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What Are the First Signs of an STD?

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For many centuries, humankind has been plagued by a number of infections primarily transmitted through intimate sexual contact. Known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), these diseases run the gamut from common and annoying (e.g. chlamydia or genital herpes), to less common, but far more serious (e.g. HIV or syphilis).
It takes time for noticeable symptoms to develop in most instances, regardless of the disease-causing organism (pathogen) responsible. Symptom onset may occur anywhere from a few days to a few weeks — or even months — after exposure. In some cases, there may be no noticeable signs at all. In these instances, the infected person is more likely to pass along the infection unknowingly to future partners. For this reason, it is important to be tested for STDs if you have engaged in unprotected sexual activity (sex without a condom).

Early Signs Among Women

  • Vaginal discharge
    • May vary in consistency, or color (thick or thin; white, yellow, or greenish)
  • Itching of the vulva or vagina
  • Vaginal blisters/blisters on the vulva (the external genitals)
  • Rash on the vulva/vagina
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Pain upon urination
  • Painful intercourse
  • Sore throat (after oral sex)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Spotting or bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever
  • Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge (after anal sex)
  • NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL
    • Unfortunately, this scenario is surprisingly common. Despite a lack of noticeable symptoms, you could still be infectious, and your infection could progress and cause serious harm. In some instances, this harm may involve irreversible damage, including permanent infertility.

Early Signs Among Men

  • NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL
    • Unfortunately, this scenario is especially common among men. In some instances, a vaguely flu-like illness may be experienced — and easily overlooked.
  • Blisters on, or adjacent to, the penis
  • Bumps, spots, or lesions on the penis
  • Discharge from the penis
    • May be thick or thin, and may vary in color (clear, white, or yellowish)
  • Pain upon urination