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Avatar universal

HSV 2 "Shedding" information please...

Hello...  My question is about "shedding".  I have HSV2 and I know that shedding happens in between breakouts (before and after).  I have recently starting taking the generic for Valtrex, have had herpes for 10 years, and my last outbreak was this past Feb 2011.  Prior to that breakout in Feb 2011, my only breakout was the initial one and another 17 days later (all ten years ago)...  I have never passed herpes on to anyone even while not on meds.

I have read about shedding but have a hard time explaining it and making my potential partner feel comfortable with an explanation of shedding.  We have read online info together about it and I know that the medicine helps lessen the strength of shedding but it is still a risk, correct?  

Please help me understand it and give me the correct words to use in order to explain it to someone that doesn't quite understand it.  He is ok with me having herpes but I want to be able to explain how shedding works and what type of risk it is to him and how we can avoid transmission.  I know it concerns him; who really wants to be exposed to it??

Thank you so much for your help & suggestions!!!
22 Responses
1174003 tn?1308160819
Glad you came here and lets jump into your questions.  I am assuming that your HSV-2 is genital.  

Shedding is where the virus is active on the skin but no symptoms are present (asymptomatic shedding).  This means there is a risk to your partner during this period of time.  The areas that have thick skin (such are your leg) do not shed but the area that has the thin skin (vaginal area and anal area) will shedd the virus.  Of course you shed the virus from the all areas when you have an active outbreak.  

Now when a person is on antiviral daily therapy they have less periods of time that they shed the virus.  There is no way to know which days you are shedding.  But if you take dialy suppresive therapy the risk to your male partner is low.  There is a 96% chance per year that he will not become infected if all you do is avoid sexual contact during times anything genital is going on.  So each year he is with you there is 96% chance he won't get HSV.  Now if you follow the same things above and add a condom in there is about a 99% chance per year that he will not be infected.  

Now the best place for information that I can give you is Terri Warren's free herpes handbook as well as her book which is titled "The Good News About The Bad News".  The book is cheap and the free handbook can be found at www.westoverheights.com.  Terri Warren is a Nurse Practitioner and also the Herpes Expert here at MedHelp.  Her clinic handles a lot of HSV cases and does a lot of studies as well.  So she has a lot of knowledge.  Read over the handbook and feel free to keep asking us questions.  There are also patient counseling videos on her site.  
101028 tn?1419603004
How were you originally diagnosed as having hsv2? was it a visual diagnosis or did you have actual testing that came back as hsv2+?

Avatar universal
Thank you for that information Mistakeguy!!!!  And yes, my HSV2 is genital.  My 1st and 2nd outbreaks (10 yrs ago) were on my left thigh and the most current outbreak (Feb 2011) was on my inner labia.  It doesn't matter where previous outbreak locations were; shedding will always occur as you noted above, correct?

I have looked at the website westoverheights.com and have already ordered the book you referenced.  Ten years ago, lots of info and forums were not as available as they are now.  Back then, I did have bloodwork done for diagnosis.  However, in the last year, I requested another bloodwork test (the type blood test you have mentioned several times Grace but I can't remember the name) and it came back positive for HSV2.  My doctor didn't mention any parameters, just that it is HSV2.

When I had the most recent outbreak, I had a tear at the top of my labia - this is a result of the outbreak, correct?  Also, even after the sore on my inner labia had healed, I had an "ache" in the back of my thigh for several days.  I have never felt this before; almost felt like I had a pulled, sore muscle...  Was this a reslut of the breakout as well?  While the ache was occuring, that is when I do not have sex, right?  (until the ache is gone).  

Thank you so much as usual!!!
Avatar universal
A few more questions -
(1)  What about him giving me oral sex?  I know it shouldn't be done while I have an obvious outbreak but how is that done safely and what precautions do we take?

(2)  With me being on daily suppressive therapy and no plans to have sex during an outbreak, would it be safe/a good idea if he did NOT use a condom?

