Around, I think, mid 2007 I noticed a cut, kind of like a paper cut, on the shaft of my penis. I think it also hurt a bit when I peed. It was a bit itchy and tender but it soon cleared up and I thought no more about it. Until that point I had only slept with 2 women. The second was a one night stand with a friend who was leaving in March 2007.
Anyway, at the end of 2007, I started going out with the love of my life – I’m still with her today. As we were both living abroad, there was a period when we were not together because she had to return home early. During that period, I developed what I would describe as something like a crater on the shaft of my penis. It wasn’t painful and it cleared up on its own. I was a bit concerned, but as my girlfriend was a virgin when we met, I didn’t think it could be a STI so I just kind of forgot about it.
Anyway, around August 2011 I read an article about herpes and I got scared because I thought that it sounded a bit like the symptoms I had experienced. I went to a STI clinic and was tested for everything that they can test for. Luckily everything came back negative, but unfortunately they can’t test for herpes. I have spoken to the nurses there and my own GP and both say that while it could have been herpes, they don’t think it was because there has been no re-occurrence and there was only one ulcer/crater, not lots of little blisters that joined together. I also don’t recall having any secondary flu like symptoms. However, as it was so long ago my memory is a little foggy.
Neither the nurses nor doctor recommended the blood test because it doesn’t distinguish between oral and genital herpes. They have said that if I have been exposed to oral herpes (as is statistically likely, though I have never had a cold sore), the antibodies may appear in the test, making me fear genital herpes even more, even if I don’t have it.
The not knowing absolutely kills me. My girlfriend and I haven’t had full penetrative sex for around 3 years (for non STI reasons) but I adore her and want to marry her and raise a family, but don’t feel like I can do that without telling her about the symptoms I experienced.
However, I’m scared that if I tell her she’ll leave me, or feel like I’ve betrayed her somehow by not telling her. In addition, the weight of carrying this burden is really tough for me and I don’t want to make her feel the same way if she gets scared that perhaps she has it.
The nurses and doctor I have discussed this with have advised me not to tell her because I have nothing conclusive to tell her, and in their opinion they consider it unlikely that I do have herpes. However, I don’t think it’s fair to continue my relationship with my girlfriend without telling her.
That’s the main crux of my problem – I feel like a coward for not telling her, but then at other times I feel like I would be selfish if I told her because I may be scaring her for nothing, just to make myself feel better.
I love my girlfriend more than anything and don’t want to waste her time – if I tell her all of this and she doesn’t want to stay with me, I want to give her enough time to find someone else she can start a family with as we are both in our early 30s. I feel like I have to make some kind of decision because I am scared to touch her in case I infect her with this, though I don’t even know if I have it.