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National Cervical Cancer Coalition

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 Post subject: dealing with doctors
PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:34 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:09 am
Posts: 6
While out of town for Christmas, I got what I have since learned was a herpes outbreak (my first). I treated myself for a yeast infection (thought that was what it was), took baths, tried over-the-counter painkillers and finally spent 5 hours in the emergency room. I was told that nothing was wrong, given anti-biotics for a urinary tract infection (which I didn't have - I had mentioned that it was excruciating to pee, so the doctor assumed) and vicodin and sent away.

On January 2 I saw a nurse-practioner at my gynecologist's office. She saw what she said looked like scratches and did a culture test. She also diagnosed and treated a bacterial infection. On January 8, feeling better after the anti-bacterial I'd been given, she called to tell me that I had herpes. We talked for a long time and I called back the next day with more questions.

I decided to take a 10-day course of Valtrex to deal with the outbreak (even though it was mostly over, I just wanted to be sure), but have decided not to begin suppressive therapy at this time.

OK - here's the point. She's great, but when I asked if I had type 1 or 2 she said it didn't matter, the symptoms and treatment were the same. I saw the gynecologist last week to test for everything else and asked that my blood be tested for herpes to see if I have antibodies. I have been in a monagamous relationship for about a year and I believe that he is faithful, but while we wait for the results of his test, I'm curious about my own status.

I know that if I have antibodies then I've probably had this longer than a few weeks. But my doctor wouldn't run the test. He said that it didn't matter. He said to relax, just think of it as a flu in my vagina. That would make me feel better.

I appreciate that the doctors are professional and calm about this, but I feel as though I am being ignored. And now I feel that too much time has gone by while I've been treated like a child (seriously - a flu in my vagina?) and by now I've probably developed antibodies anyway and this is all pointless. So now, if my boyfriend's test is positive then I'll never know if I had it for awhile, or just got it from him.

Is anyone else having trouble with well-meaning doctors trying to protect us from information about our disease? I think my doctor was trying to keep me from fighting with my boyfriend - which I have not done. (BTW - when I was out of town I told him about all the trouble I was having, I told him as soon as I got the diagnosis, we're fine, I'm not blaming, just curious about my body, my health, and my history).

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:32 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:52 pm
Posts: 2
I would suggest seeing a different doctor, unless of course you are really extra comfortable with this one. I tested positive for HSV1 and HSV2 when I has my blood drawn. I don't have any idea how long I've had it and I've learned that it could have been in my system for years and I never knew, since I've never had an outbreak. So, I would recommend either going to a different doctor or telling your doctor to run the blood test you are asking for. It doesn't matter to him, but this is a delicate matter to you and it should be given the attention you need. So if you want the test, by all means...get it. So you know exactly what you have and what you are dealing with. Yes, you have tested positive for HSV, but if it calms you to know which one it is...or both types like me...I would make sure you get the blood test so you can feel informed and more comfortable knowing what's going on with your body.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:18 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 11:47 am
Posts: 5443
Location: PA
I'm sure your doc thinks he's doing the "right" thing by downplaying this all for you and trying to keep it "simple". Unfortunately what some doc's don't realize is that in this day and age - a few hours on the 'net and you know about the same about herpes as they do and you deserve more intelligent answers than you had crotch flu!! It's totally up to you if you want to switch doctor's - finding one you feel comfortable with isn't always easy. If you find that your current doctor is willing to be "taught" then stick with him - otherwise yes indeed you may find yourself looking for a new doc :( He can contact asha for some terrific info as well as gsk will also send him some wonderful info for him and his patient's if he contacts them ( the drug company that makes valtrex and originally patented acyclovir ).

So what to do for now? It sounds like you have been reading the info on asha about herpes which is a terrific place to start!! I also recommend the patient counseling video and the herpes handbook at Both are excellent resources also ( and free ). Type really does matter no matter what any medical professional tries to tell you. Chances are good that if your doctor won't order up a herpes blood test for you that he also isn't aware of the type specific herpes igg blood tests and will just order a non-type specific test that was a waste of time anyways :( If you live in the US you can actually order up the test yourself and pay for it out of pocket. and both offer the herpes select igg for hsv1 and hsv2 ( that's the test you want to order - don't waste your time and money on the igm - it's worthless in adults ). Either place will run you around $100 for the test. You can also look around locally to see if you can get it cheaper at a std clinic or planned parenthood or local health department. Be sure to wait at least 3 months after your last sexual encounter before getting the blood test though. some folks take that long to seroconvert for their infection to be picked up on on the test.

So why does type matter? Well when you have recurrences of either they are treated the exact same. What is different though is hsv1 genitally tends not to reocurr very often. Also hsv1 orally is very prevalant in adults so if your partner already has it orally - they are very, very unlikely to contract your genital infection. Only a small percentage of folks with hsv1 genitally really benefit from daily suppressive therapy since it doesn't shed very often and usually doesn't reoccur very often. Hsv2 genitally however does reoccur more often and also sheds more often. It's more likely to be transmitted to a partner so daily suppressive therapy might be the better choice for the infected partner if both partners aren't infected. So yes knowing your type and your partners type is important.


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