Tag: herpes

Overcoming Stigma and Finding your Unique Path

Overcoming Stigma and Finding your Unique Path

By Contributing Author Stephanie

I watched this video quite a few months ago and for a long time did not understand my connection to Eleanor Longden or her struggle with mental health.  After much contemplation I began to understand my ability to empathize with her and be overwhelmingly inspired by her journey.  Although her experience with schizophrenia is vastly different than my own experience with herpes, the fact of the matter is we both had to overcome societal stigma and as well personal stigma against our conditions.

To me, the most inspirational part of Eleanor’s story is her ability to not only overcome that stigma but to do so in a way that defied the norms of medicine and treatment for her condition.  By overcoming the stigma associated with schizophrenia she was able to work with her symptoms and hardships in order to create a meaningful interaction with her voices.  What she teaches any of us going through the process of overcoming stigma to promote healing is that doing so will allow you to experience your stigmatized identity in a way that is actually beneficial. For those of us dealing with a new herpes diagnosis, or the trauma that comes along with an outbreak after years of living with the virus, it is important to interact with our condition and symptoms in a compassionate way.  My ability, and i’m sure many of yours, to understand Eleanor’s hardships is a perfect example of one way herpes has been beneficial in my life.  Being able to feel true compassion and empathize for others in seemingly completely different situations than your own is a true gift that I may not have today without my diagnosis.

I hope you all find as much inspiration in Eleanor’s story and her ability to overcome stigma associated with her voices as I have; and I hope it inspires you all to find your unique path to health and happiness in your acceptance of your diagnosis.  


About Stephanie

Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie.  I was diagnosed with HSV-2 in April of 2014 when I was 22 years old.  Right now, almost three years later, I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Purdue University.  I recently completed my MA in sociology at the University of Northern Colorado where I explored the role of stigma in the process of disclosing a genital herpes diagnosis.  With that said, if anyone is interested in reading what I discovered in my project, I am happy to share that with you! I plan to continue advocating for our community, as well as studying the social factors that influence sexual health in order to understand how we can create a world that is easier for people diagnosed with STIs.  I really enjoy writing for the Pink Tent community and am excited to be able to share some of my experiences and thoughts about living with genital herpes with you all.

Herpes Treatment: Lemon Balm for Herpes

Lemon balm remedies for herpesHerpes Treatment: Lemon Balm for Herpes
By Contributing Auther: Stephanie

One of my main concerns with herpes treatment is my ability to control the virus naturally without effecting other areas of my body.  Lemon balm is used in herpes treatment as a natural home remedy to reduce the replication of the herpes virus.  Here, you will learn many of the different ways you can use lemon balm for herpes outbreak treatment and prevention, in hopes that you will find the perfect remedy for your lifestyle!

Lemon balm, scientifically known as Melissa officinalis, was shown in a 2004 study to effectively reduce the rate of of replication of both type 1 and 2 of the herpes virus (Allahverdiyev et. al 2004).  One precaution the article gives is using anything over a concentration of 100 micrograms per milliliter.  If the concentration is higher than this threshold there could be potential toxic side effects.  This being said, any lemon balm oil or supplement that you buy in the store should be safe for use, but I would suggest checking the dosage on the product just to be sure. As you can probably imagine, go organic whenever possible. While it is beneficial to discuss how this herb can potentially prevent outbreaks, help heal current outbreaks, and hinder the replication of the virus, we will also discuss some creative uses for the herb.  This herb can be used in many applications and it is my intent that each and every one of you will learn how it can benefit you, no matter what your unique situation with herpes is.

Different uses for lemon balm:

If you would like to grow the herb and use it in its most natural form, there are several ways to accomplish this.  The first, and likely most common, is to make lemon balm tea.  All you need to do is to place some herbs in hot boiling water for a few minutes (tea bag is optional), add some honey (raw is best), sip and relax. This tea also pairs well with black or mint tea. You can drink this hot or you can add ice to drink iced tea. This herb touts its ability to relax you and when you’ve sipped to your hearts content, re use the tea bag to sooth any sores by placing the bag directly on them.  If you do not want to grow the herb yourself, lemon balm tea is readily available for purchase.

