Q. I desperately need your help. I was diagnosed with genital herpes three years ago, and this diagnosis has left me full of emotions. I am crying as I write this letter.

For fear of scorn and rejection, I cannot disclose this to anyone. I won’t ask for a prescription because if I got it filled, anyone who works in the store would know, even the kids they hire after school.

Are there any over-the-counter vitamins I can take to help with the discomfort and pain? I feel tremendous pressure to maintain this secret. The only reason I haven’t killed myself is because I have kids. I am afraid I could pass this on to them, so I constantly wash my hands and disinfect the house and car.

A. You are not alone. It is estimated that one in five Americans (45 million) is infected with genital herpes. Counseling can sometimes help overcome the emotional strain of this infection.

There are effective antiviral medications to prevent outbreaks or shorten the duration of an attack (Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, Feb. 2008). Your doctor could prescribe acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) or valacyclovir (Valtrex).

You should not worry about the pharmacy where you purchase the medication. Your privacy is protected. If you prefer, though, you could use an online or mail order pharmacy service. That way you wouldn’t even have to go to a pharmacy.

The virus that causes genital herpes is spread primarily by sexual contact, so you won’t infect your children. Of course, during an outbreak, frequent hand washing is advisable.

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  1. R
    Reply

    25yo Male — I was diagnosed with HSV-2 about nine months ago. It appeared when I was extremely ill, perhaps from the herpes, or perhaps the herpes presented itself as a result of my illness.
    Either way — I had just started dating my girlfriend about a week before the bumps appeared. Luckily we had not had sex because I was too sick to do so. I got tested and it came back positive. I was extremely depressed for a few days. Every person I saw the though crossed my mind ‘Do they have hepres’. I dreamed about herpes and it ruining my life. My girlfriend was so understanding and her first response was: You can take medicine for that right?
    I was put on Valtrex 500mg and had two outbreaks after that, each coming after getting badly sunburned (which can be a trigger). My doctor upped my dosage to 1000mg a day and I haven’t had any sort of outbreak in six months or so.
    I actually almost completely forget that I have it, it is such a non issue. My sex life with my girlfriend is fantastic. She hasn’t contracted it, and odd are she won’t as long as I continue to take Valtrex. I’m just soooo grateful I don’t have a fatal disease. When you stop to think about it, it’s really just an annoyance of getting cold sores around your genitals a few times a year, or perhaps only one or two times a in your life (if you take your meds).
    I’d also like to say to all the young women who have posted on this thread — I total understand how you feel! But, the good news is that there are tons of great guys out there who will release HPV is a skin condition like eczema or a regular cold sore. And there are also some really fantastic guys who probably also have the virus! I wouldn’t be shocked if about half of my friends have it, lol.
    Life is beautiful if you don’t let the bad stuff block your view!

  2. Dee
    Reply

    I just found out I am infected with HSV2 and not taking it very well. I did notice some rash before but thought it wasn’t serious till I decided to get it looked at. It went away and I didn’t give it much thought. I hope I didn’t infect my girlfriend or think I have been fooling around. I did tell her that the doctor thinks it is genital herpes and now I hope she isn’t infected as we have been trying to plan to have children. She was understanding and it was more important to stay in love. She is so amazing but I am concerned for her and our unborn child and the approach to take.

  3. JJC
    Reply

    Dear fellow sufferers!
    Many thanks to all of you for your comforting comments. I have been on a hell of an emotional rollercoaster over the last 20 years of having this disease–feeling like damaged goods, etc., etc. I have been taking meds, natural remedies, etc., etc. My main question remains unanswered: while there is NO outbreak and while not on medication, can genital HSV still be transmitted to a healthy partner? I am planning to get pregnant and will be coming off acyclovir, so I am very worried about my partner contracting it. Being on acyclovir is obviously protecting him, but how likely is is that a person could contract it without an outbreak?
    Is it the same as with people with oral herpes–i.e., it seems only to be transmitted during an outbreak and safe when there is no outbreak?
    I try to tell to myself that if herpes was transmitted even without the outbreak, then everyone would have herpes, not just 1 in 5 people. By the way, does anyone know the statistics in Europe? 1 in 5 I believe is in the USA.
    I thank you all for your time reading my post and for replying to it.

