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Date of last update: 10/14/2017.

Forum Name: Gynecology

Question: Genital HSV-1 or HSV-2? Symptoms?

 Kate08 - Wed May 06, 2009 8:33 am

I recently went to my gynecologist for my annual check-up and was told I was exhibiting signs of Herpes. My doctor discovered nearly-healed lesions inside my vagina; however, I had only experienced slight itching (if any) within the week prior to my visit. Is this normal to have very little symptoms? Also, I have only been with one partner, who I have been dating for over a year. I have never had any sexual contact with anyone other than him; however, he has not exhibited any signs of herpes before, and acquired his first cold sore (in his mouth) a couple of weeks ago (we did have oral sex). I have always had cold sores, and believe in kissing him, may have passed those on to him, while he, in turn, passed it on to me genitally. However, when I read about the subject, it seems HSV-1 is highly unlikely to be passed to the genitals of someone who already has HSV-1 infections (I've had cold sores of the mouth all my life), as they have built up immunity. I'm terribly confused, and my doctor will be testing cultures to see which HSV it is (though there is a possibility she won't be able to, as the sores were healing over). What is the likelihood it is not HSV-1 and not HSV-2, and how could I get HSV-2 from a partner who has never exhibited any signs of it (he was in a 7 year monogamous relationship before me, though his ex cheated)?

Sorry about the long post.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Thu May 21, 2009 9:57 pm

User avatar Hello,
This is a very confusing infection and it can be difficult to identify the exact type and mode of transmission. For both types 1 and 2, at least two-thirds of infected people have no symptoms (could be this way with your boyfriend), or symptoms that are so mild they don't notice (as might be the case with you if indeed this is what you have). Both types can recur and spread even when no symptoms are present.

How well your immune system functions can affect the way this infection acts. Over time it tends to be less of a problem and recurrences may be quite rare so even an earlier infection could seem to disappear. While the possibility exists, recurrence is very rare when it is not in its preferred site (i.e. HSV-1 as genital infection and HSV-2 as oral infection).

You are correct that once you have HSV-1 orally, you are less apt to get either infection because of immunities your body built up. You may never know exactly how this came about and in many people it is no more of a problem than an occasional cold sore. I wouldn't worry too much about knowing how and why. If you truly have infection there is nothing you can do about it now and if it isn't causing you pain or interfering with your life, why stress about it?

Best wishes.

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