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Oh Joy Sex Toy: Herpes!

Oh Joy Sex Toy is a weekly comics series that graphically explores sex and sexuality. This week, artist Erika Moen discusses dealing with the dreaded scourge of cold sores. 

A comic about herpes and dealing with cold sores

Read a bunch more Oh Joy Sex Toy comics, including one about the history of vibrators

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9 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Valacyclovir is a life

Valacyclovir is a life changer for me - take 2 grams at the start of the outbreak (tingling) and 2 more 12 hours later and no herpes (or only small bump without the oozing, lesioning goodness - I used to go weeks with nasty sores on my mouth and now I can prevent or shorten it substantially.

Genital Herpes

It would be helpful to provide more information on HVS-2, genital herpes. The information should include suggestions for people who are latex sensitive. Thanks for this helpful graphic.

I agree. As someone who has

I agree. As someone who has genital herpes I am often frustrated by how little I see written about it. How to deal with it, how common it is, how little it affects your life, and how likely it is you have already been exposed to it by an unknowing or non-disclosing partner.

All of the information here applies to genital herpes but the focus is on oral herpes. It distinguishes the two types at the end, and makes a point of saying the writer has oral, not genital herpes. I understand not wanting your name to be associated with genital herpes, as I don't want mine to be. The author very well may not have it, but it is hard for me to see an end to the stigma surrounding herpes when no one anywhere is willing to admit they have this disease publicly. It is especially disappointing to me when publications that I think otherwise do very good work around sex education miss their opportunity to do real & helpful education around genital herpes.

I think the point was to mad

I think the point was to mad people understand that oral herpes -is- herpes and that people with genital herpes shouldn't be stigmatized, as we don't stigmatize folks with cold sores. I know so many people with cold sores who either don't understand that they can transmit them at all because they don't know it's a virus, or they know it's oral herpes but think they can't transmit their virus during oral sex and of course they can.

I've never seen cold sores referred to as herpes outside of sex ed contexts and even then it's rare. I also rarely see herpes discussions that talk about oral herpes. considering how few people know about oral gonorhea, and how many people never use barriers during oral sex, I think emphasizing that sti's aren't different just because they're in your mouth is important.

Alternatives to Rx

Ahhh, the lack of proper sex ed and being young, naive, and sexually experimental. Not surprising, found me with genital HSV-1. It took a great deal of time to recover from the shame and horror. Twice I suffered through an outbreak until it would be so fierce and so bad that I'd eventually go crawling in pain to the emergency room, convinced my symptoms were too awful to be merely herpes. When my outbreaks became more frequent, I tried using a low dose, daily Rx or I'd rush to the clinic for an emergency prescription for a full-on outbreak. At times, acyclovir would help relieve or preempt symptoms immediately. Other times, it wouldn't work at all.

I was using prescriptions for about a year before I got frustrated with the cost, the clinic visits, and feeling like I was only treating the symptoms and that I'd just be doing that fooorever. Eventually, my herpes and I came to terms with each other. I learned more about the virus--how it works, what it "wants", what it doesn't; I started to recognize the very first tinglings of it "waking up" in my body. I worked to keep my stress levels in check, eating healthy and staying active. Early signs of an oncoming outbreak would be a warning flag that I needed to slow down, de-stress, and take care of myself. I started taking a daily supplement of Lysine, an amino-acid with antiviral effects that block the activity of arginine. Arginine is another amino-acid but it promotes HSV replication and is found in foods such as seeds, dairy, meats, and certain grains, veg, fruit, and legumes. My outbreaks have become far less frequent and much less severe. When I sense the virus has "awakened", I bump up the Lysine and my immune system with vitamins, sleep, and good food. In turn, I feel like I've taken control of my health, my body, and this virus instead of having to rely on only pharmacies and physicians. Good living and good health to everyone living with this or any other STI.

For those of you wanting more

For those of you wanting more about HSV-2, is a great resource. The person who runs the blog has HSV-2 and has taken on the monumental and laudable effort to de-stigmatize it.

Decolorized iodine

I have been utterly flabbergasted at how well white (decolorized) iodine wipes out my mouth sores. I haven't had one since I discovered it. Apply liberally and often as soon as you feel a sore starting. It stops ours in their tracks. You can get it on eBay or at CVS for $5, a fraction of the prescription costs.

Thanks for this! I knew all

Thanks for this! I knew all of this information but it's still embarrassing when some smart ass feels the need to see my sores and say, "ewwwww....herpes".

I have found that dabbing a little bit of witch hazel whenI feel the tingle and during the outbreak greatly reduces the time and severity.

There's a slight error in

There's a slight error in your illustration. My partner was diagnosed with herpes and I went to Planned Parenthood to get tested. I'm not sure if this is true for all PPs, but the one in my neighborhood does not perform STD testing for herpes, only chlamydia and gonorrhea. I was told that they could only perform a test on an open lesion after I've had an outbreak, but they could do nothing for me if I was asymptomatic. A blood test, which they do not perform, would only show if my body was carrying the antibodies for HSV-1 or HSV-2, but this could mean I've only been exposed and do not actually carry the virus.