There can be so much shame, guilt when you’re diagnosed and a feeling like your life is over.
But believe it or not, having herpes is way more common than you think.
If you’ve been carrying around this deep dark secret for years…you’re not alone!
A high percentage of the population of both women and men have it, or are carriers of herpes and don’t even know it.
So, it’s time to clear up the misconceptions about herpes, as it’s doesn’t have to be a life sentence…otherwise, it can negatively effect your self-esteem and self-confidence in dating.
When you finally meet a man who you have a special connection with…at some point, you’ll be faced with having to have a conversation with him about it.
Your mind starts racing…
WHEN should I bring this up to him?!
And HOW should I bring this up to him?!
This conversation can bring on a great deal of anxiety and panic.
You start feeling like you don’t want to bring it up to him…but, you know you have to be responsible.
And that’s when your mind starts going down the rabbit hole…
What if he freaks out?
What if he doesn’t want to see me anymore?
What if he gets turned off and doesn’t want to sleep with me?
Before you go down the rabbit hole of despair, I’m sharing with you an easy way to have this conversation with a man you’re dating in my amazing interview, “It’s Never Too Late…To Reclaim Your Power After an STD Diagnosis” with Life & Love Transformational Coach, Suzanne Oshima.
Did you know that herpes symptoms in women can be confused with many common conditions? 85% of people with herpes don’t know they have it! Common symptoms include blisters, sores, itchy areas, tingling, burning, painful urination, skin fissures and cracks, skin ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, depression, pain down the leg, flu like symptoms, body aches and watery vaginal discharge; but how do you know if it is herpes? I have worked with women who were misdiagnosed with several other ailments before they were ever PROPERLY diagnosed with herpes.
Why does this happen?
Herpes is truly the Great Masquerader. Doctors and patients alike misdiagnose herpes all the time. Here is a chart of what women with herpes think they have and what men with herpes think they have.
What Women With Herpes Think They Have
What Men With Herpes Think They Have
Urinary Tract Infection
Insect or Spider Bite
Allergy to condoms, spermicides, sperm, elastic/pantyhose
Allergies to condoms
Irritation from bike seat, shaving, douching
Irritation from bike seat, tight jeans, sexual intercourse
As you can see, it would be very easy to misdiagnosis herpes in women AND men. So, if you have any or many of these symptoms, especially if they are reoccurring, I suggest that you seek medical advice. You have to take control of your health and sometimes it means challenging your doctor’s diagnosis. There have been times when I have encouraged women to demand a herpes blood test. Not knowing can drive you crazy! A simple blood test paired with a thorough exam can determine your herpes status. You can find a herpes testing center near you. I also recommend getting screened for other STI’s.
If you end up testing positive for herpes, Pink Tent (TM) is here it support you. We are committed to educate, empower and inspire women with herpes to live, love and thrive. If you reside in the Boulder/Denver area, check our www.ColoradoHFriends.com. We host monthly discussion groups, social events and women’s brunches. Take a stand for your health and get tested!
As a doctor, transformational coach, and 20-year carrier of the herpes virus, I have the unique opportunity of openly talking about the emotional pain and stigma that a herpes diagnosis brings.
I start all my coaching calls with a quick meditation, to center my clients and to have them receive a glimpse of peace and tranquility. After they become more conscious of their breath and their thoughts slow down a bit, I ask them to tell me their story about living with herpes.
For many women, this is their first opportunity to disclose their deep, dark secret of herpes and with it often comes tears and despair. I sit quietly as they share and open their hearts to a stranger, whom they know will not judge them. I too had to tell my story for the first time when I was 23 years old and I remember how painful and humbling that story was.
After they are able to share their whole story from past to present, I tell them that we are going to take some time to look into their future. I ask them to “wave a realistic magic wand and tell me what it is that they want to create in the next 6 months to a year in terms of health and romance.”
It is at this very point when the phone line often goes silent and their voice quivers, their breath becomes choppy again and tears start pouring down their faces. Many women are nearly speechless at this point because the thought of their future seems bleak.
They start by sharing everything that they DON’T WANT, like the…
–SHAME of herpes
-feeling DIRTY or DAMAGED or
-constantly thinking about the symptoms of herpes
And then I ask again with a loving voice and an open heart, I ask…if that is what you don’t want, what do you want?