101028 tn?1419603004
tears in the skin might not be due to your herpes. if you get one again, be seen for an exam. testing for yeast and bacterial infections vaginally are also helpful with symptoms like that since yeast especially can sometimes cause the skin to become more fragile and tear more easily.

you performing oral sex isn't an issue with genital herpes.

the risk of transmission with suppressive therapy and condoms to a male partner is 1%/year. no condoms and the risk is only increased to 2%. Keep in mind though that condoms aren't just to protect your partner - they are to protect you too!  We don't have  commercially available tests for hpv in males and proper condom use reduces transmission of hpv by 90% so they are very worthwhile for that purpose too. also make sure your partner gets a full std screening, including herpes testing.

I will gladly look at your herpes blood test results too if you want to call and get them to post here. all you need to post are your actual numeric results - e.g. hsv1 igg 5.5 and hsv2 igg 2.3 or whatever they are.
Avatar universal
Thank you Grace.  I actually did have a yeast infection at the same time as my last herpes outbreak.  To clarify, the tear was due to the yeast infection, not the outbreak, ok.

So there is a risk to me for HPV (if my partner had it) if I were to perform oral sex on him.  Even more of a reason for him to have a full std screening, I see.

I will have to call my doctor to get the igg number for my herpes test result.  Can you tell me why the number is important?  What does it tell you?

Back to my previous question - what about him performing oral sex on me?  As long as I have no visible outbreaks & take my daily suppresives, what are his risks and are there other precautions to take?

101028 tn?1419603004
this is the first time you've mentioned hpv.  does your partner have hpv?

the risk of a partner contracting hsv2 orally is low overall but not impossible. you taking daily suppressive therapy lowers the risk even more. totally up to the 2 of you if you want to utilize barrier protection or not.
Avatar universal
Grace, my potential partner has not yet been tested.  About hpv, I was just responding to your comment about condoms protecting me as well (if he were to have hpv).  I didn't consider their use for that reason, thought of it as just protecting him from my hsv2!

We are still in the "talking" stages; no sex yet.  However, I will definitely come back here often to get needed information!

Oh, is lubrication necessary during sex?  If so, what type is best?  I know that "rough" sex can cause friction and pain/sores.  And for condoms - latex is NOT a good choice right?

Thank you...
101028 tn?1419603004
oh ok, thought I had missed something!

You can get hpv orally but the risk is kinda low. have you and/or your partner had your gardasil shots yet?

lube is always a good thing with condoms. a drop or two before he applies the condom helps increase sensation for him as well as helps to reduce risk of the condom breaking. A little lube on the outside helps you too :)  

latex condoms are the right choice.
Avatar universal
Such wonderful information you pass on here!!  

We are both past the age of hpv vaccination (40's).  

Thanks again!
Avatar universal
Hi Grace,

Just got off the phone with my dr's office.  She gave me the igg values for my hsv blood test:

hsv1 = neg (0.09)
She said less than 0.90 is negative

hsv2 = pos (4.40)
She said over 1.10 is positive

1174003 tn?1308160819
Give grace a chance to look at this.  If you haven't heard from her within 24 hrs simply reply to your thread saying "bump"
101028 tn?1419603004
your hsv1 is negative.

your hsv2 is positive and above what is typically the false positive range.    sounds like you've been darn lucky and not been having a lot of recurrences to bother you! ( which is never a bad thing! )

has your partner been tested yet to know his status?
Avatar universal
Thanks Grace,,,  I definitely do feel lucky!  

My potential partner (no sex yet) and I have had many discussions about hsv and he has always said he is ok with my status no matter how many questions he's asked.  He has not yet been tested.  I've suggested to him that he should have the STD panel and to request the HSV test.  

I know his work schedule and he is truely very busy...  I don't believe he's putting off getting any tests done.  We both want sex and If we were to have sex before he is tested, would that be a mistake?  I suppose I should be strong and not let anything happen until he knows his hsv status.  If he says he is ok with my status but wants to have sex before he is tested, that is his choice correct?  However, he has said that he does not want to get it...

