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Dear Chump Lady, My ex gave me an STD

Dear Chump Lady,

It is now 7 months since D-Day. In 7 years, ex-boyfriend cheated with four women and only now “shows” some remorse over “hurting me.” However, there seems to be no acknowledgement over the health consequences of his affairs. At some point, when I expressed being upset over the STD he gave me, all he said was that he could have given it to me at any point.

Now I am ready to go out and date. However, I feel no one is going to want me as I have this STD, although common and not life-threatening at all, the lack of education on the subject means I will be prejudiced against and I really don’t want to segregate myself by using a dating site for people with STDs. Obviously if I got close enough to anyone, I would tell them before having sex that I have this, even if I have no symptoms but as there is a small chance, even with protection, of infection.

This is the part I am struggling the most with, accepting I have it, and that unlike him, I have a responsibility to let people know. (He knows but doesn’t tell or take precautions).

I feel that I will get rejected, judged, and that I will end up alone. I really need some advice. This is really bringing me down and I sometimes don’t feel like I should go out and meet anyone, why bother?

A Chump (AC)

Dear AC,

Before I get to the STD, let me just say if you’re 7 months post-D-Day and I assume 7 months post-break up (but maybe not?) — it might be a bit soon to think about dating again. You had a 7-year relationship with a serial cheater. It’s pretty normal to be feeling incredibly depressed about the human race now — the whole I will get rejected, judged, and end up alone is also a byproduct of infidelity, not just STDs.

Yeah, so you got a twofer on whole feeling like damaged goods. Sorry.

All to say, if you’re feeling like “why bother?” maybe that’s a sign you need to spend some more time healing and less time perusing Match.com. Shore yourself up and invest more in your general awesomeness than your datability now. I think if you do that, the whole panicky feeling of THE PLAGUE! THE PLAGUE! will lessen.

But right… the plague… let’s get to that.

You didn’t mention which STD he gave you, leaving me to make an educated guess between HPV and herpes. If it’s HPV, well it’s as common as having opposable thumbs. Hopefully you got a less serious strain of it. Generally your immune system fights it off, although as we know it can result in warts or cervical cancer if you’re unfortunate. Get those regular pap smears! If it’s herpes, my understanding is that there are great meds for this, and you can be asymptomatic for years, or work around an outbreak.

It sucks. Hugely. But it’s not a death sentence nor do I think it makes you undateable. It will make you more sensitive when you get to the awkward STD conversation — hey, public service announcement — I hope everyone is having the Awkward STD Conversation (ASTDC)! — you know, where it’s about to get intimate and you have a handy, time-stamped copy of your last STD test.

An aside — if you’re dating and sleeping with people, you NEED to endure the ASTDC. Do it for several reasons — a) to inform your partner about your state of health and b) assess their character. Are they doing the same for you? Are they cavalier about your health? Their own health? Are they considerate? Careful? Will they assume that all responsibility for birth control belongs to you? (Jerk) Or do they carry condoms and aren’t afraid to use them?

This is all important information we can overlook in the moment at which we feel  fabulously desirable with a passion that cannot be denied!

Deny it. Have the ASTDC first.

So, back to you, AC — if you’re willing to have that conversation you should be judged as a considerate person. One who does not make unilateral decisions about other people’s health. And I hope your partner is equally considerate. If he isn’t, then he’s not the person for you. Next!

It’s true, you may be rejected. But this can happen at any stage during dating, and it’s part and parcel of dating. He may reject you before, during, or after the ASTDC, but if he is a person of discernment, he will appreciate your honesty.

I think it is very likely, if you find a person who is really attracted to you, that he’ll accept that “small chance.” We all take risks when we date, there is no risk-free approach to finding love and sex. You have a treatable STD. You see that as an obstacle. Other people have things about them that they consider obstacles too. The single mom with three children. The guy with Parkinson’s. The veteran with PTSD.

The world is full of people who love and want to be loved. And it’s also full of horny people who want to get laid and will take their chances.