Another creative and relaxing remedy is to take a lemon balm bath.  If you have the lemon balm plant you can use the leaves  in the bath by making a lemon balm leaf-filled bag and hanging it under the running water as you fill the bath.  This remedy will create a relaxing and healing environment for your herpes sores to heal. A word of caution though, do not take a bath that is too hot as very hot baths and hot tubs can trigger the herpes virus.

You can even eat fresh lemon balm leaves in a salad or with any other meal you have prepared.  Culinary nerds might want to add mint, anise, fennel or lemon verbena to mix with the lemon balm. Eating the leaves allows you to proactively begin to approach herpes treatment with more of a preventative approach.  Having lemon balm as a part of your regular diet could help to decrease the likelihood of having another outbreak.

Lemon balm salve or ointment is also available over the counter.  The salve can be applied directly to an outbreak site to help sooth and heal any bothersome sores.  This is a great option for those of us who might not have the time to get super creative with the herb.

You can also buy a lemon balm (or Melissa) supplement at your vitamin store to get the herb into your daily intake.  This is a great alternative to eating the leaves with your food, and will also act as a herpes treatment for outbreak prevention.

Lemon balm/Melissa essential oils are also available. You can use the oil in the area that you usually experience outbreaks to potentially prevent them.  You can also use the oil for its relaxing and calming properties in times of stress to help control your immune system’s response to hectic times.

These are just some of the many creative uses I have found while researching the lemon balm herb and its effect on the herpes virus.  I for one am planning to experiment with each of them to find which remedy works best for my mind and body.  I hope you all do the same, and successfully find a healing outlet in the herb!

Allahverdiyev, A., Duran, N., Ozguven, M., & Koltas, S. 2004. “Antiviral activity of the volatile oils of Melissa officinalis L. against Herpes simplex virus type-2.” Phytomedicine 11(7):657-661.


About Stephanie

Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie.  I was diagnosed with HSV-2 in April of 2014 when I was 22 years old. Right now, almost three years later, I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Purdue University. I recently completed my MA in sociology at the University of Northern Colorado where I explored the role of stigma in the process of disclosing a genital herpes diagnosis.  With that said, if anyone is interested in reading what I discovered in my project, I am happy to share that with you! I plan to continue advocating for our community, as well as studying the social factors that influence sexual health in order to understand how we can create a world that is easier for people diagnosed with STIs.  I really enjoy writing for the Pink Tent community and am excited to be able to share some of my experiences and thoughts about living with genital herpes with you all.

Herpes Simplex 2 vs. Herpes Simplex 1

The Difference Between Herpes Simplex 2 & Herpes Simplex 1

Have you ever wondered what the real difference is between herpes simplex 2  (HSV-2) and herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1)?

I have spent the past four years as the educational coordinator for the Colorado H Club answering questions like this every day. Genetically speaking, the two viruses are about 85% the same and the symptoms they produce are exactly the same too. The main herpes symptoms are blisters, itching, pain, tingling, redness, fever, and numbness, but 85% of people who have the virus don’t even know it! There are other symptoms associated with the virus, but none of them cause any other diseases or illnesses. This is one of the reasons many doctors don’t deem it necessary to include herpes as part of a standard STD panel.

Herpes Simplex 1 and Herpes Simplex 2 are the two types of herpes simplex viruses. Some of the other members of this virus family, Herpes Viridae, cause Mono, Shingles, Chicken pox, Roseola and a few others.

Did you know that HSV-1 is the virus that causes cold sores? Yes. That’s right! Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. Unfortunately, Herpes Simplex 2 has received the most amount of stigma over the years because it is the number one cause of genital herpes. 

Let’s look at some of the main differences between the two viruses:      

Genetics: 85% the same      
Herpes Viridae Family: Both Herpes Simplex Viruses      
Environment: HSV-1 prefers the environment of the oral/facial area of the body, HSV-2 prefers the genital area      
Cold Sores: HSV-1 is the strain of the virus that causes cold sores      
Frequency of Outbreak– HSV-1 outbreaks genitally tend to be less frequent      
Intensity: HSV-1 outbreaks genitally tend to be more mild      
Transmission: HSV-1 can be found genitally and orally, but HSV-2 is not found orally (only 1% incidence rate)
Triggers: both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are triggered by the same things i.e.. heat, UV, friction… Let us know if you found this information helpful.