It is so hard for them to answer this question about their future, for many of them have absolutely given up hope.
With some guidance, I ask them if I were to have asked them before their diagnosis, what would they say. Many then say that they actually want a loving relationship and partnership. They want open communication, a companion, someone to love them and someone to share their lives with. Many also would love to start a family and have happy and healthy children.
With some coercing, if they are single, I ask….if you could, would you want to get married someday? And then the truth comes out….
They would love to say Yes To The Dress
and yet the fear of rejection, isolation, feeling dirty and shameful or fearing that their secret might get out there stops them dead in their tracks.
That is what I often serve on my first conversation with women with herpes.
Hope, Healing, and Happiness are still available for any woman with herpes.
While you might not want to get married, herpes should not keep you from living out your dreams of vibrant health, love, and partnership.
I forget who said…”Without a vision people perish” and yet I know it is true.
Wherever you are on your journey with herpes, I am here to tell you that it is time to start dreaming again.
Start by asking yourself these questions 1. What do I want? 2. What would I need to believe to create this in my life? 3. What actions would I need to take?
It all starts with a little bit of hope and a vision for what you really want.
I was diagnosed with genital herpes at 23 years old and I thought my life was ruined. I am here today to tell you that I am living the life of my dreams, happily married and raising an amazing little girl.
I would never have thought this could be a reality.
If you are a woman with herpes in despair, start dreaming again and then take one action today in the direction of your dreams.
Reach out and get the support you need.
There is no cure but community.
Get Coached Today! Claim Your Complimentary Session Here
An hour before the moon eclipsed the sun, I found myself listening to a live podcast of a reverend sharing how the solar eclipse “called on the shadow side of humanity to step up.”
After hearing this, I decided to step up and share on Facebook live; in order to bring light and understanding to the more recent Usher herpes scandal.
The shadow side of a genital herpes diagnosis leaves women feeling unworthy of love, shameful, dirty, damaged and all alone. It can plummet a woman’s self-esteem and self-confidence, leaving many depressed and even suicidal.
While this diagnosis is common, very few people are talking about it, unless of course, you follow the pop star, Usher, and the herpes scandal.
If you haven’t heard about it, Usher is being sued for non-disclosure of his herpes status to 3 women and 1 man that he allegedly slept with. In the state of California, it is illegal to expose a partner without disclosing one’s herpes status.
It is my mission in life to bring hope, healing and happiness to people with herpes.
While the Usher herpes scandal has brought up fear in those with herpes, I perceive it as a beautiful opportunity to educate the world about herpes and increase acceptance of this often unfairly stigmatized and common diagnosis.
Pink Tent™ is dedicated and poised to do just that.
It is a safe haven for Women Supporting Women with Herpes. We have a women’s only online forum, Secrets To Success course, coaching and other resources.
For most, genital herpes is just a skin rash and it doesn’t cause anything else!
When it comes to intimacy, I do agree that we should always disclose, but what about the majority of people who don’t know they have it? How can we protect ourselves even when we do disclose, if a great partnership goes bad and it becomes one person’s word against another? What other problems and myths does this Usher story bring to the light?
Listen in on this live Facebook conversation as I share the truth about herpes and how I can help you or your partner, friend, or daughter who is struggling.
A Partner’s Perspective On Herpes- Richard’s Story
Contributing Author- Richard Schuh
I am the luckiest man alive. I have the good fortune to wake up every morning to see, and be, with my wife Kelly. You may know her as Dr. Kelly Martin Schuh. Yes, the herpes doctor.
I’m so proud of her for so many reasons. Number one, because she made the choice (with my support) to not hide behind a pen name when she wrote her book. Why? Because she has nothing to be ashamed of and it would be inauthentic to her message.
If you have read her book, Kelly contracted the herpes virus in a manor that most people don’t realize is even possible. Another reason I’m so proud of her is because she did not let this one event define or confine her life.
Kelly said to me one day, “I wish there was a community of women supporting women with herpes.” As Oprah would say- “An aha moment”
That’s how pinktent.com was born. I’m so proud & inspired by her courage, strength and grace in giving women worldwide a safe place to find community, education and inspiration around a very difficult subject.