You’re not an impossible case. What you’re dealing with is another version of what ALL chumps deal with — paying the consequences for a cheater’s grotesque self indulgence. You could be the parent whose family home got foreclosed on when he left. You could be the dad paternity testing his kids. You’re screaming to the heavens what we all scream — It’s NOT FAIR! I don’t DESERVE THIS! Why did this happen to me when I didn’t do ANYTHING WRONG?!

Cheaters make unilateral decisions about our health and welfare. Major decisions that affect our lives, and can have irreparable consequences. This is why I hate the discourse that makes infidelity No Big Deal. Just a quick naughty. Just that sexy thing that edgy people do.

No, chumps get hurt. Cheaters endanger our lives and they fucking waste our precious time. We pay the consequences for actions we did not take.

He gave you an STD. Fuck him. Get regular medical care and be honest with your future partners — you would never be cavalier with their health the way he was with yours. Don’t let this keep you down and give up on love. It’s a shit sandwich and it’s not fair, but people overcome worse everyday. Be secure in the knowledge that you have values, you’re a good person, and you would never endanger anyone. That makes you a real catch — someone to cherish, not reject.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Dear AC,

    Sorry for your predicament. That’s a very personal violation, and you have been left to deal with the consequences of his actions. I’m glad you’re free of him.

    I have no experience with STD’s dispute my XW’s multiple affairs. That’s just luck I guess. So I can’t offer any constructive advice there.

    But I agree with CL about putting the dating on ice for a while. I’m 8 months since leaving my X and 3 and half years since last Dday. I dated a woman for about 2 months after I left my wife. I figured it had been so long since Dday in a dead marriage, that I was ready. It was okay, but there was no way I was ready for a new relationship. She was, so I ended it. That wasn’t fun. But the best for both of us.

    But I know now I need time to recover now. And I’m doing just that. Focusing on other parts of my life, especially my kids, but also work, staying fit and continued learning in many things.

    Good luck AC!

      • Who gives a shit what “pushed” the other guy to cheat,fact is he should have broken up with her first . You sound like another pathetic excuse to cheat,stunning, and this is why stds are rampant .

  • I am so very sorry this happened to you. I will never forget “that appointment” – my exH had been screwing someone from a country with one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. It’s a cold, dark fear that these creeps leave us with.

    My two cents – take your time. I was not diagnosed with an STD, but have an unstable ex and a protection order – that’s the awkward conversation I dread…”before we go to dinner, please know that I sit with one eye on the door, and keep a pepper blaster in my purse..” My exH left 5 years ago (we were married 10 years), and I first dated after about 2 years – it was too soon for me. Next try was after about 3, and that was much better. My “picker” was fixed, and I dated a lovely widower; it ended cordially because it was just too soon for HIM (his wife had only died 2 years before).

    My other thought is that this may be a built in way of “screening” the good ones – it will help guide you to the right man who has genuine interest and compassion for you. Hoping that’s the case; and that all of us bruised and healed chumps find the love we all deserve.

  • Hi AC;
    Recovering Chump guy here…3 years out from D-day and Wife’s Exit Affair with her married co-worker. I was 25 years out of the dating scene and began dating with a lot of insecurity and trust issues, even with some great therapy!
    Last year, I met an amazing woman. We both took things cautiously at first, and -when intimacy became imminent- she carefully explained to me that she had an STD, gave me all of the information that she knew, and asked that I take some time to think it over! I did that, consulted with my own Dr., and then easily and comfortably began our physical relationship.
    We are both happy, committed, reciprocal and enjoying life and each other.
    She keeps telling me how lucky she is to have met a guy like me. I am thankful and happy to experience a balanced relationship, free of BPD, gaslighting, drama and craziness!
    Stay true to yourself and be authentic with others…there are a million great guys out there looking for someone just like you, and will easily look past a controllable issue like STD.

  • Call me naive but why is 7 months post DD too soon to start dating? I ask bc I’ve just hit my 7 months post DD, and I just signed up for online dating. I’m in my late 30s and would like to have a child, why wait if the time is ticking for women in my age group?

    • Heartbroken –

      I can only share my experience, but my “ticking clock” is what got me my exH…I felt that way too, and settled for someone at 31 that I NEVER would have married at 22.

