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Common Signs of STI: How to Tell if You Have an STD
Updated on November 8, 2022
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Common Signs of STI: How to Tell if You Have an STD
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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are transmitted through sexual activity. All forms of sexual contact can expose you to them.

These include anal sex, oral sex, and vaginal intercourse. 

Teenagers and young adults are most affected by STIs. However, anyone who is sexually active is at risk. 

Risky sexual behavior increases your chances of becoming infected. Some examples are engaging with many sex partners and having unprotected sex.

Sexual contact may be the primary means of transmitting an STI, but it’s not the only way. Any activity that causes you to share bodily fluids (such as blood, semen, or vaginal fluid) may also result in infection. 

Other non-sexual causes of STDs are: 

  • Sharing infected drug needles
  • Transfusing infected blood
  • Sharing infected razors
  • Giving birth to a baby while infected

What are the Most Common STDs?

Each year, about 20 million Americans get an STI. This means that about 20% of U.S. residents are infected. Young people aged between 15 and 24 years make up about half of that number.1,2

Unfortunately, many people with STIs have no clue because they don’t show any signs. A person with undiagnosed STIs can develop life-threatening complications. They can also transmit the infection to their sex partners. 

The most common STDs include:3

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Syphilis
  • Genital herpes
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Chlamydia

Each STI has a different cause. So even when there are signs and symptoms, they all don’t look the same. The type of STD will determine the symptoms you get. 

Despite these differences, there are common STI signs that you can watch out for. It’s important to report them to your healthcare providers and get tested. 

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How Soon Do STD Symptoms Appear?

Some STIs alert you of their presence almost immediately with a set of symptoms that are hard to ignore. However, that’s not always the case. 

It’s not unusual to get generalized symptoms after the initial infection. For instance, HIV can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, night sweats, muscle aches, and fatigue.4 Because of this, most people don’t realize they have an STD.

In certain cases, STD symptoms can take anywhere between several weeks to a few years to develop.5 On the other hand, Some STIs may not present symptoms at all. That means a person can unknowingly infect their sexual partner.

Signs of STD in Men

Undiagnosed STI cases aren’t uncommon among men. Even when STI signs appear, most men have no idea what they mean and mistake them for a urinary tract infection (UTI). 

The chances of diagnosis get slimmer when the STIs cause no symptoms. Nevertheless, a man should know what common STD signs look like, so that they can seek medical attention. 

Here are some common STI symptoms that men should look out for:

  • Painful urination
  • Bumps, warts, rashes, and blisters on or around the penis
  • Abnormal discharges from the penis 
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful penis or testicles
  • Dark urine color
  • Itching and burning in the penis 

Signs of STD in Women

STI symptoms in women may appear as abnormalities in their genital area. While these signs may be caused by another disease, they’re still important to note. 

They will tell a woman that something’s wrong. The sooner she can seek medical care, the less likely she’ll infect her sexual partners. 

Common STD symptoms women should look out for include:

  • Painful urination 
  • Vaginal pain during sex
  • Unusual vaginal discharges 
  • Vaginal itching 
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding 
  • Genital warts, sores, blisters, or rashes
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Frequent urination 
  • Dark-colored urine 

Can You Have an STD with No Symptoms?

Yes. An infected person may show no symptoms. That's why you should get tested regularly and follow the best practices to prevent STIs.

Here are some STDs that may show delayed symptoms or no symptoms at all:7

  • HPV infection can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. However, some strains don’t cause any symptoms at all and you may have no idea. 
  • Chlamydia may cause symptoms similar to a yeast infection, such as unusual discharge and a burning sensation during urination. Nevertheless, some people get no signs. 
  • Gonorrhea symptoms may be mild and include pain, burning, and discharge. However, not everyone with gonorrhea gets these symptoms. 
  • Genital herpes may be from Herpes simplex virus type 2 or type1. Not every infected person gets the classic blisters or any other sign. But they can still infect others. 
  • Trichomoniasis affects 3.7 million people yet only 30% of that population shows any symptoms. Many people won’t get itching, soreness, or painful urination.8  

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STD Testing at Home — Why You Need It

The thought of having a sexually transmitted disease can be embarrassing. Many people would rather try home treatments for STD than seek medical help. 

While home remedies can relieve symptoms of STDs, they cannot treat the infection or stop them from spreading. Early testing is your best option because it can:

  • Prevent the STI from worsening
  • Help you avoid health complications
  • Protect your sexual partners from infection

If you’re too ashamed to see a doctor, you can buy a LetsGetChecked At-Home STD Kit. They offer several kits that allow you to test for STDs at home.

People who test positive can request a virtual medical consultation. It only costs $39 and you get to talk about your treatment options with a medical professional.

After evaluating your symptoms, they can provide prescriptions for recommended treatments. If you're willing to pay extra, they can send your medications.

At-home STD testing kits offers a private and convenient way to find out if you have a sexually transmitted infection. The best STD home testing kits can provide medications to those who test positive for common infections.

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Resources

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  1. [1] “Adolescents and Young Adults | Prevention | STDs |” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. [2] “STI Prevalence, Incidence, and Cost Estimates Infographic.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. [3] “Sexually Transmitted Infections.” StatPearls.
  4. [4] “HIV/AIDS. HIV | HIV Symptoms | AIDS “ MedlinePlus.
  5. [5] “How soon do STI symptoms appear?” National Health Service.
  6. [6] “Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Symptoms, Treatments & Causes.” Cleveland Clinic.
  7. [7] “STIs you can have with no symptoms.” Ohio State Medical Center.
  8. [8] “Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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