When most people think of signs and symptoms of STDs, they tend to imagine excruciating genital pain and side effects severe enough to render an otherwise healthy individual bedridden. In reality, signs and symptoms of STDs are not always as disruptive as some might think. Learning to recognize the most common signs and symptoms of STDs can help those at risk for infection protect themselves or seek treatment as necessary.
Genital discharge is one of the most frequent signs and symptoms of STDs among men and women. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the country's most dominant infections, can produce discharge that is thick, uncomfortable, and white or yellow in color. While some women may mistake vaginal discharge as symptomatic of bacterial or vaginal yeast infection, men experiencing penile discharge are more likely to recognize it as one of the signs and symptoms of STDs. Regardless of gender, abnormal vaginal or penile discharge is a cause for concern.
A burning sensation during urination is another one of the most common signs and symptoms of STDs, specifically gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Though painful urination could point to an infection of the urinary tract, when accompanied by signs and symptoms of STDs like genital discharge and discomfort during intercourse, it is usually a sign of sexually transmitted infection.
Penile or Vaginal Sores
The presence of genital sores can point to several prevalent STDs, including genital herpes, HPV, and syphilis. Small, painless penile or vaginal sores are often associated with syphilis in particular, while herpes sores are more likely to blister and cause discomfort. However, herpes outbreaks can vary in severity and length. Anyone experiencing penile or vaginal sores should seek STD testing.
Herpes on the Lips
Though most people know that genital sores and blisters are among the most notable signs and symptoms of STDs, the presence of herpes on the lips should also alert those affected of the possibility of infection. Many don't realize that herpes on lips, or oral herpes, is a sexually transmitted disease that can be transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. What this means is that when lip sores come into contact with another person's genitals, generally during oral sex, the recipient is at risk of contracting herpes disease in its genital form. While it's possible to transmit herpes even when no sores are present, those with herpes on lips should avoid sexual contact until their symptoms have cleared up.
Symptom free does not mean STD free
Many assume that signs and symptoms of STDs are a given when infected. With widespread diseases like Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV, the majority of those infected will never experience noticeable side effects. Even when signs and symptoms of STDs do surface, they can be mild or mistaken for other conditions causing those at risk to avoid STD testing. For this reason, the CDC recommends annual STD screenings for the country's most common infections, including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and herpes. Men who have sex with men are also advised to undergo yearly testing for syphilis.
Relying on a lack of signs and symptoms of STDs is never a good approach to preserving sexual health. Even in the absence of signs and symptoms of STDs, infection can still be transmitted. The only way to avoid STDs is to use protection during all forms of sexual activity and undergo testing as per the CDC's recommendations.
Common misspellings for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis include: gonorrhoea, gonorrhoeao, ganaria, gonnorhea, gonorrhea, klamydia, clamidia, chlamidia, klamidia, sifilis, syphillis, siphilis.