      Another thought is that these experiences we’ve been through I would compare to a broken arm – if you aren’t careful and use it too soon, it’s painful and could be re-injured. It it’s fully healed, it’s often stronger than before. I tried online dating too – and the first round was about 2 years post DD. It’s not for the faint of heart, and a few experiences were more yucky because I was truly not 100%. A snide comment from a guy about my weight really hurt then – now, I’d count it as his loss and move on. I can see that I’m far more confident and tuned in to the “good ones” now as opposed to then, when I’d just have been looking for someone the opposite of exH.

      Oh, and in terms of that clock…adoption is a true miracle. If you are open to it, you can still be a mom, regardless of whether you find a mate. Best wishes to you 🙂

      • heartbroken and redefining me – Yes, the ticking clock was a factor in why I ended up with my ex, also. When it comes to marriage, don’t let fear make any part of that decision for you. That includes fear of the ticking clock running out, fear of being alone, fear of finances, etc. If there’s fear there, deal with it now before it clouds your judgement and leads you down roads which may be wayyy more painful than the original fear (if it even actualized) would have been.

  • Without meaning to be flip, and in the gallows-humor spirit of CL, I imagine a t-shirt that reads: “My cheating ex-spouse had a fun and edgy affair and all I got was an STD.”

    But seriously, to all the chumps out there who ended up with STD’s, my heart goes out to you. Other than paternity testing my sons, getting STD tested after 25 years of faithfulness was one of the lowest infidelity moments. “Unfair” doesn’t begin to capture it.

    And I would add one voice from the male perspective. I agree with CL that most folks over 30 have baggage but still want to have a relationship that includes physical intimacy. For me, I don’t think a manageable bug like herpes would have been a deal killer. I mean, it’s so common that you run a risk having sex with a new person whether they tell you they have it or not. Would such a disclosure have made me think twice? Yes. But you know what? That might not be a bad thing for someone in your situation, AC. Separates the wheat from the chaff, right? If you’re not worth a second thought to them, they probably aren’t good for you in the long run.

  • That sucks that you have to pay for your cheating ex’s affair, with an STD. Post-dday, I was tested for STDs, and although I’m clear, I still have a fear that something may show up later (such as HIV, which doesn’t always appear immediately on tests).

    FWIW, I have a good friend who got herpes. It hasn’t seemed to deter guys at all, they are still totally interested in her. She recently is in a long-term relationship and her man is fine with it.

    My guess is that it’s only as bad as you make it, in your mind. If you mentally go around with a scarlet letter (of sorts) about it, then it will be tough, but if don’t, then you’ll be fine. Another guess: Most guys don’t think about STDs much and probably won’t see it as that big of a deal, when you let them know, as long as you’re managing your health around it. And it won’t be a deal breaker if they’re really into you.

  • Safe sex is a must in this day and age. I lost my fertility after I had my DD. Turns out, Mr Fab had probably given me chlamydia, which fried my ovaries. Could have been worse, could have been HIV.

    Seven months seems too soon to me, but that is your choice. Revenge sex is awful, I tried it-URGH. I would work on the head and heart before venturing further south, myself.

    And the Chump Nation is right-it is a good barometer for any new relationship to have a frank and full discussion about it. Prevention being better than cure…..

    • I just want to move on so badly! Creep still stays at the house and tries to have sex with me so I think dipping my toes in to the dating world might at least be a distraction?

      • No way are you ready to date. You STILL LIVE WITH YOUR CHEATER! This would not be dating, this would be self medicating with other people. If you want to move on so badly, get new living accommodations or throw the bum out.

        Seriously, you have to get the idiot out of your life — utterly — before you’ve got mental and physical space for someone else.

      • heartbroken – Dating right now is a really bad idea. If you date now, chances are good that your cheater will get very vindictive. You must break up 100% and move out first. Seriously, dating now has the potential to add more stress than you realize.