If you have more questions about how to live and date with herpes and how to discover love again, check out our in-depth resources here. www.PinkTent.com    

You Probably Have Herpes and Don’t Know It


You Probably Have Herpes and Don’t Know It

I came across a great article today written by Vox magazine entitled: Bad news: you probably have herpes and don’t know it.  It is so refreshing to see that there are other people out there trying to educate the public about herpes. Did you know that at least 85% of the population that has genital herpes and doesn’t even know it? This is the same virus that causes chicken pox, cold sores and shingles.  I had a friend of mine ask me, “then, how do we know that they have herpes.” What a great question!

In 2006, the largest study ever on genital herpes was conducted on a cross section of the American population.  The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey asked people who thought that they did not have herpes to participate in the study. Each participant was then tested for herpes using type specific blood tests for HSV-2. When the tests were then analyzed, it was determined that 85% of those participants did in fact test positive for herpes. Then, the group that tested positive for HSV-2 (genital herpes) were then educated on the signs and symptoms of herpes. It was then determined that 70% of those tested were then able to positively identify previous signs and symptoms of herpes.

I have quoted this study time and again in my outreach to educate the public about the high prevalence of genital herpes. Genital herpes is the most common STI and yet no one is comfortable talking about it because of its stigma. This is just one of the many enlightening statistics that reveals the truth about herpes. I also think it is important to reveal that women are 3-4x more likely to contract herpes and at least 1 in 4 women have it. It is our time as women to stand in our power and reveal to the public the reality of this condition.

Remember how people used to openly make fun of HIV and those who suffered from it? Rarely do you hear comedians making such rude comments regarding HIV and AIDs. It is time that those with herpes take a stand and educate the public about this mostly benign infection that does not lead to any other diseases. Wake up America! The next time you poke fun of someone with herpes or make a herpes joke, know that there is a very good chance that you are making fun of your best friend or loved one that just hasn’t had the courage to disclose their status to you.

Want to get educated, empowered and inspired? Check out my Amazon bestseller Live, Love and Thrive with Herpes: A Holistic Guide For Women.  

Single With Herpes: A Mom’s Perspective

Single With Herpes: I’m 29 nearly 30 years old and a single mum of a 9 year old. I’m not sure how I’ve contracted herpes. I’ve been in a relationship for nearly 2 years with the same person. We had unprotected sex 2 or 3 times in 18 months. I had a 3 month relationship previously where it was unprotected, he’d had a vasectomy and had told me he was “clean.” I trusted my ex believing he didn’t have an std as I did with my current boyfriend. I’d been tested for STD’s several times and had never tested positive for anything. I barely knew anything about herpes until I was diagnosed about 4 months ago.I already suffered with depression, body dysmorphia disorder and social anxiety and finding out I have herpes has made me feel worse. Initially I felt shocked and undesirable. I still feel undesirable. I’m also struggling not to blame my boy friend but I think that’s due to us already having issues as he’s never let me know where he lives.I’ve had prodome symptoms since being diagnosed and probably 4 mild outbreaks. I think stress is partly triggering the outbreaks.As I already feel ugly and struggle with agoraphobia, the diagnosis has been very difficult for me because I don’t have friends. I’m an orphan and I’m not very close to my 2 siblings.I feel quite depressed. I’m not sure what I’d tell someone whose recently been diagnosed. Maybe some understanding. It’s hard to offer advice when you’re not coping yourself.

Is Herpes Destroying Your Happiness?

pie chartAfter we put our baby down for bed last night, my husband and I decided to watch the documentary, 
Happy, which had just arrived from Netflix. I must say, that after watching it I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude and love in my life.

Was I happy in life? Absolutely!

While I have always been a happy woman, there have been many times in my life where happiness was difficult to access. My diagnosis of herpes was certainly one of those times. What struck me most about this film was that the research indicated that only 10% of our happiness is related to our circumstances. This was absolutely shocking!  After many years of research, it was discovered that 50% of happiness is genetic, 10% is Circumstantial (income, social status, where you live, age, life experiences) and 40% is due to Intentional Activity (what we choose to do with our lives).

