Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
If you’re having sex, you may also be experiencing STD symptoms. STD symptoms can occur regardless of what type of sex (vaginal, oral or anal) you’re having, or whether you use condoms. Although condoms when correctly and consistently used are highly effective for reducing transmission of STDs, no method (other than abstinence) is 100 percent effective. This is particularly true with certain STDs, such as genital warts and genital herpes.
STD symptoms can range from subtle to obvious. If you think you’re experiencing STD symptoms, see a doctor. Some STD symptoms can be treated easily and eliminated. Other STD symptoms require more involved and long-term treatment.
Either way, it’s essential to be evaluated, and (if diagnosed with an STD) be treated. It’s also essential to inform any partners so that they can be evaluated and treated. If untreated, STDs can increase your risk of acquiring another STD such as HIV. This happens because an STD can stimulate an immune response in the genital area or cause sores, either of which might make HIV transmission more likely. Some untreated STDs can also lead to infertility.
Here are some common STDs and their symptoms.
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 in women, Discharge from the penis in men, Painful sexual intercourse in women, Testicular pain in men.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of your 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, Frequent urination, Pain during sexual intercourse.
HIV is an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV interferes with your body’s ability to effectively fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause disease, and it can lead to AIDS, a chronic, life-threatening disease.
When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms at all. Some people develop a flu-like illness, usually two to six weeks after being infected. Early HIV symptoms may include:
Fever, Headache, Fatigue, Swollen lymph glands, Rash
These early symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, you are very infectious. More persistent or severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for 10 years or more after the initial infection.
As the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells, you may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms such as:
Swollen lymph nodes, often one of the first signs of HIV infection, Diarrhea, Weight loss, Fever, Cough and shortness of breath
Signs and symptoms of later stage HIV infection include:
Persistent, unexplained fatigue, Soaking night sweats, Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F (38 C) for several weeks, Swelling of lymph nodes for more than three months, Chronic diarrhea, Persistent headaches.
Genital herpes 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 episodes over a period of decades.
When present, genital herpes symptoms may include:
Small, red bumps, blisters (vesicles) or open sores (ulcers) in the genital, anal and nearby areas, Pain or itching around your genital area, buttocks or 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.