My wife is uniquely qualified to be the accidental expert. She is a woman, doctor and carrier of the H virus. Yes, my wife has herpes. The entire world knows. Who cares! And guess what? Much of the world’s population also has herpes and 85% don’t know it. This is wrong. I call it a crisis. If a woman is sexually active, she needs to know the facts about herpes. Why? Because 1 in 6 men and 1 in 4 women in her potential dating pool has it!
News flash:Guys are clueless. They think it’s a rash or jock itch. How many guys do you think are going to voluntarily go into a doctor’s office for anything? Much less an STD test. Ladies, it’s up to you as a community of women to have these conversations with the women in your life about the prevalence of herpes. Guys certainly are not going to do it. H does not discriminate. It effects us all equally and has no regard to our race, class, age or education.
Herpes is everywhere. It is a part of a family of viruses that are so common. Those Blistex commercials on TV? Cold sores. What are cold sores? HSV-1 or type one herpes simplex virus, the same virus that can cause genital herpes. Does the commercial mention herpes? No. Those commercials for shingles? Once again, a member of the herpes family of viruses known as herpes zoster. Have you ever had chicken pox? It’s a form of the herpes virus known as herpes varicella. You are not alone. Why are women not having these conversations? Guys certainly are not.
People want to know how I felt when Kelly told me. Let me be clear. I was blown away. I was blown away by her integrity to tell me before we made love for the first time. I was blown away by how calm she was. It was a Sunday night and we just had an awesome day together. We had talked about a wide range of things all day long. We had been dating for about a month and we were talking about our first road trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico.
She eased into it by telling me she loved me. I had already told her first and we talked about how well everything was going. She asked as many questions as I did on a wide range of subjects before she told me, so it was very much a two way conversation.
Tip: Never tell a dude “We need to talk”
How did she tell me? Kelly asked me for confidentiality. She told me she cared enough about me to tell me- “I have herpes”. If I could describe my reaction, it would have been one word. Shocked. I knew she was not promiscuous. She told me how it happened and then said “this is what you need to know…”. She gave me the facts and the rates on transmission as calm as could be.
I was shocked to learn how hard it would be for her to pass herpes on to me with the right precautions. Kelly told me how herpes has no cure, but that she had learned how to very effectively manage her symptoms. It really came down to that if she had an outbreak that I would be the first one to know and that we would simply abstain till it passed. I looked at it as no different that her menses. Everything else would be normal; and it was and still is.
Kelly asked me if I had ever been tested for STD’s and I had. I had just moved to Boulder and my doctor just did a full panel of blood work. I learned later herpes is not included in a standard STD blood panel. The why to that one is total babaganoush, but that’s another subject.
I was happy and healthy. Kelly said she wanted to move forward in our relationship, but from a place of full disclosure and integrity. She wanted and needed to tell me about her “health history”.
She gave me space for a day or two and I came to my own conclusion. I would have a 1-2% chance of getting this? I take greater risks in my business and everyday life! I loved this women and we had just established a level of emotional intimacy that I had never known before. We had opened up a level of communication where we could talk about anything, on any level, based on trust and respect. That’s a pretty good way to start a relationship in my book.
As I had revealed in her book, I had my own stuff. I had abused alcohol and had a drinking problem for years. I was two+ years sober when I met Kelly on March, 9th 2008. No treatment. No meetings. No story.
On January 1st, 2005, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just knew what I was NOT going to do. I had one thing on my “Do not do list” – Don’t drink. Then I tried something I had never tried before. I gave myself permission to treat myself better than I had even done before. My first 6 months of sobriety was pure hell, but I kept moving forward. My silver lining was the life I had always imagined that I’m living now. I had made it through to the other side and I thank my lucky stars everyday.
I know Kelly would not have given the OLD ME the time of day. I might have gotten a coffee date, but that’s about it. I’m now in my 12th year of no alcohol, no prescription drugs and no sleeping pills (with one bump in the road). I choose sobriety. I don’t stay sober for anyone but myself. All I know for sure is, life is a whole lot easier.
I love this quote from one of my mentors- “People (especially guys) totally overestimate what they can do in a short amount of time. As well, we totally underestimate what we can do over a long period of time.” (10+ years) Tony Robbins.