There was a woman who was interviewed, who had survived a horrendous accident where she was run over by a truck. The once pageant queen mother survived, but at the cost of a very disfigured face. The trauma of the event brought back repressed memories of the sexual abuse she had endured as a child. While this women contemplated ending her life at that time, she was able to overcome her challenges and become an amazingly happy woman. She now says that she lives with more joy and gratitude than ever before.

So, when you are down and out over herpes and its implications, know that you have the option to overcome this challenge and become a happier, healthier and more vibrant person than you were before. You can choose to embrace relationships with a greater level of intimacy and connection than ever before. Do not allow herpes to destroy your happiness and remember, your circumstances only amount to 10% of your access to happiness. You have the courage and capacity to live and love again. Take hold of the other 40% factor that determines happiness….Intentional Activity. Research has shown that exercise, spending time with friends and giving back to society are things you do have control over and they are directly related to happiness.

If you want to reclaim your happiness, choose self love, friendship, and gratitude. You can be happy again!

Live. Love. Thrive.

Dr. Kelly

PS. You can check out the full feature length documentary of Happy here


Want more happiness? Get coached with Dr Kelly!

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The Start Of Pink Tent- Social Media Strategies For The H Audience

The Start Of Pink Tent- Social Media Strategies For The H Audience

Guest Post by Eric Elkins

I’m pretty selective about clients my agency takes on. Not only do I want to work with organizations or products or services my team believes in, but I also know that social media strategies aren’t always the best approach, and I won’t take on a project where our expertise isn’t actually going to be helpful. I also consider the subject matter and target audiences before making a decision about working with a new client. So when I received a call about meeting with someone who was taking on herpes awareness, I had to give the matter some serious thought.

Driving to Boulder for a lunch meeting at the home of Dr. Kelly Schuh and her husband Richard (whom I knew from my startup days in Boulder), I couldn’t shake a subtle twinge of discomfort. The H word is a toughie — my friends who’ve been diagnosed with it tend to feel shame and a sense of alienation. There’s no cure, it can go undiagnosed or symptom-free, and the fear surrounding its contagious nature can go far beyond rational thought. Of course, just about anything involving genitals, pain, and sex is going to make people squirmy. But I’d read about Dr. Kelly’s background on her website, and I was taken by her open and honest language. There was something fearless in the way she embraced her story , and shared it with the world.

kelly_nepalWhen she was in her early 20s and hiking through Nepal, Kelly was diagnosed with herpes, and the news fundamentally changed her life. As a young woman far from home, she was devastated. Finding out you have herpes from a doctor in an office in your hometown would be bad enough, but imagine being 7,500 miles away from everyone and everything you knew. After returning home, she started to research herpes, only to find her fears exacerbated by the misinformation and lack of consistent, helpful content available. Would any man ever love her, now that she had herpes? Would she be able to have a healthy child someday? Was her life ruined? Nobody had definitive answers for her. But awareness about the lack of resources for women like her only gave Dr. Kelly strength. And in the years since, she not only has run a successful chiropractic and natural health practice, but she fell in love with my old pal Richard, and gave birth to a gorgeous and healthy baby girl.

50 Martin, KellyIn the last few years, Kelly and Richard have been working to fulfill her dream of creating an online community — a Pink Tent — for women with herpes; a place where women can connect, get support, and learn how to manage the disease naturally. She wants to help women with herpes learn to “live, love, and thrive.” So when I sat down with Dr. Kelly and Richard to learn more about her Pink Tent project that day, I sublimated my disquiet by asking a lot of questions — about their plans, their target audiences, their needs and goals — all the stuff that I ask every potential client before putting together a proposal. And though they were wonderfully honest and passionate about the important work they were doing, I couldn’t help wondering how we could create a plan that would resonate for women, with and without herpes, and the men who love them.

