Feature Archive

Dating With Herpes

One woman's story.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

I had barely finished my first semester of college when I found out I had herpes. A high school friend and I wound up taking our friendship a little further, and 20 seconds into the act that would change my life forever, he stopped.

My friend said I was too much like a sister, and he couldn't continue. Then he left. I worried about how that incident would affect our friendship. Little did I know my worries would extend far beyond that concern.

Less than a week later, I found myself in excruciating pain. It hurt to walk, and I couldn't use soap anywhere near my genital area. I knew enough about sexually transmitted diseases to know that I had herpes, but I didn't know exactly what to do.

The Diagnosis

As I sat in the college health center waiting to see a doctor, I watched my very short-lived social life drift by. I was thinking that I'd probably never go on another date, or get a boyfriend for that matter, and I'd certainly never have sex again.

The nurse who examined me revealed that she had herpes and said it was no big deal. She had been free of outbreaks for 12 years, and the same might be the case for me, she said.

Genital herpes is a contagious viral infection that remains permanently in the nerve cells. Many people are unaware they have it, because they don't experience symptoms or because they attribute the symptoms to something else. During an outbreak, blisters or sores appear on or around the genital area. Some people never experience a second outbreak.