AetnaWomens Health.
Moms to Babies
gifAWH_RH_repro_health
Heart Health
Breast Health
gifAWH_women_depression
Migraine Health
Childrens Health
Osteoporosis Health
Members and Consumers
Womens Health Home
...
...
Welcome To Womens Health
.
Aetna Home
.
Contact Us
.
Help
.
gifAWH_print
.
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Know The Symptoms Of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Depending on the type of infection you may have, sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms vary. If you think you may be at risk for contracting an STD, it is important that you get tested even if you have no symptoms. Many infected individuals have no visible signs of a particular disease. If you are infected, you could develop complications from the STD and pass the infection to others. You can prevent serious health issues by getting tested early, so that you can seek treatment.

Common Symptoms For Women

Vaginal Discharge

What should you look for?

  • A change in the color, smell, or amount of your vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge is normally clear or white.
  • Yellow or green discharge with a strong fishy odor. This may mean you have bacterial vaginosis.
  • Curd-like, cream-colored discharge. This may mean you have a yeast infection.

Note: While both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections may be passed sexually, they are usually not classified as STDs. Individuals typically do not develop these conditions through sexual contact.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your health-care professional. You may have a sexually transmitted infection such as trichomoniasis, gonorrhea or chlamydia. In addition to changes in vaginal discharge, these infections often cause pain or burning during urination as well.

Pain During Urination (Dysuria)

What should you look for?

  • Pain or burning with urination — especially if it comes on slowly (over one or two days) — rather than suddenly
  • The need to urinate more urgently or frequently than usual

If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your health-care professionanl.

Note: Pain or burning with urination (dysuria) is very common among adult women. Urinary tract infections are the major cause, but STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis can sometimes cause dysuria without any other symptoms. Genital herpes can also cause burning with urination, but this usually occurs if you also have genital ulcers.

Pain With Intercourse (Dyspareunia)

What should you look for?

  • Pain during or after sexual intercourse

Women with dyspareunia may feel superficial pain at the entrance of the vagina or deeper pain with penetration or penile thrusting. Typically you will experience the pain suddenly and notice other symptoms such as vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, burning during urination (dysuria) or genital ulcers.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your health-care professional. STDs are a common cause of dyspareunia.

Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

What should you look for?

  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles or especially after intercourse

If you have this symptom, talk with your health-care professional. Gonorrhea, chlamydia and genital warts may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. You may be especially at risk if you notice symptoms such as pain or burning with urination (dysuria) and vaginal discharge.

Note: There are many noninfectious causes of irregular vaginal bleeding, such as menstrual abnormalities, hormonal contraceptives such as Depo-Provera shots, benign growths (fibroids), pregnancy, cancer or trauma.

Common Symptoms For Men

Penile Discharge/Pain During Urination (Dysuria)

What should you look for?

  • A clear or pus-like discharge from the urethra (opening in the penis where urine comes out)
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • The need to urinate more urgently or frequently than usual

If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your health-care professional. You may have an STD, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or trichomoniasis. Genital herpes also can cause pain or burning with urination, but this usually occurs if you also have genital ulcers.

Common Symptoms For Women Or Men

Genital Ulcers

What should you look for?

  • Ulcers or small blisters in the genital area

If you have this symptom, talk with your health-care professional. Herpes simplex virus is the most common cause of genital-ulcer disease in the United States. Moreover, if you have genital ulcers you are at much greater risk of becoming infected with HIV. Other STDs that can cause genital ulcers include syphilis and chancroid (though this is a very rare among Americans).

Note: There are also noninfectious causes for genital ulcers, including drug reactions, Behçet's disease and trauma.

Last updated May 18, 2007




.