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What are the Common Signs of an STD?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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The common signs of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) are symptoms similar to a urinary tract infection, flu-like symptoms, and warts or sores. These symptoms can mimic minor infections or viruses, and thus not seem necessary to treat as soon as possible. Additionally, several sexually transmitted diseases are commonly found to be asymptomatic, meaning they have no obvious symptoms at all. In this case, the infected person might not learn about his or her condition until getting a full check-up at a doctor’s office, or being warned by a sexual partner who experienced symptoms and discovered the STD.

Pain while urinating or having sex, frequent and urgent urination, and fatigue are common signs of a urinary tract infection, but they are also signs of various STDs. For example, painful urination and pain during sex are symptoms of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. While fatigue is sometimes a sign of a urinary tract infection, it is also observed in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and any type of hepatitis. These signs of an STD can be subtle, but should not be ignored, even if they are only a minor irritation.

Signs of an STD can include flu-like symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, fever, and a sore throat. Nausea and vomiting is a sign of hepatitis, while a fever that comes and goes can be the fault of HIV, hepatitis, or syphilis. A sore throat may also be an indication of HIV. These symptoms may be mistaken for the influenza virus or the common cold, but they are typically more serious and require treatment as soon as possible.

Unexplained warts and sores are generally considered signs of an STD, especially when they appear on the genitals, thighs, or buttocks. Human papillomavirus (HPV), which is an especially common STD, can be a cause of genital warts. In addition, genital herpes is caused by a different virus known as the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus produces bumps on and around the genitals, which eventually erupt into open sores. There is no cure for either HPV or HSV, but both viruses can sometimes stop producing sores and warts, basically going dormant in the infected person.

It is not unusual for a person to have absolutely no signs of an STD, though the STD is likely still transmittable to sexual partners. Subtle or virtually undetectable STDs are one reason why doctors generally recommend sexually active people to get tested regularly. Not only can this possibly slow or eliminate damage to the infected person’s body, but it may help avoid spreading the infection by knowing to be more cautious with future partners.

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Discussion Comments
By Reminiscence — On Aug 20, 2014

I'm embarrassed to tell this story, but it might help other people. When I was in my 20s, I was pretty promiscuous. I had a few anonymous encounters with women I met in bars. I'm not especially proud of that now, but I was that kind of person back then. Anyway, I noticed I had some signs of an STD a few weeks after one of those encounters.

As the article says, the signs of an STD can be easily mistaken for other medical conditions. I thought I had injured my genitals somehow, and the rash and itching were part of the damage, like healing from a bad scratch. I noticed other STD symptoms a few days later, like a discharge and painful urination. Again, I thought it might be a urinary tract infection.

I finally saw a doctor and he immediately gave me a shot of penicillin. He said I picked up a case of what we used to call "the clap", probably from a recent sexual partner. I changed my ways after that experience.

By RocketLanch8 — On Aug 20, 2014

This isn't a pleasant story to tell, but I knew someone in college who had signs of genital herpes on the corners of her mouth. She thought it was a standard cold sore form of herpes simplex, but the doctor told her that it was the kind usually found on the genitals of infected people. It didn't take long for other people in our co-ed dorm to figure out how she contracted that STD.

I still felt sorry for her, because her male partner failed to disclose his own STD status. He allowed her to come in contact with his genitals at a time when the virus was clearly active and contagious.

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