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Home Ask the Experts Ask the Experts Was I misdiagnosed?

Was I misdiagnosed?

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I was diagnosed with genital herpes a few years ago when I went to the doctor for what I thought was a yeast infection. She saw sores that she said looked like herpes and gave me a prescription for valacyclovir. I started taking the medication and my symptoms disappeared pretty quickly. Since then, I haven’t had any other similar symptoms, so I haven’t given it too much thought. I just started dating someone new, though, and this has been on my mind. I don’t remember anything more than the doctor doing an exam. I don’t think she took a swab and I definitely didn’t have a blood test. Should I get a test? Is it possible I don’t have herpes after all?

It’s possible you were misdiagnosed. It’s also possible that you have genital herpes. From what you describe, the one thing that does seem certain is that you weren’t given a specific test for herpes when you were initially diagnosed (at least from your recollection). While your symptoms may have “looked like herpes,” this is hardly a reliable diagnosis. Additionally, even though your initial symptoms disappeared after you took antiviral medication, it’s possible that the symptoms may have been caused by something else, and would have resolved anyway. Lots of possibilities, but nothing certain.

You no doubt want something more certain—a confirmation of the original diagnosis. Since you mention that you haven’t had any recognizable symptoms since your initial visit a few years back, you can talk to your healthcare provider about your concerns and request a type-specific IgG blood test. This test will look for antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2 and determine which, if either, you may have been infected with.

You mention that a new partner prompted your concern about the diagnosis. Perhaps you’re thinking of beginning a new sexual relationship and are concerned about passing this on? It’s certainly good that you are thinking about him, but it’s also good to be concerned about your own health. Perhaps this can be the beginning of a conversation between the two of you about sexually transmitted infections and prevention.


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