Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common in men and women. Some STDs can affect the head of the penis and other parts of the male reproductive system, but symptoms are usually different from symptoms in women. It’s important to learn how to recognize signs of STDs in men in order to preserve your reproductive health.
Keep reading to learn more about the most common types of sexually transmitted disease on the penis.
Types of STD on penis
The first thing we need to make very clear is that men can the same STDs that women get — practicing safe sex and getting tested for STDs regularly is equally important for anyone who leads an active sex life. However, the signs and symptoms of STDs can look very different in men and women.
According to the CDC, symptoms of chlamydia in men can include:
- STD discharge from the tip of the penis
- Painful or burning sensation during urination
- Painful, swollen testicles on one or both sides
- Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge
In most cases, chlamydia won’t cause long-term complications in men; however, you can spread it to your female partners. And in rare cases, chlamydia can lead to male fertility problems, and it can also increase your risk of getting HIV.
According to the NHS, symptoms of gonorrhea in men can include:
- Unusual green, white, or yellow discharge from the penis
- Painful or burning sensation while urinating
- Inflammation of the foreskin
- Painful or tender testicles
- Rectal pain or discharge
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Most men who get HPV never show symptoms, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common locations for HPV warts in men include:
In addition to genital warts, HPV in men has also been linked to different types of cancer, including:
- Penile cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Anal cancer
The symptoms of syphilis are similar in men and women, and they happen in stages. According to Planned Parenthood, signs of syphilis can include:
- A painless sore on your penis, anus, or scrotum that heals on its own
- A non-itchy, red or brown, flat rash that starts in the trunk and spreads to the rest of the body after the sore has healed
- Flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, muscle aches, and fatigue
If left untreated, syphilis can progress to tertiary syphilis over time, which can cause damage to many different organs and even lead to death.
According to the CDC, men with trichomoniasis can experience:
- Irritation inside the penis
- Itching in the penis
- Burning sensation after urination or ejaculation
- Penile discharge
Signs of STDs on penis
As we mentioned above, the signs of an STD are usually different in men and women. In fact, even the same STD can look different from one man to the next, and any sign of an STD should be taken seriously.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, some of the most common symptoms of venereal disease on the penis include:
- Bumps on the penis
- Ulcers or sores on the penis
- Unusual penile discharge
- Pain at the opening of the urethra
- Painful urination
- Pain after ejaculating
- Swollen, tender testicles
- Genital rash
Frequently asked questions: STDs in men
How soon will you see signs of an STD?
The incubation period for different STDs is quite different, ranging from a few days to several years. The incubation periods for some of the most common STDs include:
- Chlamydia: 7-21 days
- Gonorrhea: 1-14 days
- Syphilis: 3 weeks
- Trichomoniasis: 5-28 days
- HPV: several months or years
- HIV: several months or years
However, it’s important to keep in mind that many cases of STDs are completely asymptomatic, so you may never experience any symptoms at all. However, you can still transmit STDs to your partner(s) even while asymptomatic.
How do you know if someone has STD?
You should always be on the lookout for possible signs of STDs when you’re being intimate with a partner. Signs of STDs can include genital sores, unusual discharge, or genital rashes. But since most people won’t develop obvious signs of an STD, you should always practice safe sex — the lack of obvious STD symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that someone doesn’t have one. You and your partner should also get tested for STDs regularly to catch any STDs as early as possible.
Do STDs go away?
In some cases, some STDs can go away on their own. For example, according to the CDC, 9 out of 10 cases of HPV go away on their own within two years. However, most STDs require treatment in order to be cured (such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis) and other STDs are chronic and can only be managed, but not completely eliminated (such as HIV and herpes).
It’s impossible to predict if an STD will go away on its own or cause future complications, so you should never ignore symptoms of an STD thinking that it may go away. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to control STDs and prevent health complications, such as fertility problems and infections.
Does an STD smell?
Certain STDs can cause genital discharge with an unusual smell in both men and women. STDs that can cause an unusual or foul smell include:
But as mentioned above, there’s no foolproof way to determine whether someone has an STD simply by how they look or smell, and this symptom doesn’t affect everyone. This can only be achieved through regular STD testing — fortunately, at-home testing provides a quick, easy, and affordable alternative. You can learn more about STD testing at STDWatch.com.
Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet - cdc.gov
Symptoms Gonorrhoea - nhs.uk
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) - my.clevelandclinic.org
What are the symptoms of syphilis? - plannedparenthood.org
Trichomoniasis – CDC Fact Sheet - cdc.gov
Sexually Transmitted Infections - urologyhealth.org
Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet - cdc.gov