        • Cheater moving out in May so fairly soon. I just thought I’d speed up the process asi will be putting myself out there again anyway. I’m still young, attractive and would love to meet a nice man. I’m still heartbroken (hence my name), but that’s the advice I was given by a friend who claims she “wasted” 2 yrs passed her divorce to date and wishes she would have gotten started sooner. I don’t really have any other point of reference since I’ve newer been in this situation before. What are the potential dangers of dating too soon you’re all referring to? Someone new could break my heart again and it will hit me hard since I’m still licking my wounds from a previous relationship?

      • It’s the number one thing my sister mentions when she gets talking about STDs. She’s a biologist, and currently teaching a lot of Anatomy and Physiology. STDs come up a lot in conversations with her students. Many men can have an STD and be totally unaware because STDs can often be asymptomatic in men. The same STD in a woman can cause unpleasant symptoms and loss of fertility.

        How one reacts to having a treatable STD is probably dependent upon one’s sexual experiences prior to the X. If you’ve only ever had sex with one person–your cheating spouse–and you pick up even something like one of the non-serious strains of HPV, it’s a double shit sandwich because outside of abstinence, the only way to guarantee not getting an STD is for a mutually monogamous relationship with another uninfected person.

        Well then, that didn’t work out so mutual, did it?

        So it’s not just wrapping your head around the fact that you were cheated on, but also that your cheater gave you an infection you’ll have for the rest of your life. Since you played by the rules, it seems yet even more unfair.

        • My Ex also gave me an STD. What really blew me away was on D-Day the affair had been over for awhile, and he still did not get tested himself. I guess if his dick hadn’t rotted off, he must be OK! Thanks! WTF?

  • Sorry to hear about what you’re going through.
    My two cents worth: I think that you need to give yourself more time before opening yourself up to dating. It’s too soon. You need to heal first.

    My xh also gave me a few STD’s.
    Firstly it was Candida, repeated flare-ups to a point that it was chronic. I thought it was just me – my body, my diet, in short my fault. In those days, years ago, there was plenty of literature out there that stated it wasn’t sexually transmitted. I found out with 2nd DDAY 25 years later it was because he was screwing one of his (few) friend’s skanky GF over the course of a couple of years. I knew her then and I also knew she had the problem before mine started.
    I also had to be treated for Chlamydia and Trichamona on different occasions. I had PID complications and had to deal with that.
    I had to have the HIV, Hep testing after we separated. Thankfully I was clear. I was really lucky because he was into 3-somes and oral sex (probably more). Don’t care to know what anymore.
    My STD’s were treatable. The PID has settled down over the years and I am very healthy now.
    The real shock besides getting these diseases, was that he denied it was him and told me I must have contracted it from the hot tub! He showed no remorse @ 2nd DDay, minimized it all as if it was no big deal at all.
    I wish you luck and warm wishes. Give yourself more time and be kind to yourself.

  • Oops, meant to say oral sex and maybe more with bisexual men, besides the many 3-somes. I really, really was lucky.

  • Thank you so much for your comments and advice – sometimes it is best to hear some advice from fellow chumps that advice from those who’ve never experienced what we have. It seems silly as part of my thought process is similar to what you have said but I needed confirmation.

    I typed it wrong, it’s 7 months since breakup (and kicking him out) and 9 since D-Day.

    I found out about the herpes last year and he managed to convince me that he probably already had it when we got together and didn’t know about it. I have only had one outbreak and very mild and haven’t had another one in over a year. As we were supposedly in a committed relationship I thought we could manage it as a couple. The difference in the UK is that they only give you treatment for herpes if you have an outbreak, and all the information I have read about medication to keep it at bay is from other countries where that option is available.

    Don, your advice and experience is particularly encouraging. And you are all right – if people get put off by this, they are probably not worth it.

    And about the dating, I feel like I am getting into the ‘meh’, I feel more ready to date than before, but taking into account how much extra I have to deal with as part of the breakout I’ll sit it out for longer.

    Part of it was pressure from friends to ‘get out there’, one of them basically sat there with me to make sure I completed the whole e-harmony thing when I was really not ready, and I told her, still made me do it (this is 3 weeks after break up). Man, that was an expensive way to get her off my back.

    But anyway, I am very grateful for all your comments, I needed this encouragement.

