Originally Posted by jaynecobb
Forum noob here, but question about how big a deal herpes really is.
Happily married for 9 years, poly for 6. No symptoms, but wifey and I just got tested for HSV1 & 2. Results should be in in a few days.
Hypothetically, if she has either and I have none, is it crazy unreasonable for me to be hesitant about having sex with the wife ever again? God, just typing that sounds horrible. I'm just thinking if I say "Sure, I know we're going to be together forever, so voluntarily contracting herpes is worth it because I love you," and then 5 years down the road something happens and we get divorced am I going to really regret choosing to do that for her?
From the info I can gather, upwards of 60% of people already have it, and then a good portion of those people don't actually experience symptoms. I think it's really the social stigma that gets me about herpes.
Would love some thoughts from those more experienced and wiser than I. Preferably from both parties: those who have it and those who don't. Thanks!
I have no experience with it outside of a work-related level. First, it is possible to maintain a healthy relationship and sex life with a person who has HSV I or II.
By all means, it is very normal to feel that way. Naturally, you should have questions. If she does have I or II, precautions should be taken, but the quality of your intimate life and enjoyment should not be reduced. I strongly suggest that you go with her to talk to her gynaecologist or primary healthcare physician to come up with a plan to reduce your risk. You can also talk to your physician and invite her to come along. Those plans sometimes include limiting sexual contact during outbreaks, using condoms, the use of medicines to reduce the number of outbreaks, antiviral gels/ointments, and things of that nature. Every couple has to come up with a plan that works the best for them. Even if both parties are infected, it is still not advised to have unprotected sex because in rare cases, re-inoculation has occurred.
With HSV 2, the best things you could possibly do are protect yourself is with barrier methods (e.g. condoms, dental dams, etc.). Please know that even with these things, the risk is not at 0%. If there are abrasions or any breaks in the skin that occur during intercourse or whenever, that is another opening for the virus. If there are any sores in or around the affected area(s), that might leave you exposed. The abrasions from intercourse occur due to lack of lubrication. Super important: Even when there is no visible outbreak, it can still be transmitted. It is transmitted by touch as well.
I would strongly advise against exposing yourself to it intentionally. Do all that you can to protect yourself. Things still happen, and the only thing that guarantees an exceedingly low risk is abstinence. I know marriage is supposed to be forever, but you have to be mindful of your health and well-being. No two people handle the virus the same, so no two treatments work the same either. HSV I and II can be managed but never cured. If your wife loves you, she will understand and be proactive in helping to reduce your exposure. Also, she needs to forewarn any future partners. I know it is not the easiest conversation, but with something like this, it is a conversation that must be had.
The best thing you both can do is ask your/her doctor questions, consider the percentage of risk, etc. Naturally, the stigma is going to be much higher because some people just do not know. Wield knowledge, weed out stigmas. Just know that you can maintain a satisfied life even if she does have it, and it does not necessarily mean you will get it. Do what makes you the most comfortable, and please provide emotional support to your wife.