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Herpes after 20 years of marriage
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Herpes after 20 years of marriage

I have been with my husband for 21 years. I have had no other partners during this time. 7 months ago I had a horrible breakout (first time that I know of). Was on vacation and went to a clinic. Dr. gave me a visual exam and siad it was genital herpes. I was in shock so he did a swab and called a week later to say I had herpes. I then went to my doctor who ran multiple tests. . They came back saying I had HSV 2. My husband had a different test done. HSV2 IGG >5.0 -  HSV 1 IGG 2.94. His test was taken 3 months after my breakout. I have had 4 horrible breakouts since. Husband claims he has never had any symptoms. I am at a loss. Is >5.00 a score that could be more than 20 years old. I suppose I should have the IGG test.
15 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
The antibodies detected in the test do not produce any indication on when your husband was infected; all it tells you is that your husband does have it, and so do you since your culture came back positive. For instance, you or your husband could have another blood test in a couple weeks and the igG for HSV-2 could be 3.24 or any numerical value in the positive range.
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Avatar_n_tn
Is there any test that can be done to see how long a person has had the virus? Also, thank you for your quick response.
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Avatar_m_tn
No, there is no test to see how long a person has had the virus if one tests positive during the first blood test. Antibodies do take at least a few weeks to develop for most people, and therefore if you were to get genital symptoms within a week of exposure and have them swabbed, then your blood test would likely come back negative. After a few weeks pass, most people will be able to test positive due to antibodies developing to fight the virus, but three months is conclusive.

Here's a scenario: Christy had sex and developed blisters on her labia. She had the blisters swabbed along with a blood test for HSV-2. The swab came back positive for HSV-2 and the blood test came back negative for HSV-2. Three weeks later she got a blood test for HSV-2 and it came back positive because the antibodies take time to be able to be detected at a positive level via blood test (cultures are highly reliable).
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Avatar_n_tn
Okay, I understand that. What I don't understand is how I have my first herpes outbreak after 20 years and a husband who claims he has been faithful and has not experienced any symptoms.
Thank you again.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Yes, we have both had unprotected sex with others before our relationship. One or both of us could have been exposed and not show an obvious symptom/breakout for 20 years? Through the years I did not take birth control pills so we used condoms most of the time. We had been getting looser with the condom usage as I am approaching the age of 50.
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Avatar_m_tn
It's likely that you were recently infected, but there's really no way to tell at this point IF your blood test came back positive along with a positive culture.

To answer your question, it's possible that your husband got HSV-2 prior to you two being married. Herpes isn't really easy to catch as assumed although some people definitely get it from a first encounter, so this explains why you haven't contracted it sooner. By your husband just avoiding outbreaks puts your risk at less than 10% per year of contracting HSV-2 from him. Since your husband didn't get OBs, his shedding was likely less than symptomatic people, and so that percentage was probably lowered further. Herpes isn't contagious 365 24/7. Now you have it, and it possibly took 20 years to catch. There isn't any precautions necessary to be taken regarding your sex life with your husband; once you have the virus you won't catch it again. HSV-2 doesn't cause any health issues and is in no way dangerous with the exception to pregnancy, but even transmitting it to a baby during birth is extremely rare @ .04%.
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Avatar_n_tn
I really appreciate your responses. It is shocking at this point in my life and relationship to find myself in this position. I know I am now suppose  to check a box on my medical records that I have never had to check before and certainly at this point never thought I would. I see the statistics you have given me, I just find it very hard to believe. That is something that you are not able to answer for me. Fidelity or infidelity.....
Thanks so much.
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Avatar_n_tn
One more thing. We hadn't had sex for 2 months when I had my outbreak. It was the one month I missed my period. I was thinking perimenopause may have brought a breakout about and that maybe I could have actually had herpes for 20 years. My period came back and the horrible breakouts continued. Most likely I got it from him.
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Avatar_m_tn
From your horrible breakout it sounds like this is a recent infection, but there really is no way for me to say. The statistic of 80% of people don't know they have herpes is not because they have no symptoms for the most part rather it is because symptoms are so mild that they are mistaken for something else. With that said, the primary outbreak is the worst in most, if not all cases, so since you haven't noticed anything in the past then this is most likely your primary outbreak.

Menopause really doesn't have an effect on outbreaks. Herpes outbreaks in regards to symptoms is more of a genetic predisposition (i.e. some people will get much more mild symptoms due to genetics while others will get full blow recurring symptoms) than anything. Your immune system probably helps a bit, but since herpes attacks when the immune system is at it's lowest, it's hard to say how much of an impact it has. I understand you're upset that you now have to check a box regarding HSV-2. In regards to life insurance, if you have HSV-2, unfortunately you can be denied coverage or pay a much higher rate. Even though the vast majority of the population, at least 50-90% of folks have HSV-1, they are still able to get insurance. HSV-2 is a different story at least in the insurance companies eyes due to the fact that more people are on antivirals with HSV-2 than are with HSV-1. However, medication really isn't necessary for either especially HSV-1. With your HSV-2, there is no need to really be on daily suppressive medication unless you have another partner who is HSV-2 negative or if you experience frequent and extreme outbreaks.

If you've never had another sexual partner (involving genital to genital sex) in your life then there is no absolute way to know if you got HSV-2 from your husband or not. The same applies for him; if he had a partner previous to marriage there is always a possibility he got it from another source and either ignored symptoms, mistook the symptoms to be something else, or really had no symptoms. Since both of you have it now, it won't be an issue regarding any sex act between the two of you. HSV-2 is pretty common with about 1 in 5 people being infected, and poses no significant health risks.
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101028_tn?1348750963
actually when you go through menopause, it's not unusual to see changes in herpes patterns.   bv especially increases with hormonal changes and we know that bv triggers hsv2 to be more active. also the decreases in estrogen to the actual genital skin causes the vaginal area to be dryer which causes more "trauma" during sex which can trigger more recurrences.

will you likely ever figure out who had hsv2 first in your relationship at this point? no you will not. odds are that neither of you were ever tested for it before this to help narrow down the time when either of you were infected. You could've even had this for years and never had obvious symptoms until now.  

do you know what blood test came back as hsv2+ by your regular doctor since you stated that perhaps you should have igg testing done?

grace
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for all of your responses. I actually slept very well after these posts. I have not really been able to speak about this other than to my doctor and it has been really difficult. Having information in black and white is nice because I am actually able to read and refer to it. At my appts. it has been too emotional for me to take in anything other than I have herpes.
Thanks again.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Grace,
Thank you. I accessed my medical records/tests online. I do not actually see the test for HSV 2 on it, I was also tested for HIV at the same time. In the doctor's comments it said the  HIV test was negative. I have put a call into the office. It may be that a HSV2 blood test was never drawn, just the culture.
I feel like I remember a Herpes test being taken when I was pregnant 15 years ago. If that is the case than it came back negative.I will also ask about that.
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101028_tn?1348750963
if you only had a lesion culture done, no reason for more blood testing at this point - you know what you have and where.

keep asking questions!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Grace,
I did hear back form my doctor. No there was not a blood test drawn for herpes. I did not have one taken during my pregnancy as I did not believe I had it or that it was a possibility. So, I guess I am done with my testing. I do appreciate this board and the people who share their knowledge. It is a safe place to ask questions. My doctor is much cooler with her responses, this site feels more supportive.
Thank you.
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101028_tn?1348750963
we'll be here if you think of more questions :)
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