Home -> FAQ -> Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) -> Why can it be hard to notice if I have an STD?

Why can it be hard to notice if I have an STD?

Answer

Most people with STDs have no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are often hard to recognize because they can be confused with non-sexual diseases. This is especially true for women. This is why it is good to have routine check-ups if you are sexually active, especially if you have had multiple sexual partners (even if you used a condom every time).

However, there are some symptoms to look for if you think you might have an STD.

In women, the most common symptoms of an STD are:

  • unusual or bad-smelling vaginal discharge,
  • severe itching or burning in the genital area,
  • unusual bleeding,
  • pelvic pain,
  • pain during sex,
  • rashes on the genitals,
  • open sores or warts on the genital area, and/or
  • recurrent urinary tract infections.

In men, the most common symptoms of an STD are:

  • pain when urinating,
  • open sores or warts on the genital area,
  • rashes on the genitals,
  • discharge from the penis, and/or
  • pain in the scrotum/testicles.

However, in both men and women, STDs can cause symptoms in other parts of the body besides the genitals and bladder, including:

  • discharge from the anus,
  • swelling of the groin,
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes),
  • arthritis,
  • oral thrush (white tongue),
  • sores or bumps in and around the mouth, and
  • generalized rashes.

In general, if you:

  • notice any sores or warts on or near your genitals,
  • have a rash in your genital area,
  • have severe itching of your genitals, or
  • notice unusual or bad-smelling discharge from your penis or vagina,

Go to a clinic or the hospital for treatment. Early treatment increases your chances of being cured, if a cure is possible. If a cure is not possible, early treatment improves your ability to prevent negative consequences of infection, including infection with other STDs.

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