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Avatar universal

Herpes + genital symptoms clarity.



I've been in a monogamous relationship for over 2 years. Almost three months ago I developed a rash on my penis. Coincidentally, The night I noticed this I had been exposed to poison ivy and figured I had transferred the irritant to my penis during urination... that being said, I'm a hypochondriac, and I decided that due to the area affected, I should get an std panel done. At the time I got the testing the rash was nearly fully healed, leaving scarring.. My igg antibody tests results were as follows..

type 1 - 4.5 positive
type 2 - 1.4 positive

I was quite distraught by these findings, and within a few days of testing I had another OB... Both were mild, and in the same general area, an area about the size of a nickel on the shaft, near the head of my penis. At this point I have no question to wether or not I have herpes. Now it's about 3 weeks to a month after that healed and I'm having another OB... same general area. Finally I make enough phone calls to enough doctors to see an infectious disease specialist to get a culture done, while I'm displaying symptoms, thinking this was the way to determine the type. But, I was wrong, they told me what I already knew, but not the type.

It seems that most testing is pretty indeterminate... I've never had any oral symptoms of herpes. I was under the impression that my high value of HSV 1 antibody meant that that was most likely the type I was having symptoms from. And so I was trying to determine which type was causing my genital OBs.

I'm Exhausted at this point, this has consumed me since I knew it was a possibility. I've been through every forum and research site I could find, that seemed like they had any good information to offer. My partner has never shown any symptoms, and still doesn't... But now I have to have the talk with her, and let her know that this is all confirmed. The infectious disease doctor said "she's surely been exposed to this when you were asymptomatic, and needs to know that she's at risk". So..... that makes it seem pretty hopeless, as far as protecting her at this point, which I have been taking the most precautions possible (not having sex unless I feel I'm %100, and using condoms when we do have sex, which hasn't been much since this started).  

Like I said, I'm exhausted, and I'm sure I haven't even covered all the ground I wanted to here, but I'll stop at that.

Any educated/semi-educated/experienced thoughts on any of this?


101 Responses
897535 tn?1295210035
The only way to confirm a genital HSV1 infection is by a swab/culture of active symptoms.

Your blood test most likely means you have an oral infection - genital HSV1 does not behave the way you state. I can vouch for that, I have it. Most primary genital HSV1 outbreaks are classic, painful outbreaks with obvious lesions that take about 2-3 weeks to run the course. Subsequent outbreaks (if any) may be only 1-2 minor lesions occurring maybe once or twice the first year, and every other year after. Mine has followed this pattern - which is typical for genital HSV1.

Have you been seen by your medical provider when symptomatic? Be sure you do that - we surely can't replace that - and be sure they test for fungal and bacterial infections as well.

How soon after your last (at risk) sexual encounter were you tested? Also, do you have a regular partner? Have they been tested as well?
Avatar universal
I did just recently go and have a culture test performed of active symptoms.. two days after noticing the symptoms, and when I called today the Dr. said the culture was positive for herpes.. but when I asked what type, she said they don't get type specific with their testing, which I thought was ridiculous, because isn't that the point of that test?

As for the blood test, I know it's possible to have either strain asymptomatically, but I've never in my life had a cold sore, or oral sore of any kind, and I am having genital symptoms. Although it's a little more rare to have hsv 1 genitally, I know it's possible, and that everyone's symptoms differ. My first OB, without meds, lasted a week, and then took over a week to heal, leaving scarring... and within a few days of it healing I experienced another. And then this recent bout started a few days ago. The Dr. prescribed me a weeks worth of acyclovir, on a 3 times daily regiment... since starting that, I'm having irritation away from the previous site, new sites that weren't affected before.

Like I said, I've been in a monogamous relationship now for over two years. As for "at risk" sexual encounter... I guess you can be at risk with every sexual encounter. I've been with the same person for over two years, and before that I was in other relationships. None ever alerted me to the possibility that they had an infection, because they either didn't know, or were scared to tell me... seems like the vast majority of people are pretty uneducated about all of this, myself included until 3 months ago.

My current partner had a panel done with her gynecologist, because I suspected I may have an hpv lesion on my groin, which turned out not to be the case... but I feel they probably didn't test her type specific for herpes... But she also feels that she has been tested for everything in the recent past, and all tests came back clean. So that will have to be addressed.
897535 tn?1295210035
I would call back and request the lab type your culture - they should have based on the CDC 2010 herpes testing guidelines. It's important to know which it is. For example, if it's HSV1, you most likely don't need to take suppressive therapy, as there's not data to know if it really does much - and, HSV1 sheds very little anyway (assuming again that this IS genital HSV1). I do not take Valtrex except for my rare occurance of an outbreak.

That being said, you know you have genital herpes. HOWEVER, just because a person has genital herpes, does not mean everything IS herpes related. I've had both yeast and bacterial infections and don't always know what's what without proper testing.

Here's a great resource to read about genital herpes:
http://www.westoverheights.com/genital_herpes/handbook.html

Keep asking questions!
Avatar universal
I'll certainly do that.. I had also researched and read that anti viral meds don't have much effect on HSV 1 genital infections... I can't tell if it's doing much for me because this is only my second full day of treatment.

I also understand that not everything is herpes related, but the culture test of the symptoms I'm displaying tested positive for herpes.

So unfortunately, I really need to figure out what type I'm dealing with, so i can figure out the best way to go about all of this. I'll call the Dr. tomorrow and see what she has to say.

Like you said, and from what I've read, the symptoms of HSV1 genitally, are less severe than that of HSV2... my symptoms, although frequent since the first, have been mild, tiny blisters in small areas, no pussing, or discharge, and really not painful. I've also not experienced any prodromal symptoms as a warning. But the frequency seems off. I've been really stressed about this since the first episode, and I'm sure that hasn't helped, but I still don't have all my answers, and I still have to lay everything down for my partner, in hopes that we can move forward without letting this ruin our relationship.

Thanks for the link! I'll look into that.
897535 tn?1295210035
I don't doubt that the culture was in fact positive for herpes - but you could in fact have something else going on too. Hence why it's best to be checked out for any other possibilities.

Education is key, and realize your partner may very well may have herpes as well - more than 1/2 the adult population have HSV1, and if she does, it gives her significant protection against getting it genitally. No matter what, she needs tested for both HSV1 and HSV2, regardless of your status (it's a two way street here).

It's never been an issue for me with another partner - and I'm divorced/single and have dated since my diagnosis a few years ago. Lord knows herpes is trivial compared to all the other potential high maintenance crap in a relationship!

As to typing, insist that the lab does it - they should still be able to.
Avatar universal
Other possibilities being yeast infection, bacterial infection? When I had the first symptom, I had a full std panel done.

As for the yeast/bacterial infection, would those be coming and going like the symptoms I'm having? and wouldn't they also be accompanied by other symptoms? Like I said before, I haven't been too sexually active since this all started, and when I was I was protected. I keep pretty clean otherwise.

When we have this discussion, I'm sure she will want to be tested, and I'll know more from there. For some reason, I was under the impression that if you weren't previously exposed to a virus, that you would have primary symptoms upon being infected, due to the fact that you don't have any antibodies built up in defense... but reading that back already kind of disproves that logic... because I never had a primary OB from initial exposure.
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