STI symptoms aren’t always obvious. If you think you have STI symptoms or have been exposed to an STI, see a doctor. Some STIs are easy to treat and cure; others require more-complicated treatment to manage them.
It’s essential to be evaluated, and — if diagnosed with an STI — get treated. It’s also essential to inform your partner or partners so that they can be evaluated and treated.
If untreated, STIs can increase your risk of acquiring another STI such as HIV. This happens because an STI can stimulate an immune response in the genital area or cause sores, either of which might raise the risk of HIV transmission. Some untreated STIs can also lead to infertility.
STIs often asymptomatic
STIs often have no signs or symptoms (asymptomatic). Even with no symptoms, however, you can pass the infection to your sex partners. So it’s important to use protection, such as a condom, during sex. And visit your doctor regularly for STI screening, so you can identify and treat an infection before you can pass it on.
Some of the following diseases, such as hepatitis, can be transmitted without sexual contact, by coming into contact with an infected person’s blood. Others, such as gonorrhea, can only be transmitted through sexual contact.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of your genital tract. Chlamydia may be difficult to detect because early-stage infections often cause few or no signs and symptoms. When they do occur, they usually start one to three weeks after you’ve been exposed to chlamydia. Even when signs and symptoms occur, they’re often mild and passing, making them easy to overlook.
Signs and symptoms may include:
Lower abdominal pain
Vaginal discharge in women
Discharge from the joystick in men
Pain during sexual intercourse in women
Bleeding between periods in women
Testicular pain in men
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of your genital tract. It can also grow in your mouth, throat, eyes and anus. The first gonorrhea symptoms generally appear within 10 days after exposure. However, some people may be infected for months before signs or symptoms occur.
Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea may include:
Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the joystick or vagina
Pain or burning sensation when urinating
Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
Painful, swollen testicles
Painful bowel movements
Trichomoniasis is a common STI caused by a microscopic, one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This organism spreads during sexual intercourse with someone who already has the infection.
The organism usually infects the urinary tract in men, but often causes no symptoms. Trichomoniasis typically infects the vagina in women. When trichomoniasis causes symptoms, they may appear within five to 28 days of exposure and range from mild irritation to severe inflammation.
Signs and symptoms may include:
Clear, white, greenish or yellowish vaginal discharge
Discharge from the joystick
Strong vaginal odor
Vaginal itching or irritation
Itching or irritation inside the joystick
Pain during sexual intercourse
HIV is an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause illness, and it can lead to AIDS, a chronic, life-threatening disease.
When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms. Some people develop a flu-like illness, usually two to six weeks after being infected. Still, the only way you know if you have HIV is to be tested.
Early signs and symptoms
Early HIV signs and symptoms may include:
Swollen lymph glands
These early signs and symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, you’re highly infectious. More-persistent or -severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for 10 years.