No thank you! (Claire)

It all started roughly 16 months ago. Long term relationship, unfaithful partner, and then my completely out of character behaviour in response to that. An unwanted sexual encounter was one of the results. And I felt bruised and aching and dirty. In reality I had a yeast infection, but mentally I still felt disgusting. It took me what felt like forever to get rid of, I was physically exhausted and surprised that this little organ of my body had so much power over me. As a young woman, realising yourself and becoming a sexual being you still don’t necessarily recognise that power, not until an experience makes it blindingly obvious.

And then there was the ulcers.

Oozing, angry, painful, swollen, burning. And once more I felt disgusting, vile and unlovable. And embarrassed, incredibly humiliated. Someone says the word herpes and you think of promiscuity and a very active sex life. And that is not always the case, and it shouldn’t be the stereotype. But due to that, the word alone sounded like some awful brand on me, tattooed forever that will always be recognisable, and disgusting. Like I would be veiwed.

This is now our herpes. Long term partner and I are equally potential recipients of the virus, and fault or blame has no place in our relationship. We both made mistakes but the reality is not as horrific as general knowledge had us believe. Lots of reading later, and it turns out there’s only a 50% chance that after the first flair it recurs, and even if it does, it gets less and less every time it recurs. No one talks about this, no one told us this. No one told me owning a vagina would be a problem, from stabbing period pains and heavy bleeding, to viruses and lesions. You are a woman, you can cope regardless. But I cannot always and I do not have to just ‘cope’. I can do more than manage.

Thank you vagina, but no thank you!