I get tested fairly regularly, plan to get tested asap and have never had herpes. Could I have been harboring this before our relationship and now get sores for the first time? Could they have infected me without having visible sores of their own?
I want to talk about this with my partner but I need some facts first.
That’s a lot of questions, but I’ll do my best to address them for you.
Before we get into it, just remember that without seeing a clinician about the sores that you have now, we don’t know what it is. Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could cause similar sores. It’s great to hear that you’ve been tested before, and you plan to get tested soon. It’s best if you can do it while the sores are still there.
About the assumption that you may have contracted an STI from your new partner, it is a possibility, but due to many factors it’s often hard to pin-point the origin.
Many people live with STIs without knowing they have one. Herpes can live in the body for a long time unrecognized –for months or years– and can move easily with skin to skin contact even when no sores are present. So it’s very difficult to know how long you’ve had the virus and how you may have contracted it.
You are right, a great place to start is getting tested, getting some facts and then having a conversation with your partner(s). When you get tested, bring your questions with you. Testing clinicians can be a great source of knowledge and they may also have tips about the types of conversations to have with your partner. There are other posts about herpes on Sex Friendly Manitoba that you might find useful. The New Zealand Herpes Foundation has a helpful section on herpes and relationships.
Once you know your STI status, you can start a constructive dialogue. Think about what’s important to you, pick a time that works for this conversation and share a little of what you know. Try to be casual and direct, and let them know that sexual health and STI testing is important for you. This can be difficult at first, but if the pay off is avoiding STIs and increasing intimacy, it’s probably worth it. They may also be trying to figure out how to bring it up with you, and could be relieved that you start the conversation.
I hope that helps, good luck.