Signs You Might Have an STI and Which One

std testHaving an STI can be devastating. It can affect everything from your comfort levels to your sexual encounters (because you have to explain it beforehand), to your fertility and cancer in the long run. You may or may not know where it came from either but it can still be scary and embarrassing. But it doesn’t have to be. It happens.

Consider this fact, HPV has over 40 different and distinct types of infections and among adults, the rate of infection was 42.5 percent (which is so close to half), and it accounts for nearly 66 percent of cervical cancer[1].

This is in the United States alone. So 1 in 4 people at any given time can have HPV. I’ve had HPV, detected by a routine pap smear, which resulted in surgery. It’s not fun, but I know more people who have had it than don’t, and that’s a scary statistic.

But there were no symptoms, like some other STD’s but it’s not guaranteed. Some, the only way to know if you have something is to go get tested, but others you will have some specific symptoms. Let’s take a look at them.

Common General STD Symptoms

There are some basic symptoms that you might see that could indicate that you have an STD. The discharge that you have, can change to a milky one, to a green one.

There could be vaginal itching, blisters in the vaginal area, rash, burning with urination, painful urination, and pain during intercourse[2]. These are some of the most common symptoms that one could experience.

Then there are some other symptoms that are not so common, and you might not even realize they are symptoms of an STD. But they could be considered spotting and bleeding between cycles, painful ulcers on the vagina, pelvic pain, back pain, fever, nausea, sore throat after oral sex, swelling of the joints, and rectal pain and discharge after anal sex[3].

You would generally see these symptoms within about a week or so timeframe if you do have them. However again, you might not experience any symptoms, and an asymptomatic STD can result in some of the worst outcomes because you have never been tested and it can have an effect on your fertility or lead to cancer.

But let’s take a look at some specific diseases and what the potential symptoms are that could link you to what it is.

std test

Trichomoniasis

This is one of the most common, and curable STI that millions of people report every year. Some of the symptoms associated with this STI is a frothy discharge that can be greenish or yellow along with swelling of the vulva and labia and painful urination.

For men, it could also be painful urination and lesions[4], but generally, men are asymptomatic. This one, however, can be treated with antibiotics.

Chlamydia

This is another highly common STD, which can result in infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy. Generally, there are no symptoms but it can cause unusual discharge or pain when urinating.

Some of the other symptoms that women experience can be low-back pain, nausea, pain or bleeding during and after sex.[5] Again, it’s treatable but you must wait to have sex again until you are deemed clear, and your partner should also be tested as well.

Syphilis

Generally, when having sex, if someone has open sores anywhere that sexual parts are going it’s going to be avoided. When left alone, especially if it’s asymptomatic, it can cause brain and nervous system issues, and potentially blood infections or death (scary).

It can be cured with antibiotics if caught early. Some of the most prevalent early signs could be painless sores at the vagina, penis, mouth or anus. It can also include a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Gonorrhea

This is a treatable and preventable STD that can potentially be the cause of infertility, not only in women but also in men. However, new science has found a strain that is antibiotic resistant, which causes a whole other host of issues.

One of the only symptoms that you might sense is unusual discharge or painful urination, as well as swelling in the testicles and bleeding between periods. But without symptoms, you may not even see a doctor because you didn’t know.

HPV

Also known as the Human Papillomavirus, it can result in genital warts or no symptoms at all and generally clears up on its own, but some can result in cancer.[6] Typically, the one that doesn’t show any signs also is the one that causes different types of cancers.

The warts are treated with medication, freezing them off, burning them off, or cutting them off, all of which can potentially take multiple treatments.[7] Abnormal cells can be treated with surgery.

Some infections can pass on to your baby if you are pregnant and they can easily be transferred to a partner if you are not considering and practicing safe sex. The only ways to prevent transmission is to use condoms or abstain from sex, and where is the fun in that.

But you have to be honest with your partners and honest with yourself. You don’t want to continue to spread the disease to others, and also the sooner they get treatment, the less likely that it will be returned to you.

Having an STD can be extremely scary, but many of them are curable with a round of antibiotics. Ensure that you get your regular yearly exams and get tested for diseases as well.

Also when you are with a new partner I would recommend getting checked out a few months after you start having intercourse as well (especially unprotected). It can help you both in the long run. So practice safe sex and be healthy.

References:

  1. CDC. 2016 Sexually Transmitted Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats16/other.htm#hpv
  2. STD Check. Common STD Symptoms in Women – STD Signs and Symptoms. https://www.stdcheck.com/std-symptoms-women.php
  3. See above #2
  4. Before Play. Trichomoniasis. https://beforeplay.org/stds/trichomoniasis/
  5. See above #4
  6. Before Play. Human Papillomavirus, HPV, and Genital Warts. https://beforeplay.org/stds/human-papillomavirus-hpv-and-genital-warts/
  7. See above #7

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