    • HPV is scary stuff and requires an additional “special” test along the standard one. I almost didn’t get screened for one if it wasn’t for a doc friend who almost dragged me to get it. Women’s ovarian cancer rates have doubled in the last few decades, this is a horrible virus to have.

    • Your ‘friend’ forced you to sign up for a dating service after you told her you weren’t ready? First, I don’t think this is much of a friend when she won’t listen when you express your needs. More importantly, I think that you need to work on setting boundaries before you start dating again. You should not allow anyone to push you into something that you are not ready for. This could be a problem if you are dating. I know because I let people do it to me all the time. It’s something I am working on, and getting better about it, but I need to get stronger before I will consider dating.

    • I don’t think it’s just a matter of time but you need to hold off on dating until you reach the point were your self esteem has been restored and you can handle rejection when it happens for whatever reason. CL’s advice a few posts back here articulates this well- http://chumplady.com/2014/01/dear-chump-lady-i-made-a-fool-out-of-myself/

      When you really reach a point when you can honestly say that you aren’t going self soothe with other people or look to others for validation, then I think you should date for character and obviously delay having any sex until you can give your potential partners a “safer sex elevator speech.” I really liked the approach taken on this issue here- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLcv9hPtYTU
      Obviously the audience for this youtube is poly/sex positive but I think that it’s good example on how give the information so that there is consent and disclosure with humor.
      You need to get to the place where you can introduce the issue comfortably. Obviously, if you are teary and make a big production out of having HSV (whether 1 or 2) you’re more likely to freak out your potential partner. I’d spare your partner the details of how you caught it and just focus on your status and likelihood of transmission (very low if you use condoms, which you should anyway) If you’re partner is completely unaware/uninformed, give him/her the space to obtain more information about it and offer to answer any questions.

      I know that having HSV is not a picnic in the park but trust me, it’s not a big deal for most most people. One study estimated that the likelihood of transmission from man to a woman was 0.0009 per single sex act; it was even lower from woman to a man – 0.0002 per sex act. Using condoms reduces that risk even further. So does daily suppressive therapy. http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/18/giving-your-partner-herpes/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

      The biggest hurdle of HSV is the stigma of having it and all the judgment society puts on people with it. The worse case scenario of a partner rejecting you because of it is not going to end your life and you’re ability to communicate this well will separate the wheat from the chaff.
      Sorry I had to nerd out, I used to teach sex ed.

    • Awww, Ac. Sometimes I wish I was that woman who could go out and date right away or casual date for fun in general but I never have been that girl. I need to fully move on from a heart ache before I can even start dating. Besides, it’s not fair to whoever ends up being the rebound relationship. If you’re not ready you’re not ready. Despite what your friends want to force you to do you are going to know yourself better than anyone. Really…paying attention to that feeling that you have about it not being time is not any different than paying attention to the voice or feeling that tells us when we’re in a relationship and it isn’t right. It’s a red flag, just without the actual creep yet.

      I’m sorry about the herpes. What an a-hole your ex is. It’s one thing to heal from the emotional fallout of a cheating partner because theoretically that damage is temporary. It’s a harder salt-in-the-wound kind of b.s. to have some permanent physical reminder of that betrayal. I had to get a full STD screening at 7 weeks pregnant. All clear but I have to be retested before the baby is born.

      Passing on an std to your partner while being unfaithful qualifies you for a good kick in the balls. Passing on an std to a pregnant partner qualifies for removal of said balls. And er…whatever the lady equivalent is if gender roles are reversed.

    • It also can cause vaginal cancer, less commonly. I had the most severe grade of pre-cancer reoccur and had to have a hysterectomy. The hysterectomy finally cleared it. My understanding is that the cells in the transformation zone of the cervix are particularly vulnerable to hpv. But, with my history, I still have to get pap smears to rule out the possibility of vaginal pre-cancerous cells even though I no longer have a cervix.

  • Count me in as one of the people who think that dipping the toes in the dating pool after 7 months is probably too soon. Get rid of the X (sounds as if you signed a lease together and he’s stuck til the lease runs out). Get some therapy to get over the mindfuck, and also to help you fix your picker and navigate to healthier relationships.

