I Was Ashamed of My Herpes Until I Found Out How to Treat It

Lee, a 32-year-old writer in Brooklyn, has had genital herpes for five years

"I had never had any problems down there before."
I know exactly where I got herpes. I slept with this really cute guy from out of state with whom I thought I was building a relationship. I caught herpes from him when I was visiting him. We only slept together twice.

Less than a week later, I had my first outbreak. Initially I didn't know what it was. I couldn't really see it; I just felt it. When I took a mirror to it, it looked like an ingrown hair gone awry. It was a painful blister. I went to see a doctor and the doc said, "I have to take samples first, but I think it's herpes." I didn't even know what herpes was. I'd never had any problems down there before.

I'm pretty sure he knew he had it
I felt ashamed, dirty, all those things. God, I had to get an STD that doesn't go away. It's a stigma that gets attached to you and it's rough. I couldn't stop beating myself up for being so careless. The guy didn't have symptoms—but I wouldn't have even known what to look for.

I remember wavering on whether I believed he didn't know he had it. I can't imagine someone being so thoughtless or heartless to subject me to this, knowing that he had it. But I'm pretty sure he knew. He seemed way too calm when I asked him.

123 Next
As told to: Louise Sloan
Last Updated: May 03, 2008

Stay fit, feel younger, and get special offers and insider health news—from beauty to breast cancer—just for women.

More Ways to Connect with Health