Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Heartbreak of Herpes


I test people all the time for STDs. It is a consequence of living your life.

 Sex is not free

Guys wine and dine women, dress up and behave. Women have all kinds of personal upkeep and go to the doctor. Testing for STDs involves bloodwork and collection of body fluid samples. You get your results and then deal with them.

Telling a patient she has evidence or proof of herpes virus infection is a conversation most docs would  rather not have, therefore they don't test. Blood testing for evidence of a herpes infection is controversial and not part of most physician's routine testing. When you ask for " test me for everything" make sure you know what's included.Ask for what you want to be checked. Don't assume you have had "everything". I check for HIV, Hepatitis A,B,C, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and herpes.

I don't take that approach that it is shameful, I feel it is  proof of your normal adult behavior.

 Herpes virus is a viral infection that is dormant most of the time. True, it is transmitted from intimate contact when it is active, with or without symptoms. Darn it! You can't even tell who gave it to you when, or if your ex brought it home as a present from his wanderings. I actually don't know anyone who hasn't been at risk for STDs, but that just be me. So I don't make it a big deal. Herpes can be managed, like many problems. Medication is available to help reduce the risk of transmission from viral shedding without symptoms, and for treatment during outbreaks.  Safe sex practices also reduce the risk of transmission.

I once counseled a couple where the female partner had a history of herpes and the male partner did not. He always used condoms and was terrified of getting herpes. They were married and now wanted a child. Problem solved. I sent them home with a syringe to do inseminations. The baby came about a year later. Happy Family.

Now, my patient base is mostly older women. Sex doesn't stop just because your periods do. We change partners because all relationships end by either death or dissolution. I counsel women to get their baseline STD testing done,and ask that their partner does the same. Everybody puts their paperwork on the table, and we see who has what. We deal with it. Nobody gets through life without a few dings, so we make accomodations. No big deal. It's a skin problem.

If you have any topics you would like me to address, please send a post!

Until next time,

Ladies Doctor

1 comment:

  1. Just curious what you think is the benefit of testing for Herpes. I have not tested because I am not going to recommend condoms in a monogamous relationship where the patient is not having outbreaks, because the chance of transmission is pretty low. Are your patients generally happy to have the info or worried about the results?