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what's the real story with Asymptomatic Shedding?

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Old 06-03-2004, 03:48 AM   #1
marco pirone
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 7
marco pirone HB User
what's the real story with Asymptomatic Shedding?

Hello everyone. I've had H for 10 years now and my outbreaks have almost disappeared. I only get the prodrome symptoms once or twice a year and Valtrex has been great at stopping the outbreaks before they happen. I don't take it suppressively because of some hair loss I noticed years ago when I did take it suppressively for 5 months. anyway, I have a couple of questions because the issue of Asymptomatic Shedding has created a problem in my current (and kinda new) relationship.

1. does the number of Asymptomatic Shedding days decrease over time? (like the number and severity of outbreaks decreases)

2. do herbal supplements (lysine, garlic, etc..) decrease the number of shedding days as Valtrex and Acyclovir do?

3. is there anything a person can do to detect if they are shedding asymptomatically?

thanks a lot for any response.

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Old 06-03-2004, 05:02 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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lbp35 HB User
Re: what's the real story with Asymptomatic Shedding?


I don't have all the answers for you as I don't have herpes but my husband does. He has had it for over 40 years(since college). Back then it was all new and pretty scarey! Anyway because we are trying to have a baby, he has been taking valtrex as supressive therapy to cut back on risk of transmission to me, but as far as because of outs breaks, he rarely ever gets them. When I talked to someone at the Herpes hotline a while back, she said he probably is not shedding at all or very, very little. She also said the shedding is the worst the first year you have the virus. So if your not having out breaks, you probably are not shedding the virus very much at all. We have not been using condoms, but we try to be careful especially because of me trying to get pregnant. He takes the valtrex and with a few ideas from backpacker (like washing right after sex) we have been okay. But then again like a said it is very rare anymore for him to get an outbreak. Hope this helps! Good luck.

I also wanted to note, the lady from the herpes hotline said MOST people do not get herpes from shedding but from someone who is having an outbreak but the outbreak is so minor that the person does not know that they are having an outbreak. That makes more sense to me than a person getting herpes from someone without symptoms, don't you think?

Last edited by lbp35; 06-03-2004 at 05:08 AM.

Old 06-03-2004, 06:50 AM   #3
marco pirone
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 7
marco pirone HB User
Re: what's the real story with Asymptomatic Shedding?

thanks for sharing your story. I called the hotline a few years ago and they told me the same thing - almost always in the first year and to not really worry about it. it was good enough for me and my girlfriend at the time, but my recent girl is more worried because she just read some study (sponsored by Valtrex, I think) that says most people get it from asymptomatic shedding and that it happens something like 5% of days - and that we should use condoms and, of course, Valtrex suppressively.

none of my girlfriends has ever gotten it from me - that we know of, and I'm pretty well tuned into my body and what's going on, but I'm still curious about the specifics of asymptomatic shedding. the stuff on the web is simplistic - "you can give the virus to someone else even when you don't have symptoms" - which isn't very helpful.

thanks again. anyone else have any thoughts?

Old 06-03-2004, 08:47 AM   #4
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backpacker HB Userbackpacker HB User
Re: what's the real story with Asymptomatic Shedding?

I think lbp makes a lot of sense, and her ideas fit in with my experience better than your web info. I've had it for at least 14 years, got it from my ex, who has had it much longer. He is not very much in tune with his body, so it's not surprising that he didn't notice symptoms when he gave it to me. I remember several times we had sex and then the next day he had an ob. I also had a hard time my first couple of years predicting ob's. After a few years, I realized what those leg aches were, and that I usually felt tired the day or two before an ob. Since then, I have been tricked a few times when I had very very mild ob's. Now I have a whole list of minor symptoms that I look for.

My point is (as I've said before) that "asymptomatic" is subjective, not objective observable scientific fact. I had symptoms before my early ob's, but may have thought I didn't. When companies give statistics on "asymptomatic shedding," they are trying to prove something to their advantage, and the statistics are based on polls and questionnaires, not on some intricate scientific study. After all, they tell us that cultures cannot be accurate without a sore present--so how is asymptomatic shedding detected?

Anyway, your girlfriend's fears need to be addressed. It's obviously more difficult for a woman to wash than a man, but some logical precaution's I'd take now if I didn't have it and my partner did are: Don't go overboard and have very vigorous sex that will tear membranes. Have her use extra lubrication like KY Silky. Have her wash externally with soap (I use Neutrogena cleansing bar--less drying than soap) and water for at least 20 seconds. Also have her douche, but not with a commercial douche. Warm (not hot!) salt water (Only about 1/4 t salt to 1 cup water) is great. Maybe she would like to add some herbs that are antiviral. Of course, the greatest advantage and protection is that you know your own body and don't ignore your symptoms, however slight--even mere fatigue. And that you can admit that you shouldn't have sex, even when you want to have it! Sometimes that's the hardest thing for me.

Of course, she wants to feel that you care more about her feelings and about protecting her than about having sex. If your relationship is new, she may have trouble trusting you to that extent; maybe she just needs more time and lots of nonsexual loving.

Have you read the "Happy Couples" thread? If not, do a search for it. It's probably 4 or 5 pages back by now. Luck.

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