    While I think that getting rid of the X is a good thing, I remember that I had grad school friends who broke up mid-lease, and their lives were just hell. This was one reason why some of my other grad school friends refused to move in with their boyfriends/later husbands. If things went south, they didn’t want to be stuck in a lease with an X, since no one in grad school has money to break a lease, and landlords in college towns tend to be real sticklers for lease dates. Unlike larger cities, they can’t get someone in right away, so if you break the lease, they’ll lose income.

  • STD’s…. From what I inferred from your post and what CL wrote, the type of “gift that keeps on giving” that you received from your X, does not make you spoiled goods.

    It is now another filter in your future dating experience. It will weed-out people from your dating pool.

    My NPD spouse had LOTS of unprotected sex during my twin pregnancy and after. At my DDay this past October, I spent 3 weeks hyperventilating the results of my STD panel. I nursed my babies the entire time he was fucking around. The possibility of him giving me life threatening diseases which I could have passed onto my sons was a horrible, real situation. Even thinking about it now makes me sick.

    • I said it above but it bears repeating. ANC, your spouse deserves to have his balls removed. My spouse would come home after having NSA blowjobs and have sex with me without washing off first. It still kind of blows my mind that he didn’t worry even a little about the danger to the pregnancy.

  • Been there!! Actually still there since there’s no cure….but the good news is that TIME will change your thinking, calm most of your fears and let you remember that you are NOT this disease, it’s one of the thousands of things that are part of you as a person. Like your compassion and self respect and honesty and integrity. I know it is frightening to think of telling someone about it, but from experience I can tell you it’s not as bad as you imagine and the first time is the toughest. Get to know someone first–this truly is a messed up Litmas Test for assholes. The ones that do not deserve you will fail. BUT since more people than you think have STDs, my personal experience on more than one occasion has been a response of –“I have that too!!!” Met with a tremendous sigh of relief from me followed by the question “And just WHEN were you going to tell ME?” Maybe they would have, maybe not. But I know that I was the braver one, I was the one with integrity. That is something no one will take from you, no matter what happens. A word on those dating sites specifically for us folks– they’re really not as scary as it seems. Think about it–everyone there is choosing to be honest and forthright from the get-go. A pretty good character trait. Take your time and heal emotionally. Do not rush the process. You will know when it’s time-when you no longer feel like damaged goods (You’re NOT!) and can let go of the anger. Good luck and Blessings!!

  • AC,

    So sorry you were given an STD. Is it possible to sue your boyfriend to pay for your medical care? You were together for a very long time, but I couldn’t say if there were any laws in place treating a longer relationship like a marriage.

    I was married for 7 years and I am now close to 9 months after I was dumped. I generally have a really hard time thinking about dating or a second marriage right now, and that tells me I’m nowhere near ready to date again, and that it’s going to be a long time (2-4 years?) before I will be ready. There are even still days when I think of just “mailing it in” and forgetting about marriage (and on the rare really bad day, social contact in general) altogether. I don’t like having these negative thoughts, but all I know that if I try to date right now it would be a mistake, and I’m better off for knowing that. I also know that these thoughts are getting less and less frequent and will eventually pass, and not rushing anything is going to be a big key for me.

    CL has written a bunch of articles on “fixing your picker” – read them if you haven’t already.

  • My ex gave me herpes and it fucks with me, I remember him saying he envied my ability to enjoy sex for its own sake and giving me this infection ensures I will not be able to enjoy that freedom again in the same way. I am also one of the small percentage that gets very sick, like flu during outbreaks, other symtoms that are nasty. I have both types in mouth and genitals and even on other spots on my body where i spread through scratching before i knew what i had. I have to take medication all the time or I am constantly sick. I hate him for doing this to me. Also, have a hard time because if I was not infected I know I would not risk it if someone I was dating told me they had herpes. True it is low likelihood of transmission if precautions are taken, but unlike many others, for me herpes is a debilitating infection that impacts me greatly day to day. The bastard didn’t give a shit that he gave it to me. Btw, standard STI tests do not include herpes, you have to ask for the test.