I have never given hsv2 to anyone and I would feel awful and guilty if he got it from me when he has said he does not want to catch it (who does tho?).  Bottom line - he should be tested prior to any sex...  Do you agree?
101028 tn?1419603004
It is his choice and protected sex with daily suppressive therapy will keep his risk minimal. All he has to do is call his doctor for the testing to be set up. Most clinics have labs they use that are open from 5 a.m up until 9 p.m so little excuses for not having the time to swing by to pee in a cup and get some blood drawn!!  This is as much about your protection from what he might have as it is protecting him :)

Avatar universal
Thanks Grace!  
Avatar universal
my bf seems similar to yours. My bf is fine with me having it, obviously its something no one wants, but I guess we are both the risk! ;)

You did everything you can do to inform him.. it would be a good idea to make sure he is tested for everything else though too.. ya know?
Avatar universal
Thanks for your input justsmile7 (plus I like your name - sure wish I could change mine!!)

I really have been looking at this whole thing from the point of view that he is the one needing protection from me.  However, I do see that I may need protection as well!  

At this point in time when we talk, I don't want every conversation to be about herpes.  So I have not mentioned the testing suggestion again.  Maybe the next time we are face to face will be a good time to bring it up.  We usually do a lot of phone talking so I will wait til our next date I guess.   :o)
Avatar universal
Hello Grace,

    I somewhat recently came out of a relationship believing my ex cheated on me. I've been seeing someone new and decided to get tested before we took our relationship any further. I have always known I have HSV-1. I've had it since I was a little kid, but I was beyond shocked when I came up positive for HSV-2. Especially since I have NEVER had anything to indicate a break out and neither did my ex. I've been doing lots and lots of reading since my doctor called me to tell me the news and I keep seeing everyone else seems to have had a test done giving a numeric result. I asked my doctor for my numeric result, I was informed my test did not give one, it was only a positive or negative test. I guess my questions are is it possible if I have a strong HSV-1, could have a weak HSV-2 that is giving a false positive? Should I retest but ask for a different type of test? I know I might be reaching for some false hope but even if I had contracted HSV-2 and I still have not shown any signs of breakouts maybe it's because I have a low positive? And if I do have a low positive does that mean I'm less likely to shed?

I'm sorry, I'm just so confused and baffled about this whole thing. Any advice or insight would help me greatly.

Thank you
Avatar universal
I have hsv2 my partner doesn't but I always use condoms I don't take any meds but I do take vitamins daily I told my about my hsv2 so we always use protection this one day the condom came of while in the middle of sex it from ruff sex that also made my period come down I only have my break outs around my anus area does that mean I was shedding can I give it to him
Avatar universal
I have hsv2 my partner doesn't but I always use condoms I don't take any meds but I do take vitamins daily I told my about my hsv2 so we always use protection this one day the condom came of while in the middle of sex it from ruff sex that also made my period come down I only have my break outs around my anus area does that mean I was shedding can I give it to him
Avatar universal
Do the #s mean anything? Like the higher the #, the longer you've had it? For years, my gyn results always came back clean. I was shocked to recently find I tested pos for hsv2 with score of 9.9. For years, once in a while, I would get a little sore bump on my left labia that I chucked off to maybe irritation caused by sex or friction from my pad as it would happen once a couple of times a year but this has been for almost 20 yrs! I felt disgusted when I found out. My new pcp order the test às part of my annual lab work ( hint: request this blood test. If you or your doc don't, you may never know! ). After crying, she explained it to me as how one carries hsv1 and people don't think too much about it, but get that tingly feeling, you buy meds, put it on and refrain from kissing. Almost the same thing. My fiancé is fine with it and getting tested. He said, if he's turns up positive, he wouldn't know if it's from me or from someone in his past since finding out how it lays dormant and some have a bad out break and some, like me, don't. We love eachother and are learning more about it together. I understand now, how this is so easily spread as people may not even be aware they have it.i don't feel "sick", and live my life normally with the exception that I treat Hsv2 kinda like HSV1 and practice sex a little differently but definitely still enjoyable, by using condoms definitely until we find out his status. With all that said, what does my high number mean? My doc said it's not a determining factor of how long I've had it, but I think it might, but who am I?
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