Symptoms

STD symptoms vary, some are obvious, some are hardly noticeable, and some STDs show no symptoms at all. This means the only way you can be totally sure of your status is to get tested. Most STDs are treatable or manageable, but not without professional help.

If a partner tells you that you may have an STD, or if you have noticed any of the symptoms below, you should see a doctor immediately.

HIV/AIDS

Most people with HIV don’t feel sick right after becoming infected. However, some people may notice flu-like symptoms within a few weeks of infection.

Because symptoms may not appear for years after infection, you can't rely on them to know if you have HIV or not. The only sure way to know your HIV status is to get tested.

STDs

Bacterial Vaginosis

This is not an STD, but it is something that should be treated. It causes a smelly vaginal discharge that may resemble a “fishy” smell and may become stronger after sex. Some women may have a white or gray discharge. Many have no symptoms.

More information about bacterial vaginosis


Chlamydia

An estimated 50 to 70 percent of women and 30 percent of men with chlamydia have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

Women

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Itching or swelling of the vaginal area
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Stomach or abdominal pains
  • Slight fever

Men

  • Discharge or drip from the penis
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Itching and/or burning around the opening of the penis
  • Pain or swelling of the testicles

More information about chlamydia | Chlamydia Fact Sheet | Chlamydia Brochure


Gonorrhea

Most women and many men with gonorrhea have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include:

Women

  • Discharge (drip, pus) from the vagina or anus
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Pain in the lower belly, lower back pain
  • Anal/rectal pain and itching
  • Sore throat

Men

  • Discharge (drip, pus) from the penis or anus
  • Burning or pain when urinating (peeing)
  • Frequent urination
  • Anal/rectal pain and itching
  • Sore throat

More information about gonorrhea | Gonorrhea Fact Sheet | Gonorrhea Brochure


Hepatitis (Viral)

Many people (especially young children) have no symptoms after getting infected with viral hepatitis.

Persons with hepatitis A may suddenly become ill, experiencing jaundice, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light stools, and fever.

Hepatitis B, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E may cause mild flu-like symptoms, dark urine, light stools, jaundice, fatigue, and fever.

Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus do not have symptoms. If symptoms are present, they are generally mild flu-like symptoms, dark urine, light stools, jaundice, fatigue, and fever.


Herpes (Genital)

The first symptoms of genital herpes often appear within two weeks, but this can vary widely.

Symptoms may include:

  • Sores, bumps, blisters, or a rash in the genital area
  • Pain or itching around the genitals, buttocks, or legs
  • Itching or burning during urination
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
  • Fever, headache, or fatigue

This first “outbreak” of herpes will usually last 2-4 weeks, but this may vary. Some people have very painful symptoms during their first outbreak. Others may not notice symptoms at all. Many people have repeat outbreaks from time to time. The symptoms of repeat outbreaks are often milder than those of the first outbreak and tend to occur in the same place. Repeat outbreaks are hard to predict. However, they may be related to stress, diet, illness, menstruation, and sunburn.

More information about genital herpes | Genital Herpes Fact Sheet | Genital Herpes Brochure


Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common STD in the U.S. Most sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives. There are many different types of HPV.

HPV does not cause health problems for most people. However, certain types of genital HPV can cause cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar and throat cancers in women. HPV can also cause throat, anal and penile cancers in men.

Other types of HPV can cause genital warts – growths around the vagina, penis or anus. Vaccines are now available that can protect females and males against some of the most common types of HPV that can lead to genital warts or cancer.

More information about HPV | HPV Fact Sheet | HPV Brochure


MPC (Mucopurulent Cervicitis)

Females often have no symptoms — especially in early stages. They may experience painful urination and/or have an unusual vaginal discharge.


NGU (Nongonococcal Urethritis)

Males may have a discharge from the penis, burning when urinating, or burning or itching around the opening of the penis. These symptoms frequently appear in the morning. Some men have no symptoms, or have symptoms that are so mild they go unnoticed.

More information about NGU


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is often caused by a gonorrhea and/or chlamydia infection. It often causes one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Dull pain in the stomach/abdominal/pelvic area
  • Increased or foul-smelling discharge from the vagina
  • Irregular periods or bleeding between periods
  • Pain or bleeding during sex
  • Pain during urination
  • Back pain

It is extremely important to act quickly if you have one or more of the above symptoms. PID can cause chronic pelvic pain and damage to the fallopian tubes and other internal female organs.

More Information about PID | PID Fact Sheet | PID Brochure


Pubic Lice

Some people may not have any outward symptoms of pubic lice. Symptoms that may occur include:

  • Intense itching
  • Blue or gray spots, and insects or nits (eggs) in the pubic area
  • Pinhead-size blood spots on underwear

More information about pubic lice


Scabies

Early symptoms include small, raised, and itchy red bumps or blisters on the skin, often identified as burrows. Areas generally affected include

  • webs of the fingers
  • wrists
  • elbows
  • underarms
  • belt line
  • thighs
  • external genitalia
  • nipples
  • waist
  • lower part of the buttocks
  • shoulder blades

More information about scabies


Syphilis

Syphilis often begins as a sore, called a chancre (“shank-er”), where the germ has entered the body. This sore mostly occurs on or near the sex organs, but it can also occur around the mouth or anus. The sore does not hurt and it goes away without treatment after a few weeks, but you still have the disease.

Later, there may be other symptoms, such as:

  • Rashes on the palms of the hands and/or bottoms of the feet
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches, fever, and sore throat
  • Aches in the bones
  • Swollen joints

More information about syphilis | Syphilis Fact Sheet | Syphilis Brochure


Trichomoniasis

Many women who contract trichomoniasis will have symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Smelly, greenish-yellow discharge
  • Vaginal itching and soreness
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pain with urination
  • A foul, “fishy” odor

Most men will not experience any symptoms. A small number may have a slight itching inside the penis, painful urination, and/or a clear discharge.

More information about trichomoniasis


Vaginitis

Symptoms of vaginitis may vary or be absent. Symptoms that may occur include:

  • A slight grayish or yellow odorous vaginal discharge
  • Mild itching or burning sensation

Not all forms of vaginitis are sexually transmitted. It is still important to be tested so you can receive the appropriate treatment.

More information about vaginitis


Yeast (Thrush)

Typical symptoms include:

  • Vaginal itching/burning
  • Vaginal discharge

More information about yeast infections


last updated September 12, 2018