Use this moment in time as an opportunity to reset your life. Don’t expect anything significant in a day, a month or a year. Where could you be in 5 or 10 years? How about 20!
I proposed to Kelly on my birthday, September 9th, six months to the day after I had met her. Our good friend David had set us up on a blind date. We were married the following summer on June 20th, 2009. All of our friends and family, plus the caterers, photographers and musicians said it was the most fun wedding they had ever been to. We got married in a light rain and then rocked the big tent with 85 of our best friends all night long.
Our daughter Maddie Piper was born the next year on July 5th, 2010. I’m the luckiest guy. I won the lottery- Twice.
So how does herpes effect our lives? It doesn’t. If Kelly has an outbreak we deal with it. How do you erase stigma? Talk about it.
For those of you who have read Live, Love, and Thrive with Herpes, you know how this story ends. Seven years ago after I was in a state of high stress from my business, I had a strange rash you-know-where. I asked Kelly what it was and she said instantly- “herpes.” My instant reaction was – no way!
Now I know the common assumption would be that Kelly gave it to me, but I had been having this same rash, in the same place, once or twice a year since college. I was actually able to trace it back to the person who probably gave it to me. Remember when I said guys are clueless? Count me in. I was never able to put 2+2 together. I have had herpes for over 30 years. I’m part of the 85% of people who have herpes, but did not know it.
In closing, Kelly is the smartest, healthiest and happiest women I have ever known. I’m a very lucky man. I get to be her husband. That road trip to Sante Fe? It was the best 3-day date ever. We’ve been together ever since that day. We will celebrate 8 years of marriage this June. Maddie, our daughter, will be 7 in July.
Sometimes our darkest moments in life can give us the greatest opportunities for growth. Kelly took her darkest moment and made the choice to light it up with the brightest light to create the real cure for herpes. Community.
Hello Ladies! I am so excited to share with you that my exclusive Secrets to Success: Foundations Course is now open for registration for the next few days only!
While some women are just sick and tired of being sick and tired (these are the women registered and going though the course right now), I know that there are some of you who are fearful to say YES.
You are sitting on the fence on this one. You tell yourself that you’ll figure it out…SOMEDAY
Or wait until that partner comes knocking to figure out how to have the talk.
How do I know this?
Because I have worked with women from around the world with H. Not having an outbreak today? Not dating anyone? Feeling okay today?
Then for today, you might be able to cover up your PAIN and SHAME. But eventually it WILL resurface. And when it does, you will regret not giving yourself the EDUCATION and TRANSFORMATION you deserve.
While this course is NOT for women who are unwilling to learn and grow, this IS for women who are ready to conquer this diagnosis and once and for all feel EMPOWERED, PEACEFUL, and PASSIONATE again.
This course is only offered about twice a year and includes 4 live calls with me, access to the private Facebook group full of other women to support you, as well as a ton of bonus material that you can work on at your own pace! You will receive lifetime access to the course materials, so you can go back to it time and again. By registering today, you have instant access the the virtual course (live calls start March 12th).
Everything can be done in the privacy of your own home as you can choose to remain as anonymous as you want. There will be no mention of H on invoices and nothing will be snail mailed to you.
I am so certain that this course can transform your life…I have a 365 Day Money Back Guarantee
Ready to start this journey with me?
Registration Is Now Closed For Spring 2017 Registration Course
Want to be notified when registration opens again for the Secrets To Success: Foundations Course? Fill out the form below!
Dating With Herpes- When Do You Tell Your Partner?
I recently found this great article from Self.com where women shared their experiences and advice when it comes to dating with herpes. I have personally connected with one of the ladies in this article, Janelle Davis, and feel that she is doing an excellent job of educating the public about herpes through her media outreach and STD Project.
When it comes to disclosure, I agree with her that it is better to wait to have the talk. There seems to be a golden window of opportunity. Disclosing on a first date is just too much information for most people. It also does not give them a chance to really get to know you or to figure out if they are even interested in being intimate with you. On the other hand, if you wait too long, partners often feel as if they have been betrayed or strung along.
So, when is the right time?
