Should I get tested for STDs?
Most of the time, STDs have no symptoms. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD. So if you’ve had vaginal, anal, or oral sex, talk with a doctor or nurse about getting tested.
I think have symptoms of an STD. Should I get tested?
If you’ve had sexual contact with another person and notice any signs of an STD, talk to a doctor or nurse about getting tested. STD symptoms can come and go over time, but that doesn’t mean the STD is gone. It’s common for STD symptoms to be so mild that they don’t bother you, but you should still the doctor if you notice anything that feels off.
Different STDs have different symptoms (see below full text). Signs of STDs include:
sores or bumps on and around your genitals, thighs, or butt cheeks
weird discharge from your vagina or penis
burning when you pee and/or having to pee a lot
itching, pain, irritation and/or swelling in your penis, vagina, vulva, or anus
flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches, swollen glands, and feeling tired.
All of these symptoms can be caused by things that aren’t STDs (like pimples, UTIs, or yeast infections). So getting tested is the only way to know for sure what’s going on. Talk with your nurse or doctor about your symptoms, what kind of sex you’ve had (vaginal, anal, or oral), and whether you use condoms and/or dental dams. They’ll help you figure out what kinds of testing or treatment you may need.
It’s really important to get tested if you think you have an STD, because some STDs can cause serious health problems if you don’t treat them. Also, having an STD makes you more likely to get other STDs, like HIV. And it’s best to find out right away if you have an STD, so you can avoid giving it to other people.
The idea of getting tested may seem scary, but try to chill out. Most common STDs can be easily cured with medicine. And STDs that can’t be cured often have treatments to help you with symptoms and to lower your chances of giving the STD to anyone else. So the sooner you know you have an STD, the faster you can start taking care of yourself and your partner(s).
I don’t have any symptoms — do I still need to get tested?
You can’t tell if you have an STD just by the way you look or feel — most of the time, people with STDs don’t have any symptoms. So the only way to know for sure if you (or your partner) have an STD is to get tested.
It’s extra important to get tested if you’ve had unprotected sex, or if you find out your partner has an STD. A doctor or nurse can tell you whether or not you should be tested for STDs.
If you DO have an STD, it’s best to find out as soon as possible. Some STDs can cause serious damage over time, even if you feel totally fine right now. STDs can also spread to other people you have sex with, whether or not you have any symptoms.
The best part about getting tested for STDs? Once you get it over with, it can really put your mind at ease. STD testing is a regular part of being responsible and taking care of yourself. Plus, STD tests can be quick, painless, and sometimes even free..
MAIN TYPES OF STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)
Herpes (type 2)
Herpes is a virus that can affect many areas of the body, including the mouth and eyes. The sexually transmitted form of herpes most commonly affects the genitals.
Symptoms of herpes include:
pain or unusual sensations on the genitals a few days before an outbreak
an outbreak of red or swollen blisters
blisters that are very painful and which eventually crust over
feeling ill or having low energy during an outbreak
No treatment can cure herpes. However, antiviral drugs can make outbreaks less painful and potentially reduce the risk of spreading the infection to a partner.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a virus that causes genital warts. It also increases the risk of some cancers, including cervical and throat cancer. A vaccine can prevent the virus, and some children receive the vaccine around the age of 12.
Many people with HPV have no symptoms. In fact, the types of HPV most likely to cause cancer rarely cause symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may develop small warts on and around their genitals.
Pubic lice, also called crabs, are tiny insects that live in coarse hair, such as pubic hair. Pubic lice feed on a person's blood.
They spread through close contact between people, or contact with clothing or other objects that have lice or eggs on them.
Symptoms of pubic lice include:
itching in the pubic area, especially at night when the lice are most active
red or swollen skin
black spots in underwear
gray or white spots in the pubic hair
People can treat pubic lice with medications that they can buy over the counter.
Anyone who suspects they may have an STD should speak to a doctor.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that affects both males and females. If left untreated in females, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause pelvic and stomach pain, and may even affect fertility.