    • I wrote my comment below before yours posted, Anon, so I hope you don’t take offense to my “it’s not all bad” outlook.
      I am truly, truly sorry someone knowingly gave you this and that you are one of those who is severely affected. It sucks ass.

      I hope a better treatment for your symptoms comes along soon.
      I was infected 18 years ago by someone who had no idea he had it. He was devastated. After a few initially bad outbreaks, things got a lot better and now by taking meds and avoiding nuts and chocolate (mostly), I’m rarely affected. Except now I’m going to have to have “The Talk” again someday. But if someone rejects me, they’re rejecting the herpes, not me.

      • Yes, I read all the literature and outbreaks have become less severe. Unfortunately, the first outbreak put me in bed for a week so less severe is still pretty bad. It’s been 3 years and if I go off the antivirals I have back to back outbreaks within days. I even have lesser ones when I am on the antivirals.

        • Most people I’ve ever known with herpes seem to have sporadic outbreaks, but I’ve never had a friend who got incredibly sick. Why do you go off the antivirals if the outbreaks get way more severe and often?

  • CL, this column may be one of the most helpful you’ve ever published, and here’s why: studies estimate that about 85-90% of people in the US (and probably elsewhere too) with HSV 2 don’t know it. That’s right, 90%. And why is this? Because HSV 2, which causes genital herpes is NOT included in standard STI (sexually transmitted infection) screening panels unless you ask for it or reported having symptoms.

    If you were not specifically told or shown results that you are negative for Herpes, you may want to call your doctor and get the blood text. Additionally, some of the tests for genital herpes only show whether or not there is HSV 2 present- and 40% of new transmissions of genital herpes are caused by the cold sore virus HSV 1. This is thought to be due to the increased popularity of oral sex. Basically, HSV 1 prefers to show up in the oral area as cold sores, but it’s willing to travel if given the opportunity! Genital herpes caused by HSV 1 tends to have less severe outbreaks.

    So besides not having been tested (or erroneously thinking they were), why don’t people know they have it?

    As many as 85% of infected people are asymptomatic or attribute their symptoms to the following: yeast infections, UTIs, ingrown hairs, jock itch, allergic reaction to condoms or zipper burn.

    Also, it used to be the case that you could only be positively diagnosed if a swab was taken from a herpes sore and tested. Now there’s a blood test for the virus. This test has not been around all that long.

    Studies say 1 in 6 women and 1 in 9 men have genital herpes. Anyone out there dating is going to run into this. I would be reluctant to take anyone’s word that they are negative (I despise the term “clean” as that implies so much shame).

    That being said, herpes is not a fatal diagnosis! If most of the people who have it don’t know or can attribute it to a yeast infection or jock itch, then that’s good news! But I think it’s important that people know if they have it or not. With a daily antiviral pill transmission is reduced by almost 50%. Add in condoms and avoiding sex during an outbreak and the chance of transmission is very very low.

    Please read “The Good News About the Bad News: Herpes: Everything You Need to Know” by Terri Warren, RN, NP or “Dr.Ruth’s Guide to Talking About Herpes”. That’s where all the above info and stats came from.
    I also found an interesting article here:
    http://www.xojane.com/healthy/you-can-spread-herpes-without-knowing-you-have-it

    • Educated provided excellent information. My XH infected me with HSV2. He got it from his AP. She got it from her cheating husband. In my more cynical moments, I think of it as the party that only I missed. Mercefully, I am asymptomatic and have never had an outbreak. It was XH’s massive outbreak that brought the whole nasty business to light. My XH was the only boyfriend/lover in my history (26 years married). I take antivirals daily to prevent the possibility of an outbreak and to minimize the possibility of passing on to my boyfriend. Yes, I have a beautiful man as a boyfriend. Very early in our dating, I told him about my status. I wanted him to have an opportunity to pass on a relationship with me before we became more attached. He was willing to take the leap.

