They can be contracted through any sexual contact including oral, vaginal, and anal sex, and not only are they very common, but they’re also on the rise. In fact, nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The best way to know about STDs is to go to the doctor and get a full STD panel. All STDs are treatable and most are curable and while HIV, herpes, and HPV cannot be cured the great treatments to manage them so that the life can regular.
ICYMI, the graphic photo features a metallic, blue-tinted vagina that looks, for lack of a better word, infected. While the image turned out to be the result of some apt photo shop skills, many folks mistakenly think all the signs of STDs in women are that obvious. The most common symptom of a sexually transmitted infection is no symptoms at all. Interestingly enough, in the medical community, infections are only called diseases when they cause symptoms. Even without symptoms, letting an STI go undiagnosed and untreated can result in some serious consequences.
The Most Common Symptoms and Signs of STDs
Even though ‘no symptoms’ is the most common sign of STDs in women and men, sometimes there are more obvious symptoms. Some of them might be surprise.
1. You’re leaking funky discharge.
If the discharge is fishy, stinky or funky, to consult with healthcare provider is a must. It could be a sign of trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia but once diagnosed, all three can be easily treated with antibiotics.
2. Peeing is painful.
When it burns/stings/hurts, painful urination is usually caused by a urinary tract infection, and not an STD. That’s one of a few reasons that shouldn’t self-diagnose a UTI. The plan of action is to get the cute butt over to the doc, and have them run an STD panel and test for a UTI.
3. You spy bumps, spots, or lesions.
Sometimes herpes, HPV, and syphilis can cause visible bumps/spots/lesions to appear on and around goods. During a herpes outbreak, typically painful vesicles or blister-like sores will appear in the affected regions. But if someone is infected by a strain of HPV that causes genital warts, it’ll look more like white-ish bumps. Syphilis can also create sores which are medically known as “chancres”. A chancre is the site where the syphilis infection enters the body and is an open, round sore that is usually somewhat firm. Unlike herpes or genital warts, these are typically pretty painless, but they are still very contagious.
4. Sex is more “ouch” than “oh yeah.”
Sex isn’t supposed to be painful. There are many potential reasons sex might be painful and, yep, a lingering STD is one of them. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, herpes, and genital warts can sometimes result in painful sex or painful penetration.
5. Your bits are itchy.
Trichomoniasis, a common STD caused by a parasite, may cause itching near the genitals. Having an itchy hoo-ha is pretty damn uncomfy, so get it checked out.
6. Your lymph nodes are swollen.
They’re located around the pubic mound and if they feel swollen might have an STI or other vaginal infection. Lymph nodes drain the genital area and become enlarged if there are any signs of infection. This includes bacterial vaginosis, UTIs, and yeast infections too.
7. You feel like you have the flu.
Fever and other flu-like symptoms are classic for an initial outbreak of herpes and chlamydia. A flu-like fatigue can accompany other STDs, including gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis B as well. Because advanced stages of HIV can make immune compromised (which affects multiple organ systems), and hepatitis B can affect the liver (and lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer), getting tested for STDs when it feel like the flu is occurred.
When to Get Tested
It’s important to get tested by healthcare provider immediately as that’s the only way to actually know whether or not positive for an STD, and can get treated and/or manage the symptoms. The benefit of going to a doctor is that if the symptoms aren’t caused by an STD, they can investigate what else they may be caused by. Regardless of whether not there are symptoms, the test after every new sex partner and/or every sixth months is must.
What If I Have an STI?
So a test came back positive it will help to come up with a game plan. Likely, this will include treatment, a conversation with partner(s) so they know to get tested/treated too, and pressing pause on hookups until the infection is gone or any doctor gives the green light. Unfortunately, STDs carry a lot of shame and stigma around them. The reality is, they’re just like any other infection you could catch from someone else. And just like the flu, there are ways to minimize the risk of picking up the/an infection, but there is no shame in getting one.