The question for me was, how can we promote the women’s health aspect of what Dr. Kelly was building, without diluting the more difficult and world-changing subject of living with herpes? Because herpes is an important global issue. Genital herpes affects at least one in four women, yet 80 percent of people who have it don’t know it. It’s not even part of a standard STD test. The more I thought about it, though, and the more time my team and I spent with Dr. Kelly, the more I believed that we needed to take on this project and help her find and inspire her community.

It hasn’t been an easy road — between researching the subject matter, trying to identify online communities, and reaching out to people to discuss a disease that many are embarrassed to talk about, getting traction has been challenging. How do you mobilize a target audience that doesn’t want to be identified? But the more we learned and were challenged, the more resolved we became to bring Pink Tent to fruition. Because the need for a safe, informative refuge for women with herpes and the people who love them became ever more evident as we worked on it.

And that’s why I wrote this piece— to inform you about a Boulder resident who is doing important work in women’s health, and to ask for your help. The first part of the Pink Tent project is Dr. Kelly’s book, “Live, Love and Thrive with Herpes; A Holistic Guide for Women,” which is written and ready for publication. Once the book is produced, work will begin on the community platform at PinkTent.com. But none of that can happen without some assistance. So we’re all helping to build donations toward that end via Dr. Kelly’s IndieGoGo campaign (http://indiegogo.com/pinktent), which is now in its last two weeks of fundraising.

Full disclosure — what, if anything, my company gets paid for our work on the project is based on the funds raised. I fully believe in the importance of what Dr. Kelly is building, but it’s probably important to know that we get paid based on how much money comes in from the IndieGoGo campaign. It’s a risk I was willing to take, and we’ll keep working with Pink Tent whether or not we hit Dr. Kelly’s ambitious goal. But that’s not the point.

The point is this — if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with herpes, becoming part of Dr. Kelly’s community will be a true gift to you and to others. Whether you donate to the campaign and get a copy of her book as a thank you, or add your story to her website, or just like her Facebook page , you will learn something valuable while contributing to a larger cause. You’ll help Dr. Kelly “shine a bright light on herpes, sparking conversation and eradicating the stigma of one of the most universal infections.” Not a bad thing, right?

Eric Elkins

Wide Focus

What Is Holistic Medicine?

What Is Holistic Medicine?

holistic-medicineEast Meets West

Western medicine = Modern medicine

Eastern medicine = Traditional, Holistic and Alternative medicine Eastern medicine is rooted in a holistic, or whole body approach.

The physical, emotional and spiritual states of an individual are all equally important in evaluating, managing and treating an individual.  Imagine a hologram, where every individual part represents the whole. It is impossible to break down a hologram into individual parts. Let’s say you have a hologram of an apple. If you cut the apple hologram in half, you are not left with two halves; you are left with two whole apples. You can demolish a hologram, but even a minute piece of the original will still reflect the whole!

Holistic medicine and its premises are no different than a hologram. You can’t heal a person by just examining and treating just one part of their body, because everything is interconnected. For example, you might be able to “fix” a person’s heart by treating a blockage with surgery. This is more of a Western approach, which focuses only on the physical symptom at hand, the blockage. This modern approach to medicine views the body as individual parts which need to be fixed. The weakness in this approach is that unless the underlying cause is addressed, the symptom will arise again in a similar or different form.

In Eastern medicine, health comes from an returning the body to its natural state of balance. “Fixing” a problem entails a deep investigation of the environment that lead to the imbalance or physical symptom and then going deeper to where the root of the problem lies. What are the person’s daily habits? How do their other organs function? Do they eat well? Are they stressed at work? Do they exercise? What are their families’ health backgrounds? What is going on in their personal lives? These are just a handful of the many questions that need to be answered in order to understand the emotional, spiritual and physical ailments of an individual person.
In Western medicine, doctors deal with individual problems. As a result, a person might have a half a dozen doctors who each specialize in one specific thing, making it incredibly hard to locate the source of a disease and find a lasting solution. It’s as if our “parts” don’t communicate to one another and each section is quarantined. In the eyes of many Western doctors, the sum of our parts equals the whole, rather than the whole expressing itself in each of the parts. I personally believe there is value in both types of medicine, but that we need more influence of the Eastern philosophies in our healing practices. This is why I choose to deal with health issues naturally first, and why I do not utilize or encourage Western medical treatment for herpes.
book_LiveLove300For more information on how to deal with herpes naturally and help to heal your whole self, purchase my Amazon Best Seller, “Live, Love and Thrive with Herpes“!

