Can herpes lay dormant in your body ?

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    Hello, I was recently discovered with herpes type 1 during the summer . Was taken a back by it considering I’m in a 4 year relationship. My swears to me he didn’t do anything but it’s hard for me to believe that . We read online that herpes can be dormant in your body for years before your first initial outbreak . Is this true ??


    First, to put what looks to be a misunderstanding to rest, and hopefully ease your mind regarding your relationship, HSV1 is also commonly called “cold sores”. It sounds as though you may have it confused with HSV2, which is referred to as “genital herpes”.

    A great percentage of the population has HSV1, often from childhood. Kids have an HSV1 outbreak (aka a cold sore), drink out of a cup, then share the cup with their friends and they drink from it and catch it. Teenager (or adults) kiss someone who has it and catch it. It is a virus and therefore contagious.

    You did not mention where on your body you have broken out. Here is the tricky part. Typically people have HSV1 breakouts on the mouth. This doesn’t indicate any kind of sexual activity took place. Now here’s the “however”…a person can get HSV1 on their genitals after catching it by engaging in oral sex with someone who has the HSV1 virus.

    From what you have written it seems your biggest concern is that he cheated on you. Since you have HSV1 – the kind that is the cause of primarily “cold sores”, either of you could have had it for years.

    To answer your other questions, HSV1 and HSV2 can both be asymptomatic for a long time. Most people don’t even know when or how they got HSV1 since so many people have it in childhood.

    My husband is an example of this. He’s had HSV1 since childhood. He can’t remember when he had his first outbreak (on lip), and I recall him having one or two when we were dating and the first few years of our marriage. He hasn’t had an outbreak in many years (like at least 12), however he still tests positive for it and always will. Interestingly, I test negative for HSV1, but have HSV2, and have had it for almost 30 years. (We’ve been married 28 years.). My husband is negative for HSV2.

    I had a major outbreak during the covid lockdowns. Stress combined with menopause. Hurray! I was shocked to find out I was HSV2 positive. In hindsight I realize that I had very mild outbreaks over the past 30 years, but they were mild enough that I chalked it up to ingrown hairs, from shaving, etc. This more recent outbreak was very painful though, and it couldn’t be denied. That was about 2 years ago. I’ve had outbreaks since then. At first every 3 months, now it’s over 6 months and has returned to the “minor” outbreaks I now realize I had during the course of the past 30 years. So yes. Either type of HSV can be dormant or so mild that you don’t realize you even have it, then a major physical or emotional stressor can cause a more intense outbreak that causes you to realize something is going on.

    I hope this helped to put your mind at ease a bit.


    Rosepetalthorns, how have you kept from transmitting HSV2 to your husband? How did he take the news?

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