      Anonymous, I am so sorry for you. You must have contracted the virus when your partner was in a highly infectious state. I hope the severity and number of your outbreaks dies down. What a nightmare. Folks, even with antivirals and using condoms, it is possible to contract herpes. Your body just needs to come into contact with an infectious spot on a partner. They may be shedding virus and have no discernable rash or bumps.

  • I got an std too. HPV – the high risk kind. I had some problems with pre cancer, but I’ve now been all clear for over two years after some surgery. Most women clear it on their own without needing any surgery. I will say that since HPV can stay in the system so long undetected, I have no idea if my ex contracted it from cheating on me or if he contracted it from a woman he dated before we were together. (I hadn’t slept with anyone but him when diagnosed).

  • I have always had regular sti screens. Since leaving a serial cheater five years ago. I tried dating. Recently had the awkward serial health talk with a potential new partner. He said he was clean, and was also regularly tested. So how come I’ve just contracted chlamydia.?!
    I told him. He said he was immensely sorry. Oh really, well that’s ok then. My biological clock is ticking, I’ve been responsible, and honest and open. But still end up in this mess. I hate my life right now, and doubt I will be able to trust another man.

  • My ex gave me Herpes. He let me suffer with it for eighteen years. I wasn’t promiscuous when I was young and I had no idea what it was. He knew he had it, and gave it to me with absolutely no second thought.

  • (im so sorry i dont mean to take over the post with my problems but just needed to let this out)

    I know what you are going through, i was in a 6 and half year relationship with my ex boyfriend and around 5 years ago I found out he gave me a STD I was so scared I would say the first year i was young and it didn’t hit me until year 2 when i was staring into space all the time people thought i was so weird when i started my new job. I just couldn’t believe it, i was really UN-knowledgeable and scared to search the word Herpes on my computer because i shared it with family. I remember searching it on my phone and i got so freaked out from what the post said i never looked again over the years my relationship got stronger i never had another outbreak after the first couple years and i kind of forgot i had it at a stage because i never thought about it. But 8 months ago my ex left me and was with someone else a couple weeks later (basically left me for her) a few months before he left me i was pregnant with our first child that i would of had in January but sadly i lost the baby. Iv taken this breakup so badly and people think i am really hurt because he left me, Yes of course i am but my friends just don’t understand how deep my pain goes not knowing he has given me a std at such a young age, taken my happiness from me and i most probably will never have the opportunity to be pregnant again & have a family, that kills me everyday.

    His been flaunting his new girlfriend in my face and he really doesn’t care about me, I still have love for him his the only person i can talk to about how i am really feeling because his the only person that knows but in January that stopped when we had a argument and i said I would tell his new gf he gave me herpes because he just doesn’t understand the seriousness of what his done to me. I am now going through this pain in silence,alone. if i didn’t have this STD i know i wouldn’t be feeling the way i do about the whole situation ( i am practically stalking my ex’s gf, because i know deep down in my heart my ex is the only person i am now compatible with because of what he gave me and that makes me so sad i feel this way because i just want to move on and be happy). He swears blind he doesn’t have herpes and was telling me i don’t i am good, but we was still having sex while i had my first outbreak which was so bad i would lay on the public toilet floor crying in pain (disgusting i know), his the only person that could of gave it to me, he said his new gf doesn’t have it, I just think why did this have to happen to me. his never had any symptoms but at the time i noticed he used to have tiny little spots but he said the dr said that was nothing. I just feel so worthless and just cant see any light at the end of the tunnel, i really didn’t deserve this. I know I will never be able to tell anyone not even my mum/friends what i am going through let alone a guy. I just have to accept i am going to be alone for the rest of my life. I really feel like my life is over, iv cried everyday for 8 months ruining my skin, my herpes is back because i done research into how to get rid of it that just made everything worse, i cant even go next to sugar now. i started a business and haven’t touched it in the last 6 months i just feel like i am falling to pieces and i am at the stage of not knowing what to do to get through this, i just cant live like this anymore.

    I really want to tell someone but i just don’t want anyone to have that power over me, i just cant trust a soul. I know everyone will look at me like Eww shes got a std but at least they will know he did this to me i never done this to myself. People keep telling me to move on and get over it, if i was clean, yeah okay but i am not.

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