Womens Health

STD Symptoms

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can cause great discomfort and pose serious risks to a woman’s reproductive health. A woman should always see her health care provider immediately if she believes that she might have an STD, as many symptoms are not specific to STDs alone; for example, discomfort during urination may be mistaken for a urinary tract infection. Read on for a list of the most common STDs and their symptoms.

Most women who contract Chlamydia do not experience any symptoms. However, some of the most common Chlamydia symptoms include abnormal discharge from the vagina, as well as burning during urination. Long-term symptoms of Chlamydia include lower abdominal pain, the inflammation of the eyes, and skin lesions. Women may also experience inflammation of the pelvic organs, known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Men with Chlamydia will experience symptoms such as abnormal discharge form the penis, as well as pain in the testicles. Chlamydia can be cured but it may return.

Genital Herpes
Common genital herpes symptoms include the appearance of small red bumps, blisters or open sores on the vagina or areas surrounding the vagina. Women may also experience vaginal discharge, fever, headache, muscle aches and pain during urination. The glands of the vaginal area may also experience swelling, and itching and burning may also occur. Men with genital herpes will experience blisters, bumps or open sores on the penis and surrounding area. Medication can reduce the severity of the symptoms of genital herpes, but symptoms may reappear. There is no cure for the disease.

Symptoms of gonorrhea include pain and burning during urination, as well as yellowish and sometimes bloody discharge from the vagina. Many men will not exhibit any symptoms, although in some cases, a yellowish or bloody discharge will be excreted from the penis. Gonorrhea may be cured but reinfection may occur, especially if both partners are not treated.

Genital Warts
First appearing as painless bumps on the vagina or penis and surrounding area, genital warts, also known as human papillomavirus (HPV) can become fleshy in appearance if left untreated. However, in some cases, no symptoms appear, even though the individual has contracted the STD.

In women, genital warts increase the risk of cervical cancer. Gardasil is a vaccine recently approved that decreases the risk of both genital warts and cervical cancer and is safe to be administered to young girls and women who are between 9 to 26 years of age.

Hepatitis B
Common hepatitis B symptoms include a mild fever, headache, joint pain and muscle aches. Symptoms of hepatitis B also include fatigue, loss of appetite and stomach pain. Jaundice is also a hepatitis B symptom and results in the skin and whites of the eyes turning yellow. Thirty percent of individuals who have contracted hepatitis B exhibit no symptoms. Medication is available to reduce the extent of damage to the liver. While there is no cure for hepatitis B, a vaccine is available to prevent it.

HIV/AIDS In some cases, HIV/AIDs symptoms are not apparent for ten years or more. Common symptoms of HIV/AIDS include extreme fatigue, rapid weight loss, as well as recurring yeast infections (in the mouth). Night sweats are also common, as are low-grade fevers. Red, brown or purplish splotches may also appear under the skin, inside the eyelids, mouth or nose. Women with HIV/AIDS may also experience other STDs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or changes in their menstrual cycle.

During the primary stage of syphilis (between 10 days and 6 weeks after exposure to the STD), painless sores known as chancres may appear and heal on their own. If syphilis is left untreated, however, the disease will progress to the secondary stage which include common syphilis symptoms such as a sore throat, fatigue and a skin rash.

The latent stage of syphilis is the period during which symptoms disappear, but the infection remains in the body affecting the joints, nerves, liver, bones, heart, blood vessels and the brain. The late stage of syphilis includes paralysis, gradual blindness, dementia and in some cases death. If treated early on, syphilis can be cured; however, it is possible for syphilils to be contracted again, especially if both partners are not treated.

Who’s At Risk?

You are at risk of contracting an STD if:

  • you have unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with a person who may have a sexually transmitted disease
  • your partner has or has had an STD
  • you have a new sex partner
  • you or your partner have multiple sex partners
  • you have had sex under the influence of either drugs or alcohol
  • you or your parner share needles or other equipment for drugs, body piercing, tattoos or sex toys

Teenaged girls are at a particularly high risk for contracting STDs, especially if they have unprotected sex. The best means of prevention when it comes to STDs is by practicing safe sex methods such abstinence, using condoms properly and everytime you have sex, and by limiting multiple partners.

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