  4. Young One
    Reply

    I know how you feel, my doctor told me I had genital herpes a year ago, I was almost 19. I thought of suicide, the pills, everything basically. I was still in shock, and sometimes the emotional stage comes and goes because its still fresh in my mind. But then I realized that you know no one is perfect, and at least its not fatal, at least I can live, I can dance, sing, move, walk! It’s not the end of the world and I see that. Its actually not even that bad, I barely know I have it sometimes I even forget. And the pills do work, and if the guy/girl loves you they won’t care because herpes isn’t you, it’s just something you have. It’s your past that makes you who you are.
    And who are you? Well your the incredible human being you were before herpes and you are still the incredible human being afterwards. Herpes doesn’t make who you are, it makes you wiser, and smarter, and accept things better. It’s not cancer or death. Its a tiny disease that almost half of this planet has and you are never alone no matter what. It’s the past and sometimes, yeah, you get sad, but don’t let it control your life, just because you decided to have sex with someone. And never regret anything because it makes you everything you are today. And the fact that you have kids, makes you even stronger, that you look at them and see the joy in life and the beauty in love.

  5. JT
    Reply

    I was a 19 year old lad who just started university. I was a virgin at the time and typical thought I found the love of my life. I slept with her and a few weeks down the line I began to get really painful sores. I feel stupid for falling into this trap. The funny thing is I still stayed with her for over two years, I guess I was scared that I would not be able to be in another relationship. in the end we broke because of her constant cheating, lord only knows how many other guys she infected. I found out recently she is now married and due to have her first child. I’m upset as I still cannot get over what she has done to me. I cannot believe people can be so selfish and inconsiderate.

  6. E
    Reply

    Diagnosed a month ago. Like a previous poster, I waited until I was 24 to lose my virginity & got herpes from him. I suspected he was fooling around but was waiting for more concrete evidence to say something about it. It feels like a punishment for having sex at all (was raised religiously), and I was SO cautious. I waited 6 months before having sex with him, and this is what I get for it. I’m scared no one will ever love me, especially because I was never great at getting guys to be attracted to me in the first place.
    I’m in therapy now, and I don’t know that it’s helping. I can’t tell several of my friends as I’m afraid they’ll look at me cast me as a leper, so they have no idea what I’m dealing with. All your stories really help, and now I know I will ensure future guys to get tested; maybe this experience will save me from HIV someday.
    Thank you to those of you who’ve dealt with it for a while. My doctor told me it’s nothing more than a nuisance, and I want so badly for other people to see it that way too. It was tough trying to be loved before and this definitely makes it that much harder.
    Again, thank you so much for your stories and support. I needed this.

  7. CJ
    Reply

    I have had this for 20 years myself and I concur with most of the statements on this post but one thing everyone should remember. We tend to heavily blame the people who gave this to us but please remember someone gave it to them. At some point they to woke one day to find a disturbance down there. They are not evil or bad and promiscuous behaviour has nothing to do with it. As someone who could potentially pass it on, I can tell you that that is my biggest fear. Clearly the emotional problem is much more potent than the physical one.

  8. B
    Reply

    I tested positive for Herpes Type 2 about two years ago and it has taken me about that long to accept the diagnosis. I had always heard of people having Herpes, but I always dismissed them as promiscuous. Full disclosure: I haven’t always been careful to practice safe sex so I do take full responsibility for my actions. The other part of having Herpes is that it doesn’t have to be a problem unless I make it a problem.
    I’ve had to have “the talk” with two men about my situation and I found that very difficult. Fortunately both were very supportive. I refuse to live my life being
    ashamed and I’m not letting it define me. There are MUCH worse things in life than having Herpes. The worst part by far has been the self imposed guilt and shame. Don’t waste your energy on those emotions!

  9. A
    Reply

    Hello. I was just tested yesterday and the impending results look bleak. Same story you have heard a thousand times, cheating ex, painful lesions, etc. I’m hoping, by some miracle, it isn’t herpes, but in my heart, there’s no doubt. I immediately told my fairly new BF, bawling my eyes out the whole time. I’ve been bawling ever since because he has been WONDERFUL about this.
    That said, I can’t deny that I am completely out of my mind with fear, and I’m scared to be alone right now. I’m terrified of what I may do when all is said and done. I started the Valtrex, but if it’s always going to be this painful, I won’t be able to handle it.
    People’s Pharmacy response: Valtrex should get the pain under control quite well, and you will find from reading the other comments that it does get easier to handle.

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