Chlamydia can infect the vagina, penis, or rectum. Some people have no symptoms. Others experience:
burning during or after sex
unusual discharge from the vagina, penis, or rectum
less commonly, swelling of the testicles
Antibiotics can cure chlamydia.
Like chlamydia, gonorrhea can infect both males and females and can cause PID in females. Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that spreads through sexual contact.
People with gonorrhea often have no symptoms at all. When symptoms do appear, they may include:
unusual discharge from the vagina or penis
pain when urinating
pain in the stomach
bleeding between periods
Gonorrhea can also affect other areas of the body, causing symptoms such as:
pain and itching in the eyes
a sore throat or swollen glands in the neck
swelling, warmth, or redness in the joints
Treatment for gonorrhea usually involves antibiotics.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a bacterial infection that affects the vagina. Doctors do not know what causes it, but it is more common among sexually active women. This suggests that it may be sexually transmitted.
Many women with BV have no symptoms. Some experience itching or burning, which may resemble a yeast infection. Other BV symptoms include:
a fishy odor, especially after having sex
a thin, pale, grayish discharge from the vagina
burning when peeing
BV may go away without treatment. It may also come back. Some women need antibiotics to treat BV.
Hepatitis is a virus that affects the liver. There are three types of hepatitis. Hepatitis A and B are sexually transmitted and highly contagious. Often, they do not cause symptoms, and a vaccination can protect against them.
Though it is uncommon, hepatitis C can also spread through sexual contact. Hepatitis C is a chronic illness that antivirals can sometimes cure.
The course of hepatitis and how treatable it is depends on the type of hepatitis a person has. The symptoms may go away on their own.
Symptoms of hepatitis include:
very low energy
unexplained stomach pain or pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
very dark urine
pale bowel movements
yellow skin or eyes
Trichomoniasis, sometimes called trich, is a parasite that spreads through sexual and close contact. Most people with trichomoniasis do not know they have it. If it is left untreated, the infection can last for years and may spread to sexual partners.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis include:
pain during or after sex
unusual discharge from the penis
yellowish or greenish discharge from the vagina
fishy smell from the genitals
burning or red genitals
a sore, burning sensation inside the vagina or penis
An oral medication can cure trichomoniasis. People with a previous infection may get the infection again. People who have trichomoniasis are also at higher risk of contracting another STD.
Using a condom can help prevent the transmission of HIV.
HIV damages immune system cells, which makes it progressively more difficult for the body to fight infections.
Left untreated, HIV increases the risk of serious complications or even death from otherwise minor infections. People can contract HIV through contact with blood or genital fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluid.
Shortly after contracting HIV, 40 to 90 percentof people develop flu-like symptoms, including:
painful sores in the mouth
muscle aches and pains
swollen lymph nodes
Healthcare professionals can treat HIV using antiretroviral medication. This does not completely eradicate the virus but reduces the amount of HIV in the blood to undetectable levels, meaning it is no longer possible to transmit it sexually.
Without antiretroviral treatment, HIV moves into a latency stage that may cause no noticeable symptoms and eventually progresses to stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS. As the disease progresses, people become more vulnerable to illness. They may have frequent infections.
Symptoms of stage 3 HIV include:
brown, pink, or red blotches on the skin of the mouth, eyelids, or nose
unexplained weight loss
frequent yeast or other infections
diarrhea that lasts a week or longer
sores on the genitals or mouth
swollen lymph nodes
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that people can spread through sexual contact. Left untreated, it can cause serious complications and even death. But in the early stages, syphilis is treatable with antibiotics.
In the early stages of syphilis, people may notice sores at the site where syphilis entered the body, which is often the genitals. The sores are typically:
small and round
In the second stage of syphilis, symptoms include:
swollen lymph nodes
After the second stage, syphilis enters a latency period and might not cause symptoms. If syphilis enters the third and most serious stage of syphilis, it can affect the heart and brain.