What Is Herpes?

What Is Herpes?

Many people have been diagnosed with herpes, and yet they do not know what herpes actually is- so let’s define it

herpesHerpes is a virus that has been around for 140 million years, infecting humans and animals alike.  Over twenty-five centuries ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, coined the term herpes from the Greek “to creep”. Aptly named, herpes has the ability to creep along any nerve and infect skin cells at more distant sites. Herpes is so common globally that it has the second largest incidence rate worldwide, trailing only behind the common cold.  Chances are you have been exposed to the herpes virus at some point in your lifetime.

When I was a child, parents would throw chickenpox parties so that all of the children would become infected. The idea was that it was better for the body to build up immunity and “learn” about the virus so that the chances of developing a reoccurrence from the painful condition of shingles later in life was not as high. Can you imagine if we could get over the stigma of HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) and have a neutral, educated perspective on it? Now, don’t imply from this that I would encourage sexual parties to spread the love, but seriously, it does show how ostracized our viewpoints are of one strain of the herpes virus and not the other.

HSV is as common as the chickenpox strain and yet people associate herpes with being dirty or promiscuous. Why is it that most people don’t think twice about a cold sore, but would feel embarrassed about a genital outbreak, when in fact, it is the same type of virus. Cold sores are so prevalent in our culture and their location during cold and flu season make them challenging to hide. I am certain that you know of family and friends who are prone to these outbreaks and yet, you would never associate anything negative about their character for being a carrier of the virus. A genital sore; however, is hidden and found in an area that for most is very private and secretive.

As a culture, we have not been raised to talk about our sexual health, nor have we been encouraged to embrace our sexuality. Add an infection to our privates and we become extremely uncomfortable, shameful and embarrassed. This is why, I believe, that although a herpes infection can be detected in the blood of the whole body, our culture views the location of the outbreak differently. If a person has a genital outbreak, then their sexual practices are often wrongly, and presumptuously judged. This is something that most people are not comfortable talking about.

My opinion was reinforced by an experience I had, while I was interviewed on the morning show, Connections, on KGNU radio 88.5 FM (1390 AM) on the topic of Women and Herpes. The interviewer was shocked when she found out that chickenpox and Mononucleosis (the kissing disease) were both part of the herpes family. I could see the fear in her eyes when she asked me if by having either chickenpox or mononucleosis, did it mean she had HSV I or 2. I was happy to share with her that one did not preclude the other, but I do think that it drove the herpes conversation a little closer to home.

[1] Shingles is a member of the herpes family, also known as Herpes Zoster.

Herpes Support Group

Looking For A Herpes Support Group?

If you are in the Denver Metro area, this could be a great resource for you.


I am thrilled to announce that I am now serving on the Colorado H Friends board. This is a non profit that supports people with herpes in the Denver metro area. If you live in Colorado and would like a resource for meeting great people and getting some of your questions answered in person, check out www.coloradohfriends.com.

I joined this organization a couple of years ago and have met some amazing people. They have social events, educational evenings and a monthly meet and greet at a restaurant in Denver. This organization is very careful in keeping your herpes status private. In fact, herpes is not even talked about or mentioned in public settings.

Just this last Christmas, I went to their private holiday party and discovered that two women had come to the party and did not even know what the H in the “Colorado H” group stood for. They had met some wonderful people at a public event and thought that the group was so much fun, they wanted to come to the holiday party. I had a good belly laugh with them once they realized what the H stood for. What a great testament to the group’s commitment to people’s privacy!

If you don’t live in Colorado, I still encourage you to seek out a support group in your area. What you will be sure to find is a group of dynamic, normal everyday people. Herpes does not target any socioeconomic or religious sector. People with herpes are everyday people like you and me. The sooner you realize that, the better you will be and the faster you will heal emotionally. You are not alone and a support group is a great place to turn to. This Spring, we will be launching our own support group for women with herpes at www.PinkTent.com. This will support women with herpes all around the world.  Stay tuned!