Dr. Erica answers questions about herpes, Page 1

Do you have any questions or concerns about how herpes will affect your life, love relationships, future, etc?
Receive advice from Dr. Erica Goodstone, a licensed mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist and board certified sex therapist:

Dr. Erica says the choice is yours

You don't have to be lonely

Dear Dr. Erica:

I was in a relationship for about a year and 3 months. My ex-boyfriend found out he had herpes 4 months after we were together. He told me to go to the doctor and check myself. Two weeks after, I found out I had it too. I felt devastated and dirty. We stayed together and we were trying to live our normal life. I had never had any breakout and neither did he. I have been checking myself with the doctor every 3 months. About 2 weeks ago, my ex-boyfriend decided that we were not working out and he wanted to move on. I feel very depressed. I’m just thinking that nobody is gonna want me. My ex-boyfriend is ready to move on. How can he be so selfish after all we been through? I don’t want to be humiliated by anyone, so I have decided never to date again. Please help me, Lonely

Dr. Erica's Response

Dear Lonely:

Since you already describe yourself as lonely, is that how you want to live the rest of your life? Do you really believe there is nobody out there who would like your company, your presence, and to share intimate moments with you? If you were so unlovable and undesirable, how could your boyfriend have stayed with you for a year and 3 months? You must have something special to offer that he saw and wanted. But each of us has a complex mental and emotional makeup, created by our genes, early childhood upbringing, culture, nationality and religion, environment, education, work or career, friends and associates, and all sorts of life experiences. When we first meet a new person, we may feel attracted. However, as we get closer and share ourselves more intimately, all sorts of subconscious needs and desires may arise. There is no way to predict or to fully understand what another person’s consciousness is experiencing. All you can do is to be yourself, offer your love to another person, and then allow them to express themselves in their own way. If they fall in love with you and want to be your life partner, and you feel the same way, wonderful. However, if the other person feels a need to “move on,” to meet and become intimate with others, all you can do is let this person go – either willingly or with resistance, anger, hurt, accusations and a sense of victimhood. It is unfortunate that you contracted the herpes virus, but it is just one minor life issue that can be dealt with. There are many other men in the world and there is one, probably many more than one, that is waiting to meet you, to love you and to share intimate moments and perhaps a lifetime with you.

But if you choose to never date again and remain a lonely and depressed woman until old age, the choice is yours. Personally, I would make every effort to feel relieved that this man has shown his true feelings, his true colors, now and not 10, 20, or 30 years from now when you have invested so much more time, energy, emotion and devotion.

Dear Dr. Erica:

I have been dating a woman, and we had the "sex talk" finally. She told me that she has herpes and I’m totally bummed. I really like her a lot, but me performing oral sex on my partner is very important and exciting to me. I don`t want to use dental dams. Can you take any medications as a preemptive measure? And is it possible to lead a normal sex life while just keeping a very close eye on the area for possible outbreaks?
Wanting oral sex

Dr. Erica's Response

Dear Wanting Oral Sex:

A new drug has been advertised, Valtrex, but it probably just helps with symptoms. You can ask your doctor about it. However, there is not yet a drug you can take nor is there a vaccine available to immunize you against the herpes virus. So, you need to decide what is most important to you. If oral sex is a high priority for you, and you risk the possibility of contracting herpes by participating in this desired behavior with this woman, then perhaps it is time for you to end this relationship. Even if there are no obvious symptoms, no break out of a rash, the herpes virus can still be contagious. You will have to decide how much this particular woman means to you. If she is so special that you feel she can never be replaced, then this may be something you have to live with. But if you are not that taken with her, or if your relationship is just starting to get close, it may be advisable for you to leave before you get too emotionally involved. The choice is yours.

Dear Dr. Erica:

I have recently fallen in love with a woman with genital herpes. I obviously want to be as educated as I can. Is it possible to lead a fairly worry free sex life? Her outbreaks are fairly rare. She is 44 years old.

Dr. Erica's Response

Dear Gary:

The genital herpes virus may lie dormant in the body but it is still present and can be contagious, even when there is no obvious outbreak of symptoms. There is always the possibility that you will eventually contract herpes, but it is certainly less likely if you use condoms regularly and experiment with dental dams for oral sex. Although this may not be your ideal chosen situation, finding someone you truly love is a gift, not easily attained. If you love this woman and create a bond of closeness with honest communication, together you can overcome any inhibitions and problems caused by fear of this germ. As you go through live together, there will be many hardships, probably many other illnesses and problems to overcome. Let love conquer all.

Dear Dr. Erica:

My wife and I have been married for 6 years (together for 7). My wife has recently been diagnosed with genital herpes. I have never had any signs of herpes and neither has she, until now. I`m wondering (hoping) since neither of us has been with any other sexual partners, is it possible for her to have had this for 7 years never showing symptoms until now or is there likely more to the story?
The Husband

Dr. Erica's Response

Dear Husband:

I can appreciate your concern and somewhat suspicious undertone. However, let me reassure you that many people who have an outbreak of genital herpes do not have any symptoms, or have symptoms that are so mild that they are unnoticeable. Did you know that over 50 million Americans have genital herpes, yet as many as 90% do not even realize they are infected with the virus because they either do not have any symptoms or the symptoms they do have are so mild that they go unnoticed. It is possible that your wife was infected with the herpes virus a long time ago and has had mild or unnoticeable symptoms for the past seven years. Perhaps some recent highly stressful emotional event or an illness that lowered her immune response has caused her dormant herpes virus to be re-activated with an obvious outbreak of symptoms. There is more to the story, however. Now that she has received a positive diagnosis of the herpes virus, it would be wise for you to have some real heart to heart discussions about ways to enjoy sexual intimacy without causing you to become infected or your wife to have recurrent outbreaks. This current diagnosis can act as a segway toward increased sharing, honesty and intimacy in your marriage, or, it can lead to perhaps unwarranted suspicion, doubts and irreparable distance. The choice is yours.

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