This forum is an un-mediated, patient-to-patient forum for questions and support regarding herpes issues such as: Herpes symptoms and treatments, causes, diagnosis, and herpes in men, tests, telling your spouse or partner.
My girlfriend told me she has type 2. She told me this early on, and we have restrained from sex for 4-5 months. It seems as though we are at that point now, and I want to get as much info as possible.
She found out she had it two years ago and has only had 3-4 outbreaks. She is on medication and is a generally healthy person. I have three questions I could not find answers for anywhere on the web:
1. I am a data driven person, but there seems to be inconsistent figures out there. They say the transmission rate from female to male is about 5% over one year having sex two times a week. This rate goes down by use of condom and medication. But studies show that the average person can be shedding the virus 10% of days, if not more. How can the risk get down to 1-2% if someone is shedding the virus 30-60 days out of the year?
2. I keep on seeing the figure 1/4 women have HSV 2. But I assume there are different strains. So my girlfriend has a bad strain that causes outbreaks, where the majority of other people who have never had symptoms have a less active strain. Therefore she is the 20% of the 1/4 that has somewhat frequent outbreaks. Does that mean only 1/20 women have frequent outbreaks? And I have the chance of catching a more active strain?
3. If I wear boxer briefs and a condom (penis through fly) and avoid positions such as her riding me, then my chances should be next to 0% right? I know this is not romantic at all. But it seems like her riding me would be the worst position, and there are certain positions that would avoid direct contact. And if I am wearing boxer briefs that should protect me from other areas because the virus does not go through clothes right?
Thanks for the advice. These answers are not anywhere on the web so hopefully others will benefit too.
actually there's no such thing as a "bad" strain of hsv2. It's actually more about your genes as to how often you are likely to have recurrences. regardless of how often you have obvious recurrences, the virus seems to shed about the same.
so why doesn't the math add up? because you are trying to compare the proverbial apples to oranges. daily suppressive therapy takes shedding down significantly so that the virus is only active a few weeks total out of the year. the odds of having sex when it's active is overall, even without suppressive therapy, low.
with just avoiding sex any time she has anything going on genitally, her taking daily suppressive therapy and you using a condom taking your risk on average to 1%/year, not worth trying to cover your nether regions even more. statistically it doesn't reduce your risk enough to make the extra precautions warranted. make sense?
Grace, thanks so much! That makes sense about how my genes/immune system deals with the virus.
She is definitely worth a 1% risk, but that seems so incredibly low. Because if she is shedding the virus 3/52 weeks (5.8%) even a condom will not protect me right?
Also- does shedding only happen before outbreaks, or can it happen whenever?
The reason I thought condoms are only 30-50% effective is because they do not cover the other areas such as scrotum or thighs that could have contact with infected areas. By wearing boxer briefs those areas would be covered, and therefore I would be less likely to have direct skin-on-skin contact.
Thank you again so much for the help. This is a really tough decision and your advice is greatly appreciated.
shedding can be as little as a few hours at a time in between obvious lesions. most people also seem to shed about a day prior to obvious symptoms too.
even though condoms aren't overall all that effective at preventing herpes transmission, they really do help. daily suppressive therapy is what really reduces shedding to protect you best.
I haven't transmitted the virus since the first year I was infected. I don't use condoms in long term relationships. I am always on daily suppressive therapy though. Precautions really do work :) It's the folks who aren't aware that they are infected and don't take precautions to reduce transmission that tend to transmit the virus.
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