconfusedandabitangrytoo Wed 31-Jul-13 09:39:35

Auntfini :-(

Not everybody feels like that. After my Herpes scare I learned so much that I now go out of my way to butt in if anyone is talking about Herpes and put them right! I am sure everyone thinks I have it because of that! and you know what? I dont care :-) its a minor skin disease. Its nothing. It doesnt matter.

veryconfusedandabitangrytoo Wed 31-Jul-13 09:37:13

Bogeyface lots of things are dangerous to newborns - a bout of thrush can be, or in fact any infection in that area. That doesnt mean that Herpes is some major terrible thing!

And saying such is frankly offensive to anyone who has this minor skin infection.

How would you feel if your child had eczema (which is generally worse than the Herpes virus) and everyone talked about him/her like he was some sort of leapor?

NightScentedStock Wed 31-Jul-13 09:32:27

Vaginal delivery is very low risk if you have a recurrent hsv flare up, and so it is generally the delivery aimed for in this situation in the uk. Caesarian section is not routinely recommended. It is only if you have caught the virus in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy that c section is recommended, and this may not provide complete protection for the newborn.

I have had 2 vaginal deliveries with hsv, and I do not consider myself a fool for thinking it pretty safe to do so. As i said upthread, I asked the advice of my gynae dr, who also happens to be an expert in STDs, and he reassured me that it was safe to deliver vaginally. I think it is a shame that this isn't more widely known. I don't believe for a second that I was misinformed by the several health professionals I spoke to about it. I am generally a very risk averse person, but took the HCPs at their word. I was also an HCP until I had DCs.

educatemeplease Tue 30-Jul-13 23:25:09

Bogeyface - he doesn't love me and I don't love him. The last time I was in love was over a decade ago. I have needs like everyone else though!

And surely the birth scenario is only an issue for those wishing to have children or more children some day. Yes it's serious but it can be got around with a c-section in the unlikely event that a woman has a flare up immediately prior to giving birth. Noone wants herpes but as Auntfini says plenty of people do get it without doing anything wrong - it does seem very sad that there is still such stigma attached to it.

Auntfini Tue 30-Jul-13 23:12:03

Well bogey I'm not a fool thank you! That has really wound me up now.

Of course an active herpes infection is dangerous if you're giving birth, like an active cold sore is dangerous to newborns. But other than that very specific scenario, if is not a big deal.

Some of us can't help that we've got it you know! Perhaps we should all sit at home feeling ashamed and worrying about our lives. Oh god, I've got what most other peoe have on their faces on my fanny. I should worry about it constantly, just like people with cold sores do. Oh... Wait...

Bogeyface Tue 30-Jul-13 22:22:41

OP never sleep with him "anyway" because you are frightened you might lose him if you dont!! Remember what they used to say when you were 16? If he loves you, he will wait. If he wont wait then he doesnt love you.

Bogeyface Tue 30-Jul-13 22:21:02

Anyone who says that Herpes is not that big a deal clearly doesnt know what could happen to a baby born to a mother who has an active infection.

Babies can and do die when they are born via the birth canal to mothers with an active infection.

It IS a big deal and only a fool would say otherwise.

educatemeplease Tue 30-Jul-13 22:16:08

ToTheTeeth - I'm not convinced he has, I've no reason to think he does, I'm just a stresser.

ToTheTeeth Tue 30-Jul-13 21:54:21

Has he got any Herpe symptoms? I'm confused why you seem so convinced he's got it?

educatemeplease Tue 30-Jul-13 21:52:11

Me and new guy had a bit of a chat and actually I don't think he did have unprotected sex while abroad. Something he said made me think he did but he didn't actually say he had. Because I thought he did though I asked him if he'd been tested since he got back and suggested we delay sex until then. He said he hadn't been tested as he hadn't had unprotected sex with anyone since a girlfriend a long time ago but thought it was a sensible idea and said he would go any way.

But none of that will stop herpes - still worries me a bit to be honest although I am a bit less worried about some things thanks to some of your posts. He is just so lovely though (looks and personality) and I am getting nowhere on with my quest to find an actual boyfriend or husband! I will probably just go for it but we will very definitely be using condoms even if they only offer partial protection.

Missbopeep Tue 30-Jul-13 20:41:53

I agree with all of that Dahlen.

Dahlen Tue 30-Jul-13 20:36:39

Well I'm sorry if it came across as unclear, but I stand by what I said. I will attempt to clarify it here.

Having regular unprotected sex is foolish, risky behaviour. I defy anyone to argue with that.

When you take a new sexual partner, you don't know how many people they've slept with, granted. Personally I would suggest that anyone who is that irresponsible about their health will probably display similar irresponsibility in other areas of their life, but in the case of a ONS or something admittedly you'd be unlikely to notice that. In those cases, where any knowledge about the new potential partner is absent, surely you'd be using a condom anyway.

However, we are not talking about a ONS in this instance, we are talking about a man who has just freely admitted to travelling abroad and having unprotected sex on more than one occasion. The OP knows that her potential lover has behaved in a risky fashion and that this has implications for her own wellbeing.

I would not expect anyone who wanted to protect their health to be happy about sleeping with someone who regularly had unprotected sex with others in the past, unless they could make a very, very plausible case about how they were now grown up and responsible. The OP's potential lover may have done just that, but she hasn't mentioned it.

Herpes, or the absence of it is irrelevant. I am well aware that you can get herpes (and other STIs) despite using a condom. What about all the many more STIs that are preventable - particularly the really nasty ones like HIV and Hepatitis?

Missbopeep Tue 30-Jul-13 20:23:35

You were very unclear. You said you wouldnt have sex with someone who slept around not using protection ( which means before he met you).

You didn't say what in fact you mean- which is you would insist they used protection with you.

Big difference.

But you could still get herpes whether they used a condom with you or not. That's the bit you are not getting it seems.

Dahlen Tue 30-Jul-13 20:21:04

Missbopeep - I think you're missing the point or maybe I just didn't make myself clear.

You're right that I wouldn't know how many people a man would have slept with. Which is why - regardless of what he tells me - I would not sleep with anyone without using protection.

We have threads on here where men get short shrift for using the excuse "but she told me she was on the pill" when trying to abdicate responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy. The same applies to sexual health. You don't believe the other person until you are in a position to verify or where you know the person well enough to have established that degree of trust.

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