117: What I Wish I Knew Before I Was Diagnosed With Herpes With Alexandra Harbushka
Life With Herpes
It’s so easy to look back with the knowledge that you have now and say I shoulda coulda woulda etc. If you could turn back the time you could pick the winning lotto tickets or ace the final exam or even sweet the one you love off your feet. I don’t think too many people would say, “I’d still get herpes”. However, I would but that’s another post.
Now knowing everything I know about herpes I wish there were somethings that I would have known or listened too. It would have made my revcovery a lot easier.
On of the common go-to sayings is...just use a condom and everything will be fine. Well, yes using condoms does lessen the risk of unplanned pregnancy and cuts down on the spread of STI’s and in our case, herpes. Which is all awesome stuff and it’s great that we have condoms. However, what we don’t think about is the other areas that are exposed to during sex. Think about it, the condom only covers the penis and it doesn't always cover all the way to the base. So the good news is if a man has herpes on the shaft or head of his penis then the condom will cover it. Also, if the female has herpes on her cervix then the condom will protect both partners. But we all know that there’s a ton of other body parts that touch before, during and after sex and that leaves us exposed. My point in this is if you “always” used a condom and still got herpes please don’t beat yourself up. This is just a piece of knowledge that’s important for us to know going forward with future relationships and to educate our partners.
The next word of wisdom I wish I’d listened to was that oral sex is just as risky as sex. We often use oral sex as an alternative to sex for a caveat of reasons. Maybe there’s no condom or maybe you don't really know the person and you don't want to sleep with them the first night or maybe it’s the idea of preserving your virginity. Whatever your reason is, it doesn’t matter the fact is you can still get herpes and other STI’s from having oral sex. The only thing oral sex prevents is pregnancy. I hear about so many people getting herpes from oral sex and HSV1 is now on the rise genitally. In fact, I’d make the argument you have a better chance of getting genital herpes from oral sex then you would from conventional intercourse. Here’s why statistically more people have HSV1 commonly known as oral herpes than HSV2 or commonly known as genital herpes. It’s 2 out of 3 people who have HSV 1 and 1 out of 6 that have HSV2 so when you look at the numbers the risk is far greater to end up with HSV1 in your genital region from oral sex. The point I’m wanting to get across here is if you’re going to receive oral sex or give oral sex use a condom or dental dam. Especially if it’s a stranger! Rethink why you’re using it as the scapegoat to sex. Basically, know the facts and make your decision.
The final thought that's probably the most important and it’s taken me many years to grasp this. It’s that herpes is just a skin disease and it’s not a reflection of your sex life. The stigma showcases herpes as the reason you have herpes is because you slept around or you have tons of unprotected sex with multiple partners or you pick really sleazy people to sleep with. This is all one big fat lie! It’s 100% false! It’s utter bull shit if you ask me! Sex shouldn’t be something we’re ashamed of nor something we should be called out on or stigmatized. Sex is a natural part of our lives and the herpes virus is so common that it’s surprising not more people have it. Basically at the end of the day herpes is a skin rash or skin disease or something that pops up when you’re not taking care of yourself. That’s it! Herpes doesn’t make you dirty and not having herpes doesn’t make you clean. I know plenty of people who don’t have herpes and I’d consider them a pretty dirty person based on personal hygiene. So please don’t be hard on yourself thinking that you are a bad person or dirty or don’t deserve happiness. It’s all the stigma and all herpes is a skin disease.
I hope that these words of wisdom ease some of the guilt or disgust you may be feeling towards yourself. Having the herpes virus that millions of other people in the world have in common with you just
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