Recognizing common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) for women can lead to earlier detection, better treatment and, in some cases, the prevention of further complications. STD signs and symptoms vary from person to person and are based on the disease. Many women are asymptomatic. Common STD symptoms for women include pain while urinating or during intercourse; abnormal vaginal discharge; itching, sores or bumps in the genital region; and spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is spread through sexual intercourse. It is curable with antibiotics. Symptoms for women who have chlamydia include pain while urinating, abnormal vaginal discharge, stomach or abdominal pain and painful intercourse. Bleeding, pain and discharge from the rectum are also possible if a woman with chlamydia is attempting to engage in anal intercourse.
Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection that is curable with antibiotics. STD symptoms for women who have gonorrhea include spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods, pain or a burning sensation during urination and an increased vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge might be thick, cloudy or bloody in appearance and texture. Women who have gonorrhea might experience pain during intercourse.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is incurable, with periodic episodes of symptoms occurring over a period of decades. Symptoms for women who are experiencing an outbreak of genital herpes include pain, severe itching and the appearance of small red bumps. These bumps eventually rupture and become bloody, oozing open sores. Pain, tenderness, inflammation and flu-like symptoms are common indicators of the onset of a genital herpes outbreak.
Human pappillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that causes genital warts. STD symptoms for women who are experiencing genital warts include gray or flesh-colored bumps on the genital area, cauliflower shaped clusters of warts, itching, pain, tingling and bleeding during intercourse. HPV is an incurable disease.
Syphilis is a bacterial STD that is curable in its early stages with antibiotics. Women who have syphilis often get a single sore and enlarged lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, women can experience a rash marked with small red sores throughout the body, fever, fatigue and muscle aches. These symptoms can come and go. If left untreated, syphilis can cause permanent neurological and cardiovascular problems.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an incurable viral STD. If left untreated, it can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a life-threatening disease. Symptoms of HIV are flu-like and include fever, headache, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and a rash. As the virus persists, diarrhea, weight loss and a productive cough or shortness of breath might be present. Later stage HIV/AIDS sufferers can experience chills, fever and night sweats.
Any woman who suspects that she has contracted an STD or is showing any of the STD symptoms for women should speak to her doctor or another licensed healthcare professional about undergoing STD testing. It is advisable for both partners to seek STD testing before engaging in sexual activities if one partner has contracted an STD and has recently undergone treatment. It is possible for someone who is asymptomatic to spread an STD to others.