STD Symptoms Guide for Men & Women

80% of people infected with an STD do not experience symptoms. Those that do may take several months to develop from the time the infection occurs. The only way to know that you have an STD for sure is to test before each new partner and to practice safe sex in between. If you have an STD, it is damaging your body and can be passed to your partner whether you see symptoms or not.

Trichomoniasis is considered the most common curable STD. In the United States, an estimated 3.7 million people have the infection, but only about 30% develop symptoms. Infection is more common in women than in men, with older women more likely to be infected than younger women. Symptoms of Trichomoniasis include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Foul smelling vaginal odor
  • Itching or redness in the vaginal area
  • Discomfort and burning after urination
  • Itching inside the penis
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Discomfort during intercourse and burning after ejaculation

Learn more about Trich Symptoms

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the United States with over 1.7 million cases reported to the CDC in 2017 alone. It is most common among women under 25, but is usually asymptomatic. If left untreated, Chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and eventually lead to infertility.

Symptoms of Chlamydia include:

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • More frequent urination
  • In women, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse
  • In men, testicular pain, tenderness and swelling
  • Rectal pain, discharge and/or bleeding
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Painful sexual intercourse in women
  • Pain in the testicles in men

Learn more about Chlamydia Symptoms

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in the United States with over 500,000 cases reported to the CDC in 2017, most commonly among people ages 15-24. Gonorrhea typically shows no symptoms and can have serious long term consequences, especially for women.

Symptoms of Gonorrhea include:

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Burning feeling during urination
  • More frequent urination
  • In women, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, pain during sexual intercourse
  • In men, testicular pain, tenderness and swelling
  • Anal itching and rectal pain, discharge and/or bleeding
  • Sore throat and difficulty swallowing

Learn more about Gonorrhea Symptoms

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injection drug use.

Hepatitis C symptoms resemble the flu and can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore muscles
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea or poor appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine

Learn more about Hep C Symptoms

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that weakens the immune system over time and eventually leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. There is no cure for HIV but it can be controlled with proper medical care. Treatment for HIV is often called antiretroviral therapy or ART. It can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV and lower their chance of infecting others. Before the introduction of ART in the mid-1990s, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can have a nearly normal life expectancy.

HIV symptoms resemble the flu and can include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes (generally in the neck)
  • Rash
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Sore throat
  • Ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals
  • Night sweats
  • Diarrhea

Learn more about HIV Symptoms

Genital Herpes is the third most common STI and is caused by the HSV-2 virus. Herpes is transmitted through sexual and body to body contact. There is no cure for Herpes but symptomatic outbreaks can be managed with proper treatment.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes include:

  • Discomfort similar to a yeast, bacterial or bladder infection
  • Sores in or around the vagina, vulva or urethra
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Sores on or around the penis
  • Swelling or discomfort in the groin nodes

Learn more about Genital Herpes Symptoms

HPV is the most common STD in the United States with almost half of the population between the ages 18 and 59 infected. High risk strains of HPV are known to cause cervical cancer in women over 30, but will have no symptoms. Infections in women under 30 and all men are usually resolved by the immune system within two years.

Symptoms of low-risk HPV include:

  • Genital warts

Learn more about HPV Symptoms

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through open sores. It is becoming more common in men and less common in women. Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics but any damage done before treatment cannot be undone. An untreated Syphilis infection will pass through four stages, including an asymptomatic or latent third stage.

Primary and secondary stage Syphilis symptoms include:

  • Firm, painless sores
  • Skin rash
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Sore throat
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

Tertiary stage Syphilis symptoms include:

  • Loss of muscle control and coordination
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Dementia
  • Widespread damage to the heart, liver, bones, and joints (can be fatal)

Learn more about Syphilis Symptoms

Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a slow-moving bacteria that is most often either asymptomatic or misdiagnosed as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. It lives inside the cells of the infected area and is spread through anal and vaginal intercourse. Untreated MG can cause epididymitis in men and pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

Symptoms of MG include:

  • Urethritis
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Bleeding during menstruation
  • Lower abdominal pain

Learn more about Mycoplasma Genitalium Symptoms

References

  1. Swygard H, Seña AC, Hobbs MM, et al. Trichomoniasis: clinical manifestations, diagnosis and management. Sexually Transmitted Infections. 2004.
  2. Wølner-Hanssen, MD P, Krieger JN, Stevens CE, et al. Clinical Manifestations of Vaginal Trichomoniasis. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1989.
  3. Shafer MA, Beck A, Blaine B, et al. Chlamydia trachomatis: Important relationships to race, contraception, lower genital tract infection, and Papanicolaou smear. Journal of Pediatrics. 1984.
  4. Workowski K. Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2013.
  5. Hoofnagle JH. Hepatitis C: The clinical spectrum of disease. AASLD. 2003.
  6. Hoenigl M, Green N, Camacho M. Signs or Symptoms of Acute HIV Infection in a Cohort Undergoing Community-Based Screening. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2016.
  7. The Antiretroviral Therapy Cohort Collaboration. Survival of HIV-positive patients starting antiretroviral therapy between 1996 and 2013: a collaborative analysis of cohort studies. The Lancet.  1996.