Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 Dream Big, Community Member, asks

Q: Outbreak increase

I was 18 when I got genital herpes. I was fortunate and only had 2-3 outbreaks a year. However, recently since I turned 40, I have been outbreaks once a month that last up to two weeks and are actually quite painful, almost similar to my very first outbreak. . It has been going on now for about nine months. I was hoping things would change, but it does not appear to be the case.  Why would this happen? What can I do to keep the outbreaks under control? Would Valtrex help?

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Answers (5)
healthgal, Health Pro
6/24/08 10:58pm

I haven't found any substantial studies to support this but I talked to fellow colleagues and we are wondering if (a) peri-menopause or menopause with the hormonal shifts could somehow impact the virus and frequency of recurrences or (b) many of us are in this age group and find stress actually heightened because kids are leaving the nest for college;professional experiences are sometimes challenging at this age - you're not going where you want to go and are feeling your age (c) your dealing with the stress of aging parents - it can be a great time in your life or a stressful time - and there's obviously a huge correlation between stress and recurrences.


Those are some of the things I might look at.  Anti-virals can certainly be helpful especially with increased recurrences so do talk to your doctor.

Mermaid2349, Community Member
11/11/13 9:47pm
I was actually trying to find information on the opposite cause and effect relationship? I have just been diagnosed with HSV2 and had been starting to have very slight (almost non-existent) menopausal symptoms, but after my first outbreak, I am now experiencing severe night sweats and hot flashes! Is there any research that says HSV 2 could impact the onset of certain menopausal symptoms?? Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated! Reply
OB/GYN NP Jill, Community Member
2/26/09 11:32am

I also contracted genital herpes as a teen, and have lived with it for over 30 years. I am also an OB/Gyn nurse Practitioner, and for obvious reasons, took a special interest in the care and treatment of my patients living with genital herpes.

I am now 49, am perimenopausal - still having regular periods, but having emotional changes as well as some hot flashes and vaginal dryness. 

I too have been having the exact same symptoms you are describing, and have taken the two Zovirax twice a day treatment. I was having so many outbreaks that I got really concerned about the status of my immune system, and possible side effects of the medication. I went through 6 treatment cycles in one month! Then I tried suppressive therapy, where you take the Zovirax one daily. Every time I went off it, I would have an even worse infection then before.

The following makes sense as far as a plan... The following are next steps for me personally...perhaps some of them would help you too.

See your NP or Dr., ask for an HIV test, just to be sure that you're not missing anything there.

Look at your stress levels, the amount of sleep you're getting, the amount of water you're drinking, and your nutritional status. Make any positive changes you can make to get more sleep, relax more, rest more, eat healthfully, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and take supplements to strengthen your immune system to fight off the virus. These would include vitamin C, and fish oil, as well as B vitamins, especially B6 ( no more than 60 mg B6 due to possible side effects with highter doses).

Make sure you have adequate lubrication during intercourse, even if you have to use a lubricant. Along those lines, minimize any other irritation to the genital area by wearing looser jeans, cotton underwear with no bulky seams, nonperfumed pads and tampons, and be careful about irritation from bike riding, horseback riding or other sports.

It is POSSIBLE (not proven), that hormonal supplementation with estrogen would help decrease the outbreaks, but of course there are risks with taking them. Herpes won't kill us, but cancer potentially could. Try drinking soy milk and eating soy products daily to increase the natural estrogen, also the wild Yam cream available in most health food stores is worth a try.

Best of luck.. get out there and educate yourself about this problem, and write back if you find anymore helpful information. There are many women suffering with the same thing.

catherine philippe, Community Member
2/14/12 4:09pm

i am so glad i am not the only one. i was starting to wonder if it was my immune system but i feel great otherwise so it could not be. i have been taking lysine and probiotics which helps. i also put some aloe vera gel on the vagina. other than that i do everything else you mention. i am also a marathon runner, swimmer, do yoga and lift weights. i am 48. thanks for reassuring me i am not crazy.


helplessinva, Community Member
2/24/12 9:12am

Wow, i'm glad i'm not the only one. I contracted it 12 years ago and I'm 47 now. I'm also para menapausal and noticed lately that I seem to be getting outbreaks monthly and I take daily valtrex. I cant sleep well as I have hot flashes. Other than that, I'm taking vitamins, I work out minimum 5 days a week, I eat healthy and I'm actuallyn ot stressed....I can't keep getting these. UGH will it ease up?


FitnessForLife, Community Member
7/14/12 11:27am

Thank you so much for the information! I contracted herpes at the age of 16 but have not really had too much trouble with it; maybe a couple of outbreaks a year. I am now 49 and have just recently started having monthly outbreaks, which are severe and take about a week to clear up leaving scars on my buttocks. I was wondering if I had shingles because of the larger area of the outbreak.


I also contemplated whether I had been re-infected somehow by contact with gym equipment, tanning beds or if I had HIV (I know I don't)!? I take all my supplements, work out 7 days per week and am in great physical shape! I am relieved to hear that it could just be my age, work stress and/or not enough sleep. While the outbreaks are painful and do interfere in my life, I can live with them, knowing they won't kill me (lol) Thank you again for calming my fears... I’m glad I’m not alone.

Befuddled, Community Member
4/13/10 6:39pm

I have no advice to offer -- I can only say that my story is similar, but at later ages. I'm female; I was in my mid-forties when I contracted genital herpes. Like you, I had infrequent outbreaks.  Now I'm about to turn 66. About 10 weeks ago,  an outbreak began which has waxed and waned, but never receded.  Really uncomfortable.  I'm pretty athletic; have wondered if bike riding has made it worse.  I eat well and take good care of myself.  This has been quite a comeuppance.



moose444, Community Member
2/17/12 2:16am

I have experienced it too... I guess the healthier we keep ourselves, including staying generally healthy, eating well, getting enough sleep, and managing the stress in life, the stronger our immune systems, and the less likely we are to have a herpes episode. As for reducing the frequency of the episode, try hsv-zero when you start feeling itchy…when it’s already get you, hsv-zero can reduce healing time to well under 5 days

kell490, Community Member
5/ 6/14 11:20pm

This is an old post but I'm a man so menopause isn't the issue with me I contracted HSV on the back of my left leg 20 years ago when I was about 28 years old. It would breakout 1 time a year during the summer when it was hot i'm in the south west. Then when I got into my 40's I some how infected a spot above my right eye on my for head probably scratching. It only broke out when I got a sunburn I got concerned it would spread into my eye right above it when I showered or something. I got on valcyclevar which did control it 2 500mg 3 times a day for 7 days. After I started taking the medication I noticed a rebound effect where it would come back as soon as I stopped taking it. I think this has something to do with the medication itself. 

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By Dream Big, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/06/14, First Published: 06/24/08