A diagnosis of herpes often comes as a shock and can leave you asking “how did this happen to me?”. Well, there are many possibilities and some you might find surprising.
Examining the Possibilities
How long before symptoms typically show?
The herpes virus can lay dormant for various time periods and may be in your system for a time period before any symptoms begin to show. The usual incubation period of the virus (time before any symptoms show) is approximately two to twelve days after the first exposure to the virus.
Has My Partner Been Unfaithful?
If you are in a relationship and you or your partner have just been diagnosed with herpes it does not necessarily mean that either of you have been unfaithful.
It is possible to be monogamous in a relationship AND have an outbreak or diagnosis occur for the first time.
Here is how and why herpes can come up in a monogamous relationship…
Herpes can sometimes show no symptoms at all
One of you may be a “carrier” of the herpes virus. This means that you may never have experienced any symptoms but could still transmit it to your partner. A blood test will help determine if a person has been exposed to herpes by testing for “antibodies”. Blood tests can also indicate if it is a recent or primary infection.
Symptoms appear differently for each person
The Herpes virus can show little to no symptoms in one partner but cause blisters and pain for the other. It all depends on the person and how their body deals with the virus.
You can get Genital Herpes from a Cold Sore
Yep, a cold sore. If you receive oral sex from a person who experiences cold sores (even if they haven’t seen one in a long time) this can transfer the virus to the genitals — even if the person was not showing a cold sore at the time of contact. Cold sores and fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are spread by direct skin to skin contact. When a cold sore infection spreads to the genitals it is commonly a HSV-1 genital infection.
The infection might be old, but this could be the first sign of symptoms
The herpes virus can lay in a dormant, sleep like state and not cause any outbreaks or symptoms — sometimes for years. Then, once in a blue moon (normally when your immune system is a little run down) it may decide to show itself.
Previous symptoms may not have been recognized
There may have been signs of herpes before but they were dismissed as being nothing important because they were so small or insignificant. Some outbreaks consist of just redness, inflammation, resembling a paper-cut, tear or pimple. Just because it looks like the “first outbreak” doesn’t necessarily mean it is.
Different herpes types and where they can appear
There are actually two types of the herpes simplex virus:
- Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1), and
- Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2)
HSV1 or mouth herpes are commonly in the form of cold sores on and around the mouth. HSV2 or genital herpes is a more intense strand commonly found on the genitals. However BOTH types can be found on the mouth or genital areas.
Genital herpes can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. It can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. HSV-2 infection is usually passed on during vaginal or anal sex. HSV-1 is usually transmitted to the genital area by oral sex (mouth to genital contact).
It is possible for a person to carry the virus without knowing that they have it, since up to 80% of people who are infected with HSV-2 show no signs of the infection. So, it is very easy for a person to unwittingly transmit the infection to their partner.