Dr. Amy 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. Amy Demner, a Board Certified Clincial Sexologist:

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Dear Dr. Amy:

I am a lesbian who has never had intercourse. I was recently diagnosed with genital herpes. I believe that I got it from a previous partner who had a cold sore appear on her lip a day after we engaged in oral sex. We are no longer partners.

After being diagnosed with the virus and being on medication to clear that up...I then noticed a pimple on my lip. The pimple never broke open, but could I also have herpes on my mouth too?

Another question, although I have been diagnosed with genital herpes, is there a possibility that I could spread this to another future partner by kissing them or engaging in oral sex with them. I realize that my days of receiving oral sex are over, but what about giving oral sex?

Dental Dams

Please read this response for detailed
information about dental dams:
Dr. Amy's Response:
Dear Recently Diagnosed With Genital Herpes:

Yes, it is possible to transfer the herpes virus from the mouth to the genitals or from the genitals to the mouth, because transmission occurs when there is contact with an infected or viral shedding area. To confirm that you actually have oral herpes, you should see your physician for testing. To answer the other question you had, that since you have been diagnosed with genital herpes, can you spread this to future partners by kissing or oral sex, that is why I suggested getting a through test to determine if you even have oral herpes. If you do have herpes on your lip, then you can infect your future partners if the infected or viral shedding lip area comes in contact with their lip or genital area.

Certainly, kissing and oral sex would be ways where you could transmit your infection, but don’t think that your days for these activities are over. There are ways that you can protect your self and protect your partners. This can be enjoyably achieved by using a product called a DENTAL DAM.

In fact, they are making dental dams in many varieties. In general, they are latex squares and they usually measure somewhere about 8 to 6 inches. They can be purchased singly; they can be purchased with flavor. There are also actual latex panties that can be ordered. Many people prefer this option, because you don’t have to be constricted by trying to hold the latex in place, which can get to be cumbersome.

The way that you use the dental dam during sex, you will stretch it across your partner’s genitals in order to prevent your tongue from touching your partner. You can find latex dams in either medical supply stores or some sex shops. And as I mentioned before, in the sex shops, you’ll be able to get a greater variety, such as dams that have flavor which can undoubtedly add to the experience and make it more pleasurable. When you want to get romantic with somebody and it is not convenient to run out to an adult store, there are ways you can make dental dams right at home. One way is by making a dam out of a condom. In this case, do not use a condom that is lubricated. Since you are going to be putting your mouth on it, that would definitely be a turn - off.

You can make your own dental dam

......Now to make a dam out of a condom, first you cut off the tip of it and then you cut off the base. Finally, cut down one of the sides. You now have an instant square latex dam. You also can make a dam out of a latex glove. Not a kitchen or garden glove, nor the kind of latex glove that has talc powder inside, because again, you are going to be putting your mouth on it, and that surely is not going to be very tasty. So, if you are going to use a glove, you first cut off the fingers, and then you cut off the base. Now cut along the thumb of the palm and you can leave the thumb on. What you will have is a dental dam with a bonus thumb handle, which will help to hold things in place. You also can use the latex fingers that are left to cover your fingers so you are able to have contact and touch your partner. You will find that using a dam and a latex glove on your hand at the same time is going to be difficult to do, because it is difficult to hold the dam in place if you are going to have latex on your hand. Another helpful barrier for oral sex is right in your kitchen and that is using plastic wrap, but specifically using Saran Wrap. This is a brand that has been tested by the FDA for its ability to stop viruses. So, Saran Wrap will work and many people like Saran Wrap since it is not as thick as the latex used for the dental dams so it might heighten some feelings of sensitivity and also for the person who is going to be giving oral sex, it’s also going to enhance your ability to be able to enjoy the feel of your partner’s genitals.

After using a dam, always remember it is very important to carefully dispose of your dams after you use them. Never reuse a dam. You may inadvertently put the wrong side towards your mouth, and that would be defeating the purpose.

There are also flavored water-based lubes that you can use on barriers, which could be a dental dam as well as a condom, if that is what you are using for sex with a male partner. One final note, on the use of Saran Wrap, the prevention is limited to, almost exclusively, performing cunnilingus and analingus, because it is a less substantial material, other uses for it would not be advised as an effective barrier because the Saran Wrap could get torn.

Dear Dr. Amy:

I found a guy that does not have herpes, but I do. He accepted me for all that I am and everything that comes along with me. But now he's gone because he's in the military and we don't even speak anymore. I'm so afraid that I will never find anyone to love me again like he did. My self - esteem is shot and I can't get close to anyone. Have any advice? I really don't enjoy disliking men.

