If you’ve recently had unprotected sex, started seeing someone new, or have more than one partners, you might be at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Contrary to popular misconceptions, any type of sexual activity including oral, vaginal or anal intercourse may expose you to the most commonly occurring STDs. These include gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, HIV, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), trichomoniasis and syphilis. While condoms are highly effective in preventing them, the method is not entirely considered foolproof.
While bacterial STDs are treated with antibiotics, Viral STDs (like HIV, for example) cannot be cured but are managed using regular medications, that help to keep symptoms at bay.
While symptoms of all STDs tend to vary, there are certain patterns in symptoms that you could look out for, to determine if you have an STD. It is important to note, that you won’t notice the symptoms right away – in fact, a lot of people don’t notice any obvious symptoms at all, which further emphasizes the need to get screened in order to be totally sure.
Here are some of the possible symptoms you could refer to:
1.Rashes in the genital area: In most cases, rashes start off as a “sore” – which might look like an ingrown hair, a harmless cut or even a non-noticeable bump. In a later stage, this might transcend into painful blisters in and around the vagina, penis, or mouth, followed by constant itching, tingling feeling in your genital area.
2. Abnormal genital discharge: In women, a white discharge is considered a normal occurrence. However, a smelly, yellowish, or green discharge along with a burning sensation when you urinate should be a cause for alarm, in both men and women.
3. Genital warts are generally characterized by skin lesions across your genitalia, mainly penile shaft, labia majora, scrotum or vagina. Internal surfaces like the opening of the urethra, cervix, or the anus, are also susceptible to warts. While the color of the warts is variable, they are usually 1-5mm in diameter and might bleed.
4. Abdominal pain: An infection of chlamydia or gonorrhea leads to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which gives rise to a dull pain in your pelvic, abdominal and/or stomach area. The pain is magnified when you indulge in sexual intercourse.
5. Fever: Experiencing headache, slight fever, sore throat, and prolonged fatigue might seem synonymous with flu, but are also common starting symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases like herpes and HIV.
Apart from the above, other common symptoms might include irregular menstrual cycle or bleeding between periods, swollen lymph nodes in the groin area, hair loss, and swelling in joints.
Since STDs are communicable, it is imperative in this day and age, to approach your healthcare provider about getting tested on STDs. If left untreated, STDs can cause long-term organ and nerve damage, along with affecting your brain. STDs in case of pregnant women results in birth deformities, neurological complications, stillbirth, and death (in about 40 percent cases).
Screening for STDs is done during a physical exam, testing samples of urine, blood, genital/anal secretions, or through Pap smears. Make sure you’re tested by a professional in sterile conditions and avoid any home remedies to treat you.