Lawrence Jaeger is an expert Medical Dermatologist in New York City and provides testing and treatment for patients exhibiting symptoms of STDs
No matter if you’re gay, married or single, or if you have sex, you may have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) with subtle or noticeable symptoms.
Although condoms are highly effective for reducing transmission of STDs, no method is foolproof.
STD symptoms aren’t always obvious. Some STDs can be treated easily and eliminated, but others require more involved, long-term treatment.
It’s essential to be evaluated, and — if diagnosed with an STD, also known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) — get treated. Any partners must be informed as well so that they can be evaluated and treated.
If untreated, STDs can increase your risk of acquiring another STD because it can stimulate an immune response in the genital area or cause sores. Some untreated STDs can also lead to infertility.
STIs Often Are Asymptomatic
You could have an STI and be asymptomatic — without any signs or symptoms. In fact, this happens with a lot of STIs. Even though you have no symptoms, you’re still at risk of passing the infection along to your sex partners. That’s why it’s important to use protection, such as a condom, during sex and visit your doctor on a regular basis for STI screening, so you can identify a potential infection and get treated for it before passing it along to someone else.
Some of the following diseases, such as hepatitis, can be transmitted without sexual contact. Others, such as gonorrhea, can only be transmitted through sexual contact.
Hepatitis A, B and C are all contagious viral infections that affect your liver. Hepatitis B and C are the most serious of the three, but each can cause your liver to become inflamed.
Some people never develop signs or symptoms. But for those who do, signs and symptoms may occur after several weeks and may include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
• Loss of appetite
• Dark urine
• Muscle or joint pain
• Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of the genital tract. The first gonorrhea symptoms generally appear within two to 10 days after exposure. However, some people may be infected for months before signs or symptoms occur. Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea may include:
• Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina
• Pain or burning sensation when urinating
• Abnormal menstrual bleeding
• Painful, swollen testicles
• Painful bowel movements
• Anal itching
Genital Herpes Symptoms
Genital herpes 0 is highly contagious and caused by a type of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV enters your body through small breaks in your skin or mucous membranes. Most people with HSV never know they have it, because they have no signs or symptoms. The signs and symptoms of HSV can be so mild they go unnoticed. When signs and symptoms are noticeable, the first episode is generally the worst. Some people never experience a second episode. Other people, however, can experience recurrent episodes over a period of decades.
When present, genital herpes signs and symptoms may include:
• Small, red bumps, blisters (vesicles) or open sores (ulcers) in the genital, anal and nearby areas
• Pain or itching around the genital area, buttocks and inner thighs
The initial symptom of genital herpes usually is pain or itching, beginning within a few weeks after exposure to an infected sexual partner. After several days, small, red bumps may appear. They then rupture, becoming ulcers that ooze or bleed. Eventually, scabs form and the ulcers heal.
In women, sores can erupt in the vaginal area, external genitals, buttocks, anus or cervix. In men, sores can appear on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs, or inside the urethra, the tube from the bladder through the penis.
While you have ulcers, it may be painful to urinate. You may also experience pain and tenderness in your genital area until the infection clears. During an initial episode, you may have flu-like signs and symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches and fever, as well as swollen lymph nodes in your groin.
In some cases, the infection can be active and contagious even when sores aren’t present.
Genital warts (HPV infection) Symptoms
Genital warts, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), are one of the most common types of STDs. The signs and symptoms of genital warts include:
• Small, flesh-colored or gray swellings in your genital area
• Several warts close together that take on a cauliflower shape
• Itching or discomfort in your genital area
• Bleeding with intercourse
Often, however, genital warts cause no symptoms. Genital warts may be as small as 1 millimeter in diameter or may multiply into large clusters.
In women, genital warts can grow on the vulva, the walls of the vagina, the area between the external genitals and the anus, and the cervix. In men, they may occur on the tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus. Genital warts can also develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sex with an infected person.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of your genital tract. Chlamydia may be difficult for you to detect because early-stage infections often cause few or no signs and symptoms. When they do occur, they usually start one to three weeks after you’ve been exposed to chlamydia. Even when signs and symptoms do occur, they’re often mild and passing, making them easy to overlook.
Signs and symptoms may include:
• Painful urination
• Lower abdominal pain
• Vaginal discharge
• Discharge from the penis
• Pain during sexual intercourse in women
• Testicular pain
Trichomoniasis is a common STI caused by a microscopic, one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This organism spreads during sexual intercourse. The organism usually infects the urinary tract in men, but often causes no symptoms in men. Trichomoniasis typically infects the vagina in women. When trichomoniasis causes symptoms, they may range from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Signs and symptoms may include:
• Clear, white, greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge
• Discharge from the penis
• Strong vaginal odor
• Vaginal itching or irritation
• Itching or irritation inside the penis
• Pain during sexual intercourse
• Painful urination
If you suspect you have these or other STIs or that you may have been exposed to one, see your doctor for STI testing. Timely diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid or delay more-severe, potentially life-threatening health problems and to avoid infecting others.