It really depends on the relationship that is developing. Some relationships move extremely fast these days and partners find themselves having sex on the first date. Other partnerships start out as just being friends and slowly move towards romance. In today’s fast moving sexual culture we find ourselves in, I encourage women to take their time and get to know their partners before having sex. I would definitely wait at least 3 dates and maybe wait as long as a month or so before disclosing. As a RULE, never expose your partner before telling them. Care for your partners as you would want them to care for you!
If you are dating with an STD, the good news is that there are several people out there who are able and willing to be with you, no matter what! You are deserving of love and worth having the right partner by your side. If your comfort level is to date within the STD community, by all means do so. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to be restricted in your dating life, be bold and go out there and date whomever you please. You are worth it!
Many anthropologists, sociologists, and feminist theorists have explored the reasoning behind women’s sexuality, or rather the reasoning for the almost absence of women’s sexuality in today’s society. Because women’s ability to have sexual desires based on their own personal desires, and not those of a man, is frequently discredited by mainstream society, women’s sexuality automatically becomes discredited as a whole. The idea that sexuality is socially constructed based on things we learn from media, religion, schools, and other great institutions is a common theory.
Scholars in this area have also taken specific interest in the way that an STD diagnosis might affect how a person experiences sexuality based on the social construction and meaning on the diagnosis.
Women’s sexuality is already invalidated, so an STD diagnosis simply invalidates it further based on her supposed deviation form the female sexual norm (having sexual desires, acting upon them, and being diagnosed with an STD because of those actions).
There are plenty of articles and scholarly works out there discussing this issue from an outside perspective, but I would like to share my personal experience of dealing with my new sexual identity after being diagnosed with herpes. I would like to emphasize that my perspective is very heterosexual, for lack of a better term, but I believe there will be plenty of parallels for those who identify elsewhere on the spectrum.
As I feel many young women believe when they first begin to experience their sexual selves, my sexuality was based solely on what I thought my male partner wanted.
Neither the media, school, nor my parents had ever taught me what sex or intimacy should be from a woman’s perspective. It was always based on heterosexual male pleasure.
That being the case, when I learned I had herpes I felt I could no longer fulfill those sexual desires for someone else again because I was no longer desirable to men based on my new label as a “sexual deviant.”
I would like to break down my experience into stages that coincide with Dr. Kelly’s “Stages of Grief” in her book Live, Love, & Thrive with Herpes in hopes that many of you can connect to one, a few, or maybe even all of them as you begin to find sexual freedom after your diagnosis.
Stages to Sexual Freedom:
Reference Stage One: Trauma and Denial, and Stage Two: Feelings of Rage from Dr. Kelly’s “Stages of Grief”
Reference Stage Three: Profound and Prolonged Sadness
Fear of Control
This stage triggers Stage Four of the “Stages of Grief,” Communicating and Reaching Out
Reference Stage Five: Surrender and Acceptance, and Stage Six: Empowerment
Avoidance (Trauma and Denial/Feelings of Rage)
When I was first diagnosed I had an irrational fear of spreading herpes to anyone I had any sexual contact with at all. I say irrational, because as I learned more about the transmission of the virus, I discovered there are plenty of ways to reduce the likelihood of transmission as well as ways avoid the possibility of transmission completely.
Because of my fear, during this stage I completely avoided any situation that could lead to sexual desire, including dating.
Trauma and Denial, as Dr. Kelly emphasizes in her book, played a huge role in my avoidance. The trauma of my diagnosis as well as my denial made disclosure impossible at the time. I was not ready to disclose my situation with someone, and I knew I had to do so before becoming intimate again.
Settling (Profound and Prolonged Sadness)
Looking back on my journey, this stage brings me the most sadness, which directly relates to Dr. Kelly’s explanation of Stage Three in her book.
During the “Settling” stage my mind set was to “take what I can get.” If a man said he loved me or that he found me irresistible despite my herpes I thought I had to reciprocate those feelings. This is because I thought it was so incredibly rare for a man to feel these things about me after my diagnosis that it might be my only chance to find love or intimacy again.
After going through this stage, my blunt advice is that this is NOT TRUE. There will be many men or women that love you and find you undoubtedly sexy not despite your herpes, but almost by virtue of your herpes and the woman it has created.
Fear of Control (Communicating and Reaching Out)
This stage was by far the longest of the four because it took me so long time to understand my thought process during it.