Dr. Amy's Response:
Dear Afraid I will Never Find Anyone:

It is sad for you that you have been separated from such an important person who you describe as loving you so much and so completely. When I read this, what I wonder is why do you dislike men if you had such an excellent partner. I’m not quite sure where this dislike comes from. The positive part is the fact that you are not enjoying disliking men. From you note, it is not clear that if you say that he is gone because he is in the military, if that would have to do with his work, or if there is anything more to it than that.

So, some of the questions I would speculate about is I am not sure if you’re viewing his choice of profession as some kind of a personal rejection. But if this is the case, or if when you read this, it strikes a cord with you, then you might want to seek some professional help in order to work it out, because this has affected your self-esteem so greatly that you aren’t able to get close to anybody.

Dear Dr. Amy:

I am a 27 year old single mom diagnosed with herpes about 3 months ago. I feel very dirty and I am terrified to meet new people and I certainly cannot imagine ever dating anyone ever again. I realize it is still new, but I just don't know what to do to help me move on. Do you have any suggestions for me or is this a case of "time will heal all wounds"?
Lonely in MN

Dr. Amy's Response:
Dear Lonely in MN:

The feelings you are describing of feeling dirty and being terrified about meeting new people and thinking that you are never going to date again, have been reiterated by many who have received diagnoses of herpes. Yes, you are recognizing that you have contracted this virus a few months ago, and feeling rather devastated about that information right now. In terms of what could help you in moving on, is to acknowledge that just because you have herpes, does not mean that all of the other wonderful traits about you have disappeared. Look at what you have to offer, or in a relationship, what kind of person you are, the things you enjoy doing, and start to get yourself back out there. That’s going to be a very important goal for you. Isolating yourself and sort of punishing yourself and feeling like you’ve got to keep yourself away from other people, again, this is a very typical reaction, but it does not help the situation. So, the best thing for you to do is to get back and mingle with other people. Keep in mind that you are not alone. Almost one out of four people out there have genital herpes.

To answer your question about the old saying, “Time will heal all wounds”, I would say that if you use your time wisely and enjoyably, then, yes, it will heal your wounds. So, go out there. Get back into life again, and that will be the best healer for you.

Dear Dr. Amy:

I was diagnosed with genital herpes about 6 months ago and the age of 40. I am divorced, female, and a single mother. I have had only 2 sexual partners in my life. My boyfriend did not know that he had the virus, he thought he had jock itch. Needless to say, I am devastated. We still see each other, but it seems that since I have been diagnosed, our sex life has fallen off dramatically. We do not live together but I do see him on weekends and once throughout the week. When we do have sex, he does not "touch" my genitals like he had in the past. I feel as if I am a leper. I have tried to tell him how I feel, but his response is: "Oh, great, I have ruined your life " or "I have given you the worst thing a woman can have". I have read up on this STD and the literature suggests that you can lead a normal sex life. It seems that our sexual relationship makes me feel that yes, it is the worst thing a woman can have and I feel like my sex life is over. Please give me some kind of insight as to how I can deal with this. Is this a normal reaction?

Thank you, any insight will be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Amy's Response:
Dear Belinda:

It sounds like your boyfriend has a lot of guilt about infecting you with herpes. In fact, he has stated as such. Good for you in reading up on living with herpes, because it is not the end of sex! Try to encourage your lover to see a sex therapist, because it sounds like his feelings of guilt are causing him to cut himself off sexually from you, as well as from himself. You had indicated the way you have been feeling, that he doesn’t want to touch you; it seems like he has issues and could use assistance to work through them.

When you are asking about how you would be able to deal with something like this, I think you are dealing right now; asking for help, asking for some insight of what to do with this situation, but it appears that much of the problem stems from your boyfriend, unless there are other things going on within your relationship that is causing the lack of sex between the two of you.

Now, when you are asking about it being a normal reaction, somebody who has given herpes to a partner very often is going to feel really badly about that. So, when you ask is that a normal reaction, yes, it can be a very normal reaction, but what is important here is that you learn how to get through this. There are other kinds of problems that are going to come up and instead of separating, getting close to one another and developing coping skills will help you in the long run. Turning toward each other, trying to find out what is the solution, trying to open up the communication together, seeing what is going on and what can happen, and what the two of you can do to get through the problem, can really help you to set precedence for how you are going to handle your lives together. This can give you an opportunity to learn how to communicate about things and how to communicate about ways that you feel about yourselves with one another. I would try to open up those lines of communication, and again, if you are not able to do that, then the assistance of a professional who works with couples may be the next necessary step.

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