The thought of catching an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or STD (sexually transmitted disease) is a scary and sometimes embarrassing situation to find yourself in. However, according to a 2019 study by Public Health England, there were 468,342 diagnoses of STIs made in England, meaning it is not something to be self-conscious about. The vast majority of sexually active adults will experience at least one STI or STD during their lives. Therefore it is crucial to make yourself aware of how to spot the tell-tale symptoms.
STIs and STDs are passed from person to person through bodily fluids. Although this generally occurs through sexual contact, it is possible to catch one of these infections through shared needles or blood transfusions.
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Even though sufferers will generally experience a range of common symptoms, many don’t exhibit symptoms, can take weeks to appear or just aren’t recognised as being the typical signs of an STI or STD. This is where we are hoping to help you spot the lesser-known symptoms with our guide below.
What Symptoms Should You Look Out For?
Sores and/or Bumps
Although sores and bumps are not always associated with sexually transmitted infections or diseases, they are easy to spot. Sores and bumps are likely signs of an STI when they appear on your genitals, oral or rectal area. Common STIs that could be a reason for sores and/or bumps include genital warts, genital herpes, syphilis and scabies.
Pain or Burning Sensation While Urinating
Another very common symptom experienced with a range of STIs and STDs is a pain or burning sensation when urinating. Although people may ignore this if the pain is more like discomfort, it is important to get it checked out as it could be anything from chlamydia and trichomoniasis to genital herpes.
A clear sign that you may be suffering from an STI or STD is a genital or rectal discharge. This symptom can occur in men and women and it could signify that you are suffering from chlamydia, trichomoniasis or gonorrhoea. It may even be a symptom of genital herpes in women.
One of the scarier symptoms to experience is that of genital bleeding. If you find small amounts of blood coming from your genitals or rectum, this could be a sign that you are suffering from genital warts. Thankfully there is a range of treatments that you can use to combat the virus.
Although general soreness can be a symptom of any everyday flu or cold, it can also be a sign that you are suffering from an STI. Soreness is a symptom associated with syphilis which has been on the rise and is now one of the more common STIs in the UK. Thankfully with a course of antibiotics or injections, syphilis is treatable.
Abdominal pain is often a sign of chlamydia but generally only in women, whereas men may experience more pain or discomfort in their testicles. Although concerning, Chlamydia is the UK’s most common STI and one of the easiest to treat with a course of antibiotics.
Pain During Intercourse
If you are experiencing pain during sex, it is important to get tested as this can be a symptom of trichomoniasis. This STI is caused by a tiny parasite called trichomoniasis vaginalis and is usually spread through unprotected sex. Thankfully trichomoniasis is very treatable with a quick course of antibiotics.
Again a fever can be a common sign of your body fighting an infection. However, if you are unsure of what could be causing your fever-like symptoms and have had unprotected sex or come into contact with a used needle or medical equipment, you could be suffering from syphilis. Therefore, it is a good idea to get tested and rule it out or start a course of treatment.
Rash or Skin Blemishes
Whether a rash or skin blemish is appearing on your body or on your genital region, it is a good idea to get checked for a potential STI. Rashes, red spots or skin blemishes can be caused by several different STIs, including trichomoniasis, genital warts, pubic lice and scabies. Thankfully, these are all treatable STIs, so if you experience any unexplained rashes or spots, you should get in touch with your sexual health clinic immediately.
Sexually transmitted diseases are often considered a scary and taboo subject amongst adults and even sexual partners. However, it is vital to raise awareness about good sexual health and get help if you suspect any form of infection. Although your sexual health clinic is a great place to get help, you can also find at-home sexual health tests which provide accurate and rapid results. Don’t wait; keep yourself and your partner safe with good sexual health practices.