Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for an STD. Of course, if you only have one partner, who you know is only having sex with you, the risk goes down. You will also decrease the risk if you use a condom or a dental dam. Unfortunately, it can take weeks, or even months, after being exposed to an STD for symptoms to appear. You could have infected many other people if you did not use protection. It is important that you are tested at the first sign of any symptoms. It is better to be tested with a negative result than to carry and spread the disease because you felt the symptoms were insignificant.
The Common STD Symptoms
The six most prevalent STDs include:
HIV and syphilis can be life-threatening. The only chance you have of surviving is receiving treatment as soon as possible. However, you need to be aware of the symptoms of all the STDs so you can be treated to avoid increased damage to your body and to keep from passing it around.
While you may not experience any symptoms of syphilis for up to three months after exposure, the most common, initial sign you have been infected is the appearance of crusty, painless sores on your genitals, mouth, or rectum. These sores may suddenly go away to come back again, giving you the false impression it was nothing to worry about. Because these sores may be hidden inside the vagina, and do not cause pain, women often do not realize they have the disease until it progresses to a second stage. In this stage, you will experience swollen lymph nodes and achy joints in addition to sores.
Gonorrhea usually shows symptoms within 10 days of exposure and infection. The common symptoms include painful urination and bowel movements, anal itching, and a thick discharge from the vagina or penis. In addition, men will experience swollen, painful testicles and women may have abnormal menstrual periods.
The symptoms of chlamydia are often very mild and therefore go unnoticed. If you have had unprotected sex within the last three weeks and experience the following symptoms, however mild, you need to be tested.
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- An unusual discharge from the penis or vagina
- Painful intercourse for women
Some of these symptoms are similar to those of other STDs so ask the doctor to run tests for all the common ones while you are there.
It is a sad fact that once you are infected with genital herpes you will always have the virus. There will be times when you exhibit the symptoms of the disease, and times when no symptoms are present. The main indication that you are infected is small sores, often called cold sores when they appear on your mouth, that spread over your genitals, anus, rectum, thighs, and buttocks. Sometimes, you will experience symptoms similar to the flu and have head or backaches as well.
While the main concern about HPV revolves around women, because this virus causes cervical cancer, men do have and carry the disease too. The main symptom to look for regarding HPV is genital warts. The appearance of warts could mean nothing, but you should be tested for the virus and cancer if you have them. HPV increases the odds of a man getting cancer in the penis and rectum. The medical community needs to make this information as common as the fact it causes cervical cancer in women so men will be tested and treated in a timely fashion.
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Dr. Gafanovich is performing STD testing as a part of her annual check up .
If you have been exposed to HIV, you may not present any symptoms for years. The initial symptoms are often mistaken for common diseases, such as a sore throat, the flu, or skin rashes. Any time you have these symptoms when you know you are at risk for STDs, you need to ask for a test when visiting the doctor for treatment. Early treatment will keep you healthy and better able to keep the virus from becoming AIDS.