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!
Many people have been diagnosed with herpes, and yet they do not know what herpes actually is- so let’s define it
Herpes 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.
 Shingles is a member of the herpes family, also known as Herpes Zoster.
Statistically speaking, one in four people (a very conservative number) has herpes. That means then that for every four Americans you know, at least one of them has herpes. Are you ready to look at reality for what it is? Let’s create some compassion for those who have herpes and are suffering in silence. And for those of you who think you are so “pure”, if you get cold sores, you have herpes!
If not, and you still don’t think you have herpes, only a blood test can determine that. If you are assuming that herpes is included in a standard STD test, think again. You have to specifically ask for this test. Statistics have also shown that up to 90% of people who thought they did not have herpes actually tested positive.
Creative Loafing published a great article on “Getting Real About Herpes”- check it out here and share with friends and family!
Hope, Healing & Happiness is Possible.
Get Empowered. Get the Facts. Enter your email address to download Dr. Kelly's FREE Fact Sheet now!