STD symptoms | What are the most common symptoms of an STD?

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STD symptoms | What are the most common symptoms of an STD?

STD symptoms can be difficult to spot so it’s important for anyone who is sexually active to have a good understanding of what they are and what they could mean. Let’s run through some of the most common types of STDs, as well as their associated symptoms.

Some of the most common STDs symptoms in females may include

  • Itchiness
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Changes in vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the affected area

Some of the most common STD symptoms in males may include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis
  • Lumps or bumps on the genital area
  • Sores or ulcers on the genital area
  • Burning or pain during urination
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the testicles

The STD symptoms you may be experiencing, depend on the type of sexually transmitted disease you have contracted.

couple-having-sex

Sexually transmitted diseases can be broken into three groups.

  1. Bacterial
  2. Viral
  3. Parasitic

STD symptoms can be characteristic of each group. So it’s helpful to know which category each STD is broken into to begin with.

Bacterial STDs include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Mycoplasma
  • Bacterial vaginosis

Viral STDs include: 

  • HIV
  • Herpes (1& 2)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Hepatitis B

Parasitic STDs include: 

  • Trichomoniasis
  • Ureaplasma

STD Symptoms | Types of STDs

STD symptoms across bacterial, viral and parasitic sexually transmitted diseases can be similar in nature, though this is not always the case, so the best thing you can do is learn about the symptoms of each type of STD. If the signs and symptoms sound familiar to you, it’s time to get tested.

Let’s dive in!

Chlamydia 

The symptoms of chlamydia in males and females may include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Pain in the testicles (males)
  • Discharge from the penis (males)
  • Pain in the rectum (males)
  • Discharge from the rectum (males)
  • Spotting (bleeding) between periods (females)
  • Bleeding after sex (females)

Gonorrhea 

The symptoms of gonorrhea in males and females may include:

  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Painful urination
  • A sore throat
  • An increased need to urinate
  • White, beige or green discharge from the vagina or penis
  • Heavier periods (females)
  • Spotting between periods (females)
  • Swollen testicles (males)
  • Pain in the testicles (males)
  • Redness and/or swelling at the opening of the penis (males)

Syphilis 

The symptoms of syphilis depend on the stage of the syphilis you are experiencing. Syphilis can be broken into primary, secondary, latent and tertiary stages.

The symptoms of syphilis in males and females may include:

Primary 

  • The development of a chancre, known as a sore (this will be round and firm to the touch). Usually this chancre will be painless.

Secondary 

  • A rash covering the whole body, starting at the hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Lumps on the genitals (female)

Latent 

  • The Latent period refers to the 12 month period following initial infection, usually there are no symptoms during the latent stage.

Tertiary 

  • Tertiary syphilis often occurs in the years following infection. If the condition has not been diagnosed, it can affect the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.

contraception

Mycoplasma

The symptoms of mycoplasma in males and females may include:

  • Pain in the genitals
  • Abdominal pain
  • More frequent urination pain during intercourse
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • Discharge from the vagina (females)
  • Vaginal bleeding (females)
  • Pain during sex or ejaculation (males)
  • Discharge from the penis (males)

Bacterial vaginosis 

Bacterial vaginosis is a condition which only affects women, it is a type of vaginal inflammation caused by the overgrowth of bacteria naturally found in the vagina, which upsets the natural balance.

The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis in females may include:

  • Thin, grey, white or green vaginal discharge
  • Itching in the vagina
  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Foul-smelling “fishy” vaginal odour

HIV 

The symptoms of HIV in males and females may include:

  • Muscle aches or pains
  • Sore throat and/or swollen glands
  • Painful mouth sores
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body rash
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Headaches and/or difficulty concentrating
  • Lymph nodes swelling
  • Pneumonia
  • Muscle and/or joints pain
  • Thicker nails
  • Vaginal infections, most commonly yeast and bacterial vaginosis (females)
  • Irregular periods (females)

Herpes (1& 2)

The symptoms of herpes 1 & 2 in males and females may include:

  • Small bumps on the genital area, sometimes appearing as a cluster of blisters
  • Blisters that appear as a cluster on or around the mouth
  • Ulcers around the genital or mouth
  • Sores on the buttocks, anus, thighs or mouth
  • Small bumps on the vagina, anus or mouth
  • Burning, itching or pain at the point of sexual contact
  • Pain in your lower back, buttocks and/or legs
  • Ulcers on the vagina or anus which make urination painful (females)
  • Scabs on the vagina or anus (females)

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

The symptoms of human papillomavirus (HPV) in males and females may include:

  • Warts on the penis, scrotum, anus or groin (males)
  • Irregular skin changes on the vagina, cervix or anus (females)
  • Warts which may appear as lumps or bumps on the vagina, cervix or anus (females)
  • Warts which may appear as lumps on the back of the throat (females)

Hepatitis B 

The symptoms of hepatitis B in males and females may include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • A change in appetite
  • Darker urine
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes (jaundice)

Trichomoniasis 

The symptoms of trichomoniasis in males and females may include:

  • Itching or irritation of the anus
  • Unusual lumps or bumps around the genitals and/or anus
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Itching and/or a burning sensation inside the penis (males)
  • Burning after urination (males)
  • Burning after ejaculation (males)
  • Unusual discharge from the penis (males)
  • Itching and/or a burning sensation inside the vagina (females)
  • Redness inside the vagina (females)
  • Pain during sex (females)
  • Irregular vaginal discharge (females)
  • A fishy smell coming from the vagina (females)

Ureaplasma

The symptoms of ureaplasma in males and females may include:

  • Painful urination
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Irregular vaginal discharge

FAQ

How long does it take for the symptoms of an STD to appear?

STD symptoms usually take 1-3 weeks to appear after an unprotected sexual encounter, however they can appear as soon as four days, or on the other side of the scale, months or years.

Is it safer to use two condoms instead of one? 

It is not safer to use two condoms instead of one, infact wearing two condoms can lead to friction which may cause condom breakage. It’s always a good idea to be well-stocked up with condoms so you have a spare if the first one breaks, but you should not wear two at a time.

What can I do to avoid getting an STD?

  • Always use a condom. Condoms lessen the risk of infection for all STDs. You can still get certain STDs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s skin even when using a condom.
  • Limit sexual partners if possible and make sure that you have open honest conversations with your partners regarding sexual history and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Get tested at least once a year.

Resources 

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