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!
My story is a new one. I am a 38 year old who lives and works in a country far away from home …I just found out three days ago. I only got tested because my partner of six months suddenly had an outbreak. I went to my Gyno..he actually REFUSED to test me though I literally begged. I told him what was happening to my partner, he told me I have no signs of the disease..and I should come back if I ever have signs. Can you imagine!!! I am actually worried about my health..even other than the Disease I now have…I am not so trusting anymore…I often just trust doctors blindly.
I went to another clinic, language barrier in tow, and got the tests done. The doctor could hardly explain to me what the results meant. (I saw IgG 99.8+. 2.0….that looked positive to me.) Despite our inability to communicate, I know in my heart that I am positive. Again, this Dr. was telling me I had no problem…”sigh” It is doubly lonely here for me as I am far away from home. I am not fluent in the language either, and the native people have a hard time understanding the concept of confidentiality, even friends..At my workplace this would have been all over the staffroom by day’s end if I told my closest pal. I don’t know if this is something I should, or have to share with my friends, so I won’t. Is that ok?
I don’t want to share it with my family either ..maybe my sisters in time..not right now. My mom worries too much and gets sick.I am at a loss having never experienced an outbreak..do I still take meds even though I don’t even know when I am having an outbreak or when I will be contagious? I am now terrified of spreading it to other parts of my body and other people as I don’t even know when I am shedding. This country is a bit relaxed where STD’s are concerned, I basically have no one to turn to for information After many moons of being single, then finding someone I really love..this happens. I just need the reassurance that everyday for the rest of my life will not be filled with sadness and the sense of loss that I now feel. My partner is so scared he is slowly locking me out of his life…he is a bit of a softy and we are not sure who gave who and it is killing him that it may be him ..(me too) he gets actual OBs so he can’t be stressed…even riding his bike gives him OBs…I think just looking at me stresses him out. I want to talk to him about it..he prefers online friends as he can’t handle the emotion involved in talking to me. (Even before I found out I was positive he didn’t even want to use the camera during SKYPE)I am heartbroken. I have overcome much in my lifetime…I will survive I think…but I need some help. I am gonna be ok..but these first few days are not so nice.. Thank you so much for doing this Dr. You are a brave woman. Thanks. Tryingtobebrave2
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
Think you have herpes? What you MUST ask your doctor
I was trekking in Nepal when I had my first symptoms of a herpes outbreak. I was 23 years old and taking a trip around the world. Little did I know that his trip would change me forever, in ways that I could have never imagined. At first, I thought it was just an irritation from hiking for days on end, but once the burning set in and the little blisters appeared, I knew better. How could this be, I thought? Why me?
I had been intimate with someone just days before and I vaguely remember him having a fever blister from the high altitude sunshine. My mind raced as the burning and itching intensified. I knew I had to get to a doctor as soon as I could, get to some “real” medical treatment in Katmandu.
Long story, cut very, very short…my worst nightmare came true. Within days I was diagnosed with genital herpes from a doctor at a clinic in Katmandu. My diagnosis was based on visual inspection, which, back then, was how it was done. You can read more about my journey in my new book, “Live, Love and Thrive with Herpes: A Holistic Guide for Women.”
Times have changed since the early 90’s and testing for genital herpes is so much more advanced. Now they have blood tests and culture tests which can determine whether or not you have herpes and which strain of the herpes virus you carry (HSV-1 and/or HSV-2). If you are reading this right now and are freaking out that you too might have genital herpes, my first piece of advice for you is to take a deep breath and know that you are not alone! If it is genital herpes, we know that at least 1 in 4 women in the U.S. have genital herpes. That’s 1 in 4! That statistic is higher than the rate of invasive breast cancer, 1 in 8, and no one is talking about this!
Herpes is often referred to as the Great Masquerader because it can look like so many different things. This is difficult for the patient and doctor alike. Genital herpes could be mistaken for a bug bite, allergic reaction, urinary tract infection, yeast infection etc. So, just because you think you might have genital herpes, you may or may not. If you have itching, burning, tingling, painful urination, or fluid filled blisters then I encourage you to go to your doctor or nearest STD clinic to get tested.
The reason you want to do this right away is that once the body starts to heal from an outbreak, the chances of you getting an accurate diagnosis decreases with time. Our immune system is constantly working to kill off any foreign invaders and this includes the herpes virus. So, if you wait to long, the immune system might have already killed off the majority of the herpes virus at the surface of the skin. While the virus might be killed off at the surface of the skin, it remains dormant in the spinal chord, indefinitely.
I know that going to a doctor for something like this might be very embarrassing, but it doesn’t need to be. If you are too embarrassed to go to your primary care doctor, consider going to an STD clinic. These people are truly experts at diagnosing herpes! Here is a bullet list of things you should know and require.
1. The most important thing to do is to go get tested right away. Don’t wait!
2. The doctor or nurse will want to see the affected area and this might include an internal exam (the outbreak might also be on the vaginal walls or on the cervix)
3. Require your doctor to perform a culture ( a culture is when they rub the area with a q -tip like tool and collect a sample). Do NOT rely on visual inspection because it might be incorrect.
4. Request a type specific test of your culture. The reason you want a type specific test is that it will let you know if you have either HSV-1 or HSV-2. This becomes important for compatibility with future partners and possible prognosis.
5. If your test comes back negative, wait at least 2-3 months to get your blood tested. If this is truly your first exposure, then it can take some time for the antibodies to show up in your blood.
If you ARE diagnosed with herpes, the women of Pink Tent are here to support you on our women’s only private forum. We are a group of Women Supporting Women with Herpes. The forum is the perfect place to ask questions, get support and get inspired.
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