Almost everyone has heard of STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases. Formerly known as venereal diseases or VDs, and sometimes referred to as sexually transmitted infections or STIs, these diseases are spread through intimate contact.
As Planned Parenthood explains, “STDs are infections that are passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They’re really common, and lots of people who have them don’t have any symptoms. STDs can be dangerous, but the good news is that getting tested is no big deal, and most STDs are easy to treat.” (1)
Before you can treat an STD, however, you have to know the signs. Because these are so varied, and because they manifest in different people in such different ways, you must know a whole range of symptoms in order to be truly safe. That, combined with regular testing, will dramatically decrease the chances of getting an STD or passing it to someone else.
How Common Are STDs?
“Sexually transmitted diseases are one major group of diseases that make for ongoing hidden epidemics,” says LiveScience. In other words, they are always a problem, always rampant through a huge portion of the population. Unlike other frightening epidemics – think avian or swine flu – that cause mass panic, however, STDs tend to go largely unnoticed. That’s pretty shocking, considering how common they are. As of 2014 statistics:
“In the United States alone, there are nearly 20 million cases of new sexually transmitted infections yearly, from just eight viruses and bacteria, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” (2)
The American Sexual Health Association adds that half of those people are aged 15-24, and that one in two people will contract a disease by the age of 25. A huge part of the problem is that statistics of the same time period show that only 12 percent of people got tested for STDs. (3) Solving that alone would significantly curb the rampant spread – indeed, the epidemic nature – of most of these diseases.
Recognizing symptoms would also help greatly.
Common Signs and Symptoms of STDs
Below we’ll discuss some of the most common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. However, it’s important to understand a few facts first:
- Not having symptoms does not mean you don’t have an STD
- Some diseases, such as chlamydia, can return even if you have been treated
- Some diseases are active even though you aren’t having an outbreak, such as herpes
- Not seeing these symptoms in your partner does not mean it is “safe” to have sex with them
- Feeling like things “aren’t right down there” is plenty cause to get an STD test
The main point? If you notice anything wrong, even if you don’t see super obvious signs, it’s time to get tested. With that said, here are the main symptoms of which to be aware.
Bumps, Sores and Blisters
Sores and blisters arise from many different types of STD. For instance, herpes is known for causing red, painful bumps that look like pimples on both the genitals and mouth. Over time, these blisters burst, causing painful scabs that eventually heal, only to return with fresh outbreaks. Human papillomavirus can also cause bumps in the form of genital warts. Syphilis is known to cause a small, hard bump at the site of infection. In other words, all bumps and blisters should be taken very seriously when it comes to sexual health.
A common sign of STDs, and infection in general, is rash. Rash is such a wide-sweeping symptom, however, that many people ignore it. After all, our beauty products, outdoor plants, certain foods, flus and other diseases can all cause rashes mild to severe. Because of this, many people are tempted to dismiss rash, when in fact, it could point to one of the more serious diseases, such as HIV and syphilis.
Both men and women may experience unusual discharge from their genitals with an STD. For men, this usually means weeping fluid from the tip of the penis, either white or yellow in color, or appearing pus-like. For women, this means discharge that is an odd color or smell, that occurs at the wrong times of month, or even bleeding between periods. Both men and women may experience discharge or bleeding from the rectum, which is also significant symptom and should be checked out.
Men and women can get STDs that affect their urethras. If you find urination painful, do not simply dismiss it as a urinary tract infection (UTI). Instead, take an STD test and ensure that it’s not something worse. Same goes for men who experience pain while ejaculating.
It is somewhat normal for genitals to itch. They are moist environments and, by the end of the day or after a workout, can work up an itch. However, if that itch persists and does not resolve with the application of drugstore creams, you could have an STD.
Fever, Flu Symptoms and Swollen Lymph Nodes
When infections get serious, your body will start fighting them off like any other infection: by getting hot, feverish, ill, nauseous and so forth. If you experience any flu-like symptoms, with or without the above, take an STD test.
Why You Need to Get Tested Today
The importance of testing is greater now than ever. Essentially, the medical community is unable to halt the spread of these diseases without the help of sexually active people. Getting tested regularly does several things:
- Allows you to avoid serious complications of STDs, such as infertility
- Reduces the chance that you will unknowingly spread the disease to someone else
- Lets you know if you have an untrustworthy partner
- Helps you alert your previous sexual partners so they can curb their potential spread of disease
- Gives you the heads up on STDs so you can cure or treat them as soon as possible
From now on, if you are sexually active, then you should get tested every time you switch partners, every time you have sex with an unknown partner, every time you have sex while not sober, and any time you find out that one of your previous partners has an STD.
Are you sexually active? Regular screening is an essential part of a healthy sex life and can protect you and your partners from sexually transmitted diseases. For affordable and accurate STD screening in the privacy of your own home, request your STD test kit today.
(1) STDs. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex
(2) Hidden STD Epidemic: 110 Million Infections in the US. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/48100-sexually-transmitted-infections-50-states-map.html
(3) Statistics. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/statistics/