STDs

STD Symptoms and Frequently Asked Questions

STD Symptoms

Sexually transmitted diseases have a diverse list of causes. As such, STDs also have a very varied set of symptoms. This is only further complicated by the fact that so many of the diseases start out having no symptoms at all. That's why STDs are often spoken of as a hidden epidemic. Some of the most serious infections show no signs until they've caused significant damage.

Before reviewing the signs and symptoms of some common STDs, it's important to remember that the only person who can diagnose you with an STD is a health care professional.

If you think you may have an STD, it is important to go see a doctor. That's true whether you currently have STD symptoms or not. It's also a good idea to get checked out if you know you are at risk of having an STD.

If you don't have symptoms, it doesn't mean you don't have an STD. However, there are some symptoms which are most often associated with STD infections. These symptoms can be caused by other conditions.

Still, if you have them, you may want to get tested. 

Common STD Symptoms

Warning: Photos Contained in Links Below May Offend Some Viewers

Note: The first time a disease is listed, the name is linked to an overview of that disease. The "Symptoms FAQ" next to the name is a list of all symptoms associated with that disease. 

    STD-associated itching is usually around the genitals. The area around the butt may also itch because of an STD. STDs that cause itching include:

    • Chlamydia 
    • Trichomoniasis 
    • Bacterial Vaginosis 
    • Pubic Lice -  Symptoms FAQ
    • Scabies -  Symptoms FAQ
    • Herpes -  Symptoms FAQ
    • Lymphogranuloma Venereum 
    • Molluscum Contagiosum - Symptoms FAQ
    • Mycoplasma Genitalium - Symptoms FAQ
    • Painful Intercourse

      Pain during sex may be a sign of an STD. It may also be a sign of certain non-infectious conditions. New or unusual pain during sex should always be discussed with a doctor. STDs with the symptom of causing pain during sex include:
    • Painful Urination

      If it hurts when you pee, you may have an infection. Sometimes it's a urinary tract infection. Other times, it's an STD, such as:
      • Chlamydia
      • Gonorrhea 
      • Non-Gonococcal Urethritis 
      • Trichomoniasis 
      • Bacterial Vaginosis 
      • Mycoplasma Genitalium 
      • Chancroid 
      • Herpes 
    • Lumps, Bumps, Sores, & Ulcers 

      If you see any changes to your genitals, it's a good idea to get them checked out. Not all lumps and sores are infectious, but many are. Some STDs that cause genital ulcers and other bumps or sores are:
    • Rashes

      Rashes are a relatively uncommon STD symptom. They can, however, be caused by:
    • Odor

      Changing vaginal odor is often a sign that you may have acquired a vaginal infection. Some infections that cause the vagina to smell unpleasant are:
      • Trichomoniasis
      • Bacterial Vaginosis 
    • Warts:

    • Pain (vaginal, anal, lower abdominal, throat)

      As with other infections, some STDs can be painful. Where they hurt, depends on the site that has been infected. STDs that are sometimes associated with skin or other pain include:
      • Chlamydia 
      • Gonorrhea 
      • Trichomoniasis 
      • Chancroid
      • Herpes
      • Lymphogranuloma Venereum 
      • Mycoplasma Genitalium
    • Visible Infestation/Parasites:

      • Pubic Lice 
      • Scabies
    • No Symptoms/Other Symptoms

      Don't forget. The vast majority of STDs have no symptoms at all. The only way to be certain if you have an STD is to get tested. Assuming that because you have no symptoms you have no STDs is a bad idea. STDs that are commonly asymptomatic include:

      A Word From Verywell

      While you may know the importance of getting tested, you may not feel comfortable talking to your doctor. It's true that some doctors refuse to test for STDs. However, this is not the case with all doctors; talk to your own. Otherwise, you might just need to do a little self-advocating to get your needs met around testing and sexual health. If, for one reason or another, you don't feel comfortable doing that with your PCP, STD clinics are also always a good option. 

      Sources:

      Hazel A, Marino S, Simon C. An anthropologically based model of the impact of  asymptomatic cases on the spread of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. J R Soc Interface. 2015 May 6;12(106). pii: 20150067. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2015.0067.

      Satterwhite CL, Torrone E, Meites E, Dunne EF, Mahajan R, Ocfemia MC, Su J, Xu F, Weinstock H. Sexually transmitted infections among US women and men: prevalence and incidence estimates, 2008. Sex Transm Dis. 2013 Mar;40(3):187-93.  doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e318286bb53.

      Workowski KA, Bolan GA; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Sexually Transmitted Disease Treatment Guidelines, 2015.. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2015 Jun 5;64(RR-03):1-137

      More from Verywell in Symptoms

      Learn more about STDs