Search
My Current Location Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

Signs of Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases

By

Chris Iliades, MD

Was this helpful? (9)
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

How to Talk With Your Doctor About Sex

Many people are reluctant to talk with their doctor about sex. But an honest conversation is the first step in finding treatment for sexual issues.
ADVERTISEMENT
sad male

Anyone who’s sexually active is at risk of developing a sexually transmitted disease (STD). These are infections usually spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex. About 20 million Americans get an STD every year, half of them 15 to 24 years old. How do you know if you might be one of them?

Because there are more than 25 types of STDs, there are many different symptoms. But some STDs are more common than others. Some symptoms are, too. 

Common STD Symptoms

STDs can lead to serious health problems. Infections can spread through your body and cause permanent damage. For example, you may not be able to get pregnant if you have damage to the reproductive organs. That’s why it’s important to know STD warning signs. 

Some of the most common STDs and their symptoms include: 

At Your Appointment

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Birth Control

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): Almost all sexually active people have been infected at some point. HPV often goes away without causing symptoms. But, some types of HPV can cause warts. They show up on your genital area or thighs. There may be one or many warts. They can be raised or flat, or they may look like tiny cauliflowers. Another type of HPV can cause cervical cancer. It has no symptoms until the cancer is far along. That makes HPV screening all the more important.

  • Chlamydia: This is the most commonly reported STD in the United States. Its symptoms may take several weeks to show up. Or, you might not have symptoms. If you do, they could include discharge from the vagina or penis and burning pain when passing urine. The testicles may be painful and swollen. Women may bleed between periods. Men and women may have rectal discharge, burning and bleeding.

  • Genital herpes: About 1 in 6 Americans 14 to 49 years old gets this STD. Some people have mild symptoms. Others have none. The most common symptom is one or more blisters that burst and turn into painful sores. These can appear on or near your genitals, anus or mouth. Sores usually heal in a few weeks, but they can come back.

  • Trichomoniasis: Of STDs that can be cured, this is the most common one in the United States. It affects almost four million people. Only about a third of them have any symptoms. It can take weeks for symptoms to show up. You may notice itching, burning and discharge from the penis or vagina. Passing urine and having sex may be painful.

  • Gonorrhea: This STD is common among people 15 to 24 years old. Both men and women can have this STD without symptoms. For men who do have symptoms, they can include penile burning, discolored penile discharge and painful testicles. Women may have burning, discharge and bleeding between periods. Both men and women can have anal itching, soreness and discharge.

  • Syphilis: This STD can have many symptoms. Some call syphilis the “great imitator” because many of its symptoms look like symptoms of other diseases. In the early stages, syphilis can cause a firm but painless sore on the genitals, anus or mouth. Later on, syphilis can cause sores, skin rash, weight loss, and swollen glands. Without treatment, syphilis can lead to blindness and nerve damage.

  • HIV/AIDS: Symptoms of acute HIV infection can seem like signs of the flu or a viral infection. AIDS symptoms can take years to develop. AIDS symptoms can include rapid weight loss, recurring fever, night sweats, extreme fatigue, swollen glands, lengthy bouts of diarrhea, memory loss, depression, and more. It is important to know that having an STD like chlamydia, gonorrhea or trichomoniasis more than doubles your chances of getting an HIV infection. 

Talk with a doctor if you have any signs of an STD. However, because many STDs have no symptoms, it's also important to be screened for STDs. To find out who should get screened for STDs, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on STD screening.

Was this helpful? (9)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 16, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women's Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/sexually-transmitted-infections...
  2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). New York State Department of Health. https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/std/
  3. Genital HPV Infection -- Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm    
  4. Chlamydia. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/default.htm
  5. Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/STDFact-Herpes.htm
  6. Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/STDFact-Trichomoniasis.htm
  7. Gonorrhea - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/STDFact-gonorrhea.htm
  8. Syphilis - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm
  9. STDs and HIV - CDC Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/sTd/hiv/STDFact-STD-HIV.htm
  10. Symptoms of HIV. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. AIDS.gov. https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/signs-and-symptoms/
  11. CDC Fact Sheet: Incidence, Prevalence and Cost of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats/STI-Estimates-Fact-Sheet-Feb-2013.pdf
  12. Symptoms and Health Consequences of HPV. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/signs-symptoms.html

You Might Also Like

Share via Email

PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

How Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Drive

NEXT ARTICLE:

How to Protect Yourself from Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Up Next

How to Protect Yourself from Sexually Transmitted Diseases