If you are in the 20% of men with STDs experiencing symptoms, knowing what to look out for can help you catch, diagnose and treat STDs early!
The worrisome side of sexually transmitted diseases is that many people don’t know they are infected because they never experience symptoms. 80% of people who have an STD don’t show any symptoms, which means that they are unlikely to test and end up spreading the infection to others. If you are sexually active, you need to be tested regularly, regardless of your gender, age or sexual orientation.
Most Common STD Symptoms in Men
1. Discomfort or burning sensation after urination
2. Discharge from the penis
4. Testicular pain, tenderness and inflammation
5. Itching inside the penis
This symptom is common to trichomoniasis, jock itch, as well as yeast infections in men.
6. Anal discharge, bleeding, pain or itching
7. Discomfort during intercourse or a burning sensation when ejaculating
If you’re experiencing some unpleasantness when doing the deed (or as you’re crossing the finish line), this could indicate an infection.
8. Sore throat
This one surprises many people and is often dismissed as a cold or flu symptom. Don’t just buy some lozenges and shrug off that sore throat if you’re experiencing this symptom within days of going down on your partner.
9. Fatigue, sore muscles and joints, fever, swollen lymph nodes
This sounds like the aches and pains that come with the flu, but these are also signs of Hepatitis C or HIV.
10. Blisters, warts, sores around the penis, groin and rectum
Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence
It’s important to remember that sometimes the early signs of an STD in men can be very mild. You may not experience any symptoms at all. It’s important to know what to look for, as well as the incubation and testing time frames for the most common STDs. If you’re sexually active, with or without symptoms, it’s time to get tested.
Signs That Men Should Get Tested For HIV
It’s the early stages (acute HIV) that most men experience flu-like symptoms a few weeks after they are infected. Below are examples of some of the symptoms men may initially experience. If you think you may be infected, take an HIV test right away.
There are typically three stages in the virus’s progression in the body. These stages include:
- Acute illness. For 80% of infected people, the first symptoms usually occur within two-to-four weeks. Those symptoms often resemble a typical case of the flu, including fever, sore throat, severe headaches, fatigue and nausea. This stage does not occur in all infected people.
- Asymptomatic period. As the name suggests, this is a period during which the infection does not show any symptoms. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the virus is dormant. In fact, it is replicating inside your body at this point, and is still causing damage to your immune system. This period can last ten years or more.
- Advanced infection. During this period, a carrier’s immune system is severely weakened, making their bodies susceptible to illness. At this stage, even everyday health concerns like a cold can become life threatening. This is because the body doesn’t have the resources it needs to combat them.
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Who is In More Danger? Men or Women?
That’s sort of an unfair question. Most sexually transmitted infections and diseases can affect men and women differently. Men tend to suffer from fewer complications than women. For example, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can cause significant consequences related to pregnancy. Women must take extra precautions to avoid passing infections to their children. That doesn’t mean that men are completely off the hook though! STIs are nondiscriminatory. They affect both men and women, and everyone should get tested regardless of gender assignment.
STIs are an ever-present problem in the United States. Sexually transmitted disease and infection rates are on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis have all shown substantial increases since 2014. HIV is on the rise as well!
- Discomfort after urination is a symptom of urethritis (inflammation in the tube that carries urine out of the bladder). Mycoplasma genitalium is a common cause of urethritis. In one study of men who had urethritis (but didn’t have gonorrhea), 23% of the men had Mycoplasma genitalium. See: Horner PJ, Gilroy CB, Thomas BJ, et al. Association of Mycoplasma genitalium with acute non-gonococcal urethritis. The Lancet. 1993.
- Study found that in both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections, 90% of the patients had signs of urethritis (inflammation in the tube that carries urine out of the bladder). See: Falk L, Fredlund H, Jensen JS. Symptomatic urethritis is more prevalent in men infected with Mycoplasma genitalium than with Chlamydia trachomatis. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2004.
- 90% of men with Gonorrhea and 75% of men with Chlamydia showed signs of urethritis (inflammation of the tube that carries urine out of the bladder). See: Walter E. Stamm, M.D.; Laura A. Koutsky, M.S.P.H.; Jacqueline K. Benedetti, Ph.D; et al. Chlamydia trachomatis Urethral Infections in Men: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Clinical Manifestations. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1984.
- Men with trichomoniasis alone were more likely to complain of penile discharge and to have discharge on examination. See: Krieger JN, Jenny C, Verdon M, Siegel N, Springwater R, Critchlow CW, et al. Clinical Manifestations of Trichomoniasis in Men. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1993.
- Breakdown of the various STDs associated with penile discharge by percentage. See: Janier M, Lassau F, Casin I, et al. Male urethritis with and without discharge: a clinical and microbiological study. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 1995.
- Study results suggest that Chlamydia is the major cause of idiopathic epididymitis (inflammation of the tube at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm). See: Richard E. Berger, M.D., E. Russell Alexander, M.D., George D. Monda, M.D., et al. Chlamydia trachomatis as a Cause of Acute Idiopathic Epididymitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 1978.
- Observations show that proctitis (severe inflammation of the lining of the rectum) is associated with Chlamydia in the rectum. See: Thomas C. Quinn, M.D., Steven E. Goodell, M.D., Emmanuel Mkrtichian, P.A.-C, et al. Chlamydia trachomatis Proctitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 1981.
- Study analyzes the likelihood that rectal pain, cramping and discharge are associated with Herpes Simplex Virus-2. See: Steven E. Goodell, M.D., Thomas C. Quinn, M.D., Emmanuel Mkrtichian, P.A.-C, et al. Herpes Simplex Virus Proctitis in Homosexual Men — Clinical, Sigmoidoscopic, and Histopathological Features. New England Journal of Medicine. 1983.
- Sore throat and redness or swelling of the tonsils are typical symptoms of pharyngeal Gonorrhea. See: A Bro-Jorgensen, T Jensen. Gonococcal pharyngeal infections. Report of 110 cases. British Journal of Venereal Diseases. 1973.
- Symptoms of acute Hepatitis C include nausea, anorexia, abdominal pain, malaise, fever, and jaundice. See: Chia C. Wang, Elizabeth Krantz, Jared Klarquist, et al. Acute Hepatitis C in a Contemporary US Cohort: Modes of Acquisition and Factors Influencing Viral Clearance. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2007.
- Study found that 37% of new Herpes Simplex Virus-2 infections showed symptoms, including genital lesions. See: Andria G.M. Langenberg, M.D., Lawrence Corey, M.D., Rhoda L. Ashley, Ph.D., et al. A Prospective Study of New Infections with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2. New England Journal of Medicine. 1999.
- Study found that 45% of participants who tested positive for genital herpes had genital sores or blisters. See: Cowan F. M., Johnson A. M., Ashley R., Corey L., Mindel A.; Antibody to Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 as Serological Marker of Sexual Lifestyle in Populations. British Medical Journal. 1994.
- Study found that 47% of patients with syphilis and a history of syphilis had multiple genital ulcers. 32% of patients with syphilis and no prior history of syphilis had multiple genital ulcers. See: Rompalo, Anne M. MD, ScM; Joesoef, M. Riduan MD, PhD; O’Donnell, Judith a. MD; et al. Clinical Manifestations of Early Syphilis by HIV Status and Gender: Results of the Syphilis and HIV Study. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. March 2001.
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