It’s a classic story. Girl meets boy. Girl hooks up with boy. Girl thinks she’s dating boy until boy tells girl he wants to stop seeing her because he’s seeing other people, and girl keeps trying to make their relationship official on Facebook. Girl and boy stop talking (sure, she stalks him for a good five-to-nine months on social media, but whatever). Boy hooks up with other girls (those bitches). Girl texts boy one night when she’s drunk a year later. Boy and girl start hooking up again. Girl wakes up one day with a weird bump on one of the openings of her body and instantly thinks:
“Holy fuck. I have herpes.”
This isn’t an extremely specific and accurate example of something that happened to me. No, the herpes scare is just a rite of passage, like skipping the first class of the semester or washing your birth control down with a beer at the bar. For most of us, it’s a false alarm, much like each and every month when we’re *sure* that this time we really are pregnant. We see an ingrown hair. We have razor burn. We just want an excuse to ask the guy we’re seeing whether or not he’s hooking up with that slutty girl, Jessica, who always comments on his pictures.
For most of us, it ends up being nothing, and we go back to being neurotic about something else.
For others, however, it ends up being a little more. Maybe you noticed a couple of weird bumps around your mouth (or more down south). Maybe with these bumps, you experienced a rash on your body or felt like you were coming down with the flu. Maybe after searching for a weird hair that caused the irritation or accepting the fact that you hadn’t shaved in nine days so razor burn was impossible, you realized that something wasn’t quite ideal.
A herpes scare is, well, scary. Thinking you might actually have herpes (or getting the test results back and finding out that you actually DO have it, is even scarier). And while I’m not saying I’ve been there, I am saying that maybe when I was in college, I maybe felt like I had the flu and got a weird, pimple-like spot on my lip and wanted to die. Here’s how to handle it in a better way than I did (I ran to my best friend’s apartment, sobbing over the “fact” that I had herpes, and promptly called my not-quite boyfriend then and there to tell him everything).
Calm TF Down
First of all, how many times have you been pregnant before? None. Hopefully. No judgments, but still. How many times have you *thought* you were pregnant? You would have had your own GD reality show if you really were with child all of the times you thought you were knocked up. There’s a chance, maybe even a decent chance, that this is another irrational scare. You’ll freak out, it’ll be fine, and then you’ll do nothing to protect yourself from falling into this panic attack again.
Suck It Up And Go To The Doctor
Just to be sure, however, you should go to the doctor. Most colleges have absolutely free doctors visits (or a very cheap co-pay). So, suck it up and see your on-campus gyno if you don’t want to go to an adult doctor in the real world. Bonus? They’ve seen and heard literally everything, so someone saying that they think they have herpes is just another Wednesday for them.
Really Suck It Up And Get Tested
After seeing the doctor, one of two things will happen. She’ll tell you you’re being dumb and send you on your way (after a small lecture, but hey, odds are you’ll get a free bag of assorted condoms), or she’ll tell you that it looks like something could be going on, and suggest you get a test done. Yeah, it’s scary, but seriously? Stop being a little bitch. You’re an adult. You’re having sex. Whether or not you think you have the herp, you should get a full STD (or is it STI? I never know what the correct term is) test to see what you’re working with. Worst case? You have something and you deal with it. It’s honestly that simple.
WebMD That Shit
Once you have your verdict, it’s time to get learning. The doctor has tons of information, but you can find more online. Read about people who have whatever it is you’re crawling with (but try to avoid the horror stories). Go to reputable websites and learn the best ways to recover, or in some cases, prevent future outbreaks. No, it’s not ideal, and yes, it’s frustrating and upsetting. But look at the facts. According to the CDC, “one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.” And as for cold sores or oral herpes? The number is wayyy higher. Johns Hopkins Medicine says that, “50 percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. About 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.” At that point, it’s almost like you’re a loser if you don’t have herpes, ya feel?
Take Your Freshman Year RA’s Advice And Be Safe
Once you know whether or not your life is going to be filled with popping L-lysine and calling off of work the second you feel a tingling on your lip, it’s time to take some precautions. If you know you have something, be a good person and inform your partner. Multiple, if you have to. Take the proper measures so you don’t become the girl who spreads shit to an entire fraternity house. If you came out clean (well, STD speaking, of course), use this as a learning lesson. Wrap things before you get tapped by things, and consider whatever precautions people take before oral sex. Condoms? Dental dams? Human sacrifice? Whatever your method, do that too. Your next STD (STI? I feel like it’s STI. Who’s to say, really?) test will thank you.
Look On The Bright Side
So, the worst thing happened. You found a little bump. You went to the doctor. You had your exam and your freakout and your blood test, and the results are in. You got it. Herpes. Before you think it’s the end of the world, remember the facts. There’s medication that can reduce the outbreaks and there’s makeup that can cover up the fact that you look like a German boy most of the time. Plus, if you got it from some guy you like, just realize: odds are if he has it, he’ll freak out too. Then, you’ll freak out together and you can convince him that you’ll never find love again so you have to stay together.
Take it from someone who mysteriously started getting the occasional cold sore her senior year of college — you’ll be fine. Besides, if you don’t get a ring by spring, sharing HSV-1 is the next best thing. Right? RIGHT?!.
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