Living with Herpes: A Woman’s Story

Can a single diagnosis be the reason why all your happiness, desires and goals immediately vanish?

On the Self-Care Goddess podcast episode #75, Alexandra Harbushka shares with us her inspiring story about living with herpes. After her diagnosis she made a brave decision to move forward with her life and learn how to cope, heal and live with the virus. Her conscious choice to ‘not be a victim’ to herpes is an encouraging example for the community to overcome the stigma and feel embraced, secure & comfortable with your body despite having a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).

This blog post summarizes just a few of the golden nuggets from our insightful conversation, for the full details listen to the entire episode here or on your favourite podcast platform by searching for the Self-Care Goddess podcast.

What Does A Herpes Diagnosis Mean?

Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that causes blisters and ulcers. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is passed on through skin-to-skin contact and affects various areas of the body most commonly the genitals or mouth. The blisters heal with time, but the virus that causes them cannot be cured. Herpes lies dormant in our nervous system. It travels along the nerves and usually people experience nerve pain or neck tension before an outbreak. There are 2 types of herpes:

  • HSV1 or oral herpes is more common because it’s on the mouth and lies dormant along the neck jaw area.
  • HSV2 or genital herpes lies dormant along our spine, pelvic area.

Just like any STD ‘herpes’ has an extreme negative connotation to it. When we hear the word genital herpes, we associate it with sexual shame, promiscuity, punishment and adultery.

Statistically, 2 out of 3 people have HSV1 and 1 out of 6 people have HSV2. This means that roughly 80% of the population has one type or the other! We have all come in contact with the virus; kissed somebody with it or shared a glass of beer / lemonade from somebody who has it. By the age of 50, 90% of the population has been introduced to the virus. It is astonishing that you may have it and not know it, because most people are asymptomatic. The youth are at higher risk and are increasingly being diagnosed with herpes due to lack of education. We must know that all cold sores are herpes virus. If the mouth is used for sexual pleasure oral herpes can be transmitted to your partner’s genitals. When the virus sheds the person has no signs or symptoms and isn’t aware that it’s happening. This is when majority (70%) of transmissions occur without an outbreak. So, even if the person is asymptomatic, there’s still a chance for them to transmit the virus if it is active at that particular time or if the immune system is weak.

I invite you to read my interesting blog post, “How To Build YOUR Resilience?”

What Are Some Symptoms?

Herpes symptoms come and go. Alexandra talks about a few common symptoms of herpes which are:

  • lesions and cold sores
  • fatigue
  • flu like symptoms, such as body aches, feeling tired or rundown
  • nerve pain – down the leg or back
  • hot burning sensation
  • a tingling sensation like a bug walking on your skin
  • itchiness

Listen to podcast episode #19 “The Role of Herbs in Holistic Healing”, on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast

How To Manage Herpes Symptoms?

Herpes infection can be managed with antiviral drug therapy and Self-Care measures. Simple changes to your lifestyle and attitude can make it easier to cope. Here are some tips to manage/ prevent a herpes outbreak or transmission:

  1. Manage your immune system, stress levels and sleep.
  2. Calm down the nervous system.
  3. Manage adrenaline
  4. Apply topical creams on the blisters for relief
  5. Take a prescription drug Acyclovir, which according to the FDA is the best way to prevent transmission to a partner.
  6. Take natural supplements that would also help internally keep the virus out of replication mode and boost your immune system.

I invite you to podcast episode #11 “Nutritional & Lifestyle Tips for Increasing Your Metabolism”, on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.

Foods That Help With Prevention / Outbreak

Arginine is an essential amino acid that helps cardiovascular system and the body needs it to function properly. But arginine promotes HSV replication so we must take Lysine, which has antiviral effects that block the activity of arginine and prevents the herpes virus from growing. We can either take lysine supplements or choose foods high in lysine such as fish, dairy, potatoes or lean protein like eggs which are all high in lysine. According to Alexandra the cleaner your diet, the lesser you need to worry about the arginine- lysine ratios. It’s best to follow the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time, follow a clean diet and 20% of the time some indulgence is acceptable. We can also take a supplement called Monolaurin. Herpes is an enveloped virus like COVID or Cold Flu. They have an outer shell that the immune system cannot penetrate to fight it. Monolaurin disrupts that outer shell causing disintegration of the viral envelope so that our immune system can now penetrate the virus and fight it. To summarize – including foods with extra lysine or supplement with monolaurin helps prevent a herpes outbreak.

Dating With Herpes

Are you out of the dating game with herpes? Absolutely not!

There’s no reason to stop looking for love and fun. Initially it can be extremely terrifying but remember rejection is going to happen regardless of having herpes or not. Eventually, it’s whoever you are attracted to and has accepted you for who you are, that is worthy of your time and relationship. Others have deselected themselves using herpes as an excuse because herpes doesn’t detract from your many desirable qualities which have drawn people to you in the first place. In case of unprotected sex with herpes, if the virus is dormant, transmission is lower. When in a new relationship, do everything possible to prevent transmission simply to avoid any extra stress. Your sex or dating life is going to be completely normal. There may be times that you cannot have sex with herpes, just like other times in life when you or your partner are sick, just don’t feel like it or are tired.

I invite you to read my blog post “EFT Tapping For Your Mental Health”.

Here are this week’s self-care tips. For past podcast guests self-care habits, check out my Instagram or Facebook page.

For free guided meditation videos and Breathwork demonstrations subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Take Home Message

This blog highlights Alexandra’s story living and dealing with genital herpes. This is not everybody’s story but we all have a story or something that we are terrified, would never want anyone to know or something that is holding us back. Understand that other people are going through the same thing or their own version of it and that you are not alone. Your story isn’t unique so find support, listen to podcasts, subscribe to relevant YouTube channels and access social media for amazing tips and information. Find a way to support yourself and create a community that can also support you.


Free Download:

Listen to the full podcast episode #75 on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.

I look forward to connecting with you and learning more about your story and your health and wellness goals. Schedule a FREE introduction call here.