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  • Can one have a first outbreak 7 or more years after exposure?

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    Old 07-28-2004, 01:00 PM   #1
    northernangel's Avatar
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    Can one have a first outbreak 7 or more years after exposure?

    I recently discovered a very small and painful sore (ulcer?) on the inside of my labia close to the vaginal opening and because I've never had anything like it before, I'm very concerned that it might be a herpes lesion.

    I've only had 3 sexual partners in my life (my current husband, a long term relationship, and a very regrettable one night stand) and I'm worried that my past has come back to haunt me.

    I had an STD workup done several months after the one night stand (7 years ago now) and everything came back negative. I have no idea if my doctor checked for herpes at the time as there was no reason to suspect it. I know he did a vaginal swab and some blood tests, but I don't believe that you can swab for herpes if no sores are present (am I correct about this?) and I have no idea if they even had accurate blood tests for herpes that far back. Does anyone know how long they've been available?

    Is it even possible to have an outbreak for the first time many years after being with my first two sexual partners? I've been under a tremendous amount of stress over the past year and I'm wondering if it somehow reactivated a virus that's been dormant all these years.

    I've told my husband about the sore and he's been very loving and supportive about it. Said that whatever it is, we'll deal with it. Of course, we're both aware that if it *is* herpes, there's a good chance that he may have the virus himself after all these years as I'm on the Pill, so we've never used any sort of protection. We'll be seeing our doctor in two weeks time and hopefully he'll do some blood tests on us to either confirm, or (hopefully!) rule it out.

    By the way, does anyone know if herpes tends to be milder in those who never have an initial outbreak and/or those who remain completely asymptomatic for many years after exposure to the virus?

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    Old 07-28-2004, 03:15 PM   #2
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    Re: Can one have a first outbreak 7 or more years after exposure?

    First it sounds like you and your husband are handling this well as a couple, whcih is great that you can talk about it in a supportive and open way.

    Second, although the sore might be herpes, it might not be, and in that case, all the info below is not useful. But I'm someone who likes to know about everything even if it's just a chance, so I'll type it all it anyhow.

    The tests to diagnose herpes through blood tests including typing (for Type I, usually around the mouth vs, Type II, usually around the genitals) have been around for at least six years which is when I had the tests, beyond that I'm not sure. But from listening to others on this board, herpes is sometimes the forgotten STD when there are no sores present, so they may or may not have tested for it even if it was available. You are correct in that swabs for herpes are only accurate when there is a sore that has not yet broken, the doc breaks the sore open and swabs the contents, and that fluid is what's tested.

    If it is herpes: it may or may not have been the one night stand, as you mentioned, some people have none or very infrequent mild outbreaks that they may not even know they have it. I had it for two years and just thought it was some kind of vaginal irritation or something before i was officially diagnosed. Others on this board have described similar experiences, so even if both you and your husband have it, there is no way to know who gave it to whom.

    Herpes can stay in the body dormant for years without outbreaks, I just got my very first cold sore on my mouth (type 1) even though my blood tested positive for the antibodies six years ago, and I'm sure I had it way before then. The reason i think it popped up was a huge amount of stress and a flagging immune system, so rest and relaxation can be helpful in reducing outbreaks (or exercise if that helps with stress!).

    So hopefully you will get good news in two weeks (neg results), but even if it herpes, it sounds like your body has done a good job of fighting it off so far, and that just paying attention to your stress level might be enough. Good Luck!

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