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Hi I'm a 20 year old female. About a month ago I had sex with a guy that I casually had sex with every so often. With my stupidity I never used a condom with him because thats how much I liked him. I went to his house that night and his friend was there. We got drunk and the last thing I remember was allowing his friend to perform oral sex on me while the 3 of us were in his bed. When I woke up the next morning his friend had left and we had unprotected sex. I felt a bit of pain for a few days. This was nothing unusual since the sex was rough. 5 days later I ended up having sex with another guy and we used condoms. About 1-2 days after that I started to feel major pain in my vagina, I felt dizzy and had painful urination. I decided to take a mirror to my vagina. When i opened my labia, on what I believe is the inside skin of the vagina were red lesions and no where else. It looked like the vaginal opening was swollen and some discharge. I went to the walk-in clinic literally right after seeing that. The doctor looked at it and said she thought it was herpes so she took a swab at the lesions. No swabs were taken on or outside of the labia because their weren't any noticeable lesions. I told both partners about it. I took 3 pills a day for 10 days and by the 5th day I could pee again and felt normal. My tests came back not showing anything. 1-2 weeks later the guy I had sex with had broken out in blisters in his pelvic area.. He got them tested at 2 different clinics and both came back as genital herpes HSV 2. He took medication for it but it didnt go away as fast for him as mine did. I'm wondering if I do have genital herpes since it did look like it and my partner ended up getting it. And if I have to tell people I have genital herpes. I have told people about the situation and its confusing. I'm also trying to figure out the who the originator was. The guy who I had last memory of performing oral sex on me and could've had sex with me for all I know or my casual guy friend that a see from time to time. I really don't believe they'd get a blood test done since you have to pay for it. They were "asymptomatic". Please help.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is very common. Most people who have it never get any symptoms and are unaware that they have it. It can still be passed to someone else when the person is not having symptoms as the virus will shed on the skin from time to time.  For example if the person has cold sores it will shed in the mouth area and can be passed with kissing and oral sex. When on the genitals it will shed in the genital area and can be passed when having genital contact.

What you describe sounds like a HSV outbreak but it is difficult to say as your swab test was negative. The old HSV culture tests we used to use a few years ago would sometimes show a negative result when the person had HSV, but the new HSV PCR tests we use today are very sensitive. If someone is having an outbreak and has moist lesion it is very unlikely that the HSV PCR test would show a negative result if it was HSV that was causing the problem.

As HSV is very common it’s possible that your partner already had HSV 2 or had it pass to him from another partner. It’s difficult to know for sure, if people do get a primary outbreak e.g. HSV is passed to them and they develop symptoms straight away. They usually get symptoms in 2-21 days, but many people who have HSV never get symptoms that they notice or get a non-primary outbreak. This is when someone has HSV, did not have any symptoms when it was passed to them but they get there first noticeable outbreak much later.

I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and there is always the possibility that something else was causing your symptoms. I would not say that it is HSV until you have a positive test. As it is common for HSV to reoccur I would recommend getting another HSV swab test done if you ever get symptoms again. If you never get symptoms again you can always chat to the health professional you saw about getting a HSV blood test if you would like to know your status.

We find that the best way to test for HSV is by taking a swab from the sores as this will tell you what type it is and where it is. There is blood tests available to check for HSV but it will not tell you were it is on the body. Many people I see at the clinic think they have been tested for HSV or that if they have no symptoms they don’t have HSV.

As HSV is very common, most people do not get symptoms and it is not a standard test offered when STI testing, it can be really difficult to work out where it came from and how long someone has had it.

Condoms do reduce the chance of HSV passing but since it can pass to areas not covered by the condom, there is still as chance of it passing when condoms are used.

To lower the chances of passing or getting HSV:
• Condoms and dental dams may help to prevent HSV
• You can still be sexual when you have an outbreak, but take care to avoid skin-to-skin contact in the area of the sore (this would mean not having oral sex when you have a sore on the mouth, but genital contact is fine)
•  Consider antiviral medication if you have frequent outbreaks

Please leave a comment to let us know if this answers your question or if you need more information.

Health Nurse

For other readers, please feel free to leave a comment, or let us know if this was helpful.

This answer was posted on January 22, 2016

Community comments

Wtfreshane12 says:

I don't know what's happening down to my... but It's smells fishy, no itchiness, no redness, it's not painful or what just smells fishy. I don't know what to do right now. please help me. I already washed it with Fem wash (Priva) I think there's nothing wrong with my feminine wash because its expensive. Please guys help me what will I do to get rid of this fishy smell. Btw, It's my first time to have this smell. please tell me what to do. thank you. Sorry for my grammar

Health Nurse says:

Hi, thanks for your question. The symptom you describe is commonly caused by BV/bacterial vaginosis - an overgrowth of the bacteria normally found in the vagina. It is not an STI. BV can clear by itself, often after menstruation as the vagina restores its natural balance of being slightly acidic which keeps the growth of this bacteria in check. If the symptom persists, then treatment with antibiotics would be offered. For an assessment, consider visiting an STI clinic near you. Health Nurse

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