Years ago, a good friend of mine revealed to me that she was going through a divorce. She was completely heartbroken by the realization that her family was never going to be one unit again, and I was sad for her.
As I helped her pack her belongings for her move out of the home she shared with her soon-to-be ex-husband, I asked her if she was going to start dating again. She gave me this funny look like I asked her if she ate children for dinner or something. I started to feel bad again, as if I had said something wrong.
If I felt sad for her before, what she revealed next made my heart wrench with tears–her cheating husband gave her genital herpes. She thought that her dating life was over, and that no one would ever want to be with her ever again.
This crushed my heart. To this day, I think she's an amazing woman. She's a great cook, she's an African-American woman fluent in Spanish, and is an amazing caregiver–she helped me take excellent care of my son, who was born premature when he came home from the hospital. It burned my biscuits that my friend had committed her life to being a nun in her late 20s, because that is not the life she wanted for herself.
That night, I started scouring message boards looking for a possible solution to her problem. I read stories about couples who gave their partners herpes through oral sex, and partners who unknowingly gave their significant other herpes because it wasn't part of a standard STD test. I even read about one woman who contracted herpes as a teenager from her first lover, because he was too afraid to tell her he had an STD.
Unfortunately, there is nothing I could tell her that would make her feel hopeful about finding love in the future unless she chooses to feel hope.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion around Herpes after it was reported that Usher was being sued for allegedly infecting one of his sex partners with the incurable STD. The fact remains that a lot of people have herpes out in these streets. Scientists at World Health Organization estimate that two-thirds of the world's population has the virus. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports. One in 6 people in the United States, ages 14 to 49, have Genital Herpes, and most individuals infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 have little or no symptoms that go unnoticed, or are mistaken for another skin condition. That's why 87.4% of infected people have no clue that they have genital herpes.
It still doesn't mean that you have to live like a “Purity Pilgrim" if you have it. There are plenty of people who find love, and even have children, after they find out that they have it. You can have genital herpes and a life! So if you have it, please know that it's not the end of the world. Here are some things to remember:
Don't feel guilty or ashamed.
These feelings can lead to secrets, which means that you'd probably be less likely to disclose your status. If you decide to have sex knowing that you have genital herpes, please don't be a d-bag about it. Tell your partner what's up! You don't have to scream it to the Heavens, or tell them loudly in public, but it's best to tell your partner ASAP. #DropThatStatus and quit messing around. Especially if you plan to beat it like a piñata.
By the way, you can beat it like a piñata.
Yes, you can have a healthy sex life if you have herpes. That doesn't mean that you have to be community property and have sex with everyone. It just means that you have to be a little more careful.
If you're going to "hit that," use a latex condom for vaginal sex, anal sex, and when you "rock the mic" (give fellatio). While condoms will not 100 percent prevent one from contracting genital herpes, doctors say that some barrier is better than none at all. So wrap it before you tap it.
You should also use a dental dam when you eat the box or the booty like groceries.
Masturbation is an option.
Sure it's lonely when you choke the monkey by your lonesome. But if you have genital herpes and your partner knows, they can always beat your meat for you. Just make sure you don't have any open sores on your hand, and that you don't touch any lesions because you may not like the outcome. Remember not to exchange bodily fluids, wash your hands before and after you "flick the bean," and you're good to go.
In fact, you can even grab a few toys (make sure you wash them thoroughly with soap and water before and after sex), and have a blast. Sex does not have to be boring or non-existent just because you have herpes. You can have the best night of your life if you use a little imagination, coupled with soap and water.
Keep your body right.
You are less likely to have an outbreak if you keep your body healthy from the inside out. There's a whole list of foods for you to avoid if you have genital herpes, so definitely keep that in mind if you're icing your crotch after an outbreak.
Research shows that a diet high in lysine helps to control outbreaks, and cuts the severity and duration of your outbreak. Apples, mangos, potatoes, and yogurt are foods that are great to consume if you have an outbreak. Just remember that it's always best to consult a physician before you go HAM on a herpes diet plan.
You're not the only person in the world with Herpes.
Herpes has been around since Greeks were having orgies. You won't be the first person, or the last, to have genital herpes, so chill out.
People have gotten herpes through violent sexual assaults, incest, first time sexual encounters, oral sex, and all kinds of other unimaginable situations. Remember that you're not alone, and life happens. Go online, and join a support group like Earth, Wind, and Herpes, MDJunction, or Dating With Herpes. Talk about your feelings with others who have had similar experiences, and you will find that you'll feel a lot better. It's not fair to beat yourself up about something you can't control. Just be honest with yourself, and your partner.
If you have genital herpes and you still feel awful after reading this, try this exercise:
- Find a $20 dollar bill.
- Step on it.
- Crumple it.
- Draw a picture on it.
- Punch it.
- Throw it across the room.
- Sit on it.
- Kick it.
- Pour water on it.
You represent that $20, and that money is still the same amount, no matter how you try to deface it. You've used steps 2 to 9 to make it worthless, and guess what? It's still worth the same amount. Don't let one (or nine) problems make you feel like a $1 dollar bill, when clearly you're worth $20, no matter what you do with it.
Are you picking up what I'm putting down?