As women we already sometimes feel a lack of control with our sexuality and sexual decisions based on the submissiveness we learn from society. After I began to seek intimacy again after settling for men I did not necessarily desire, I found it… but on someone else’s terms.
I believed that I no longer had the right to share my opinions about what I desired sexually because it was unfair to ask someone to put himself at risk for my pleasure. What I learned after verbally expressing my thoughts to loved ones was that I have just as much control over how I experience sex and intimacy as I did before.
I was afraid to take control of my sexuality again because that could mean putting someone else at risk. What I didn’t realize is that if I had disclosed my diagnosis and shared the transmission risks with my partner I had done my part in keeping him safe.
This is where Dr. Kelly’s stage on communicating and reaching out becomes so important. Without my ability to do so, I may not have allowed control back into my intimate experiences.
Freedom (Surrender and Acceptance/Empowerment)
After effectively communicating and finding the ability to reach out and seek advice from friends and family, I am finally able to enjoy my sexuality and be at peace with my diagnosis.
I have accepted that I cannot have spontaneous sexual encounters without putting others at risk, and I now understand how that is not at all a curse; it is actually a true blessing.
I have accepted that I need to be at a more intimate level with someone before I share my sexuality with them in order to feel comfortable and in control of the situation. Once again, this has proved to be a huge blessing in my life.
Finally, I have accepted that my herpes diagnosis has not hindered or tainted my sexuality in any way, but rather it has forced me to embrace every piece of my self in order to find true intimacy with another person.
I encourage you all, as I always do, to find the silver lining in situations where you feel that your herpes might have given you the short end of the stick. I can guarantee that once you start searching, you will find all the amazing ways that herpes has allowed you to grow as a woman in every way, including your sexual being.
Has your diagnosis of herpes or another STD ruined your sex life?
Have you lost your sex drive and feel like you are dirty, damaged goods?
Do you forget what it’s like to enjoy your sexuality?
You are not alone! These feelings and experiences are common amongst women with herpes and other STD’s.
The good news is that you can get your sex life back and feel like a confident, sensual woman again. There are ways to still enjoy that side of life and have FUN with it.
Pink Tent™, LLC and Dr. Kelly Martin Schuh has teamed up with a local member of our community to host a Pure Romance Passion Party. This isn’t about sharing or discussing anything, but rather empowering ourselves, meeting others and maybe learning a few new things and laughing….A LOT together.
While this isn’t your mother’s tupperware party, this is a classy, educational Pure Romance Party led by a Pure Romance local consultant.
Everyone must be 18 or older! Your confidentiality is protected and ordering is discreet. All orders will go directly to your house with no one knowing what you ordered.
Come join us at a member’s home (Sheila, our host) in Littleton, Colorado for an evening of laughter, silliness and fun in a totally confidential and safe environment.
This is a double treat as 20% of the total sales will be donated to Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build.
So come over, have some fun, meet other women, and help a great cause. Light refreshments will be served.
Location: Littleton, CO (address will be revealed after RSVP received)
Are You Ready To Reclaim Your Health And Happiness?
If you are a woman living with herpes, I wanted to also invite you to a FREE 30 minute one-on-one coaching session with me. I will show you how to transform your feelings of Victimhood and Reclaim Your Health and Passions For Life!
Are you afraid no one will ever love you again?
Do you ask yourself, Why me?
Are you worried you’ll never have children or a healthy sex life?
Are you in shock or dealing with physical pain?
You Are Not Alone!
Sign up today and receive a FREE Reclaiming Your Health and Happiness one-on-one session with me.
In this 30 minute session you will…
– Get Clear. As specifically as possible, decide what you want. Want to learn to Manage Your Symptoms, Rebuild Your Immunity, 10X Your Love Life, Feel Normal and Happy Again? The clearer you are on what you want to have in your life, the more likely you are to achieve it.
– Get Perspective. Many of you have never shared your story or struggles with anyone! Get a perspective from me: a woman, doctor, and HSV carrier.
– Get Support. Very few people (if any) achieve anything great alone. Receive the love and support you so deserve.
Hope, Healing & Happiness is Possible.
Get Empowered. Get the Facts. Enter your email address to download Dr. Kelly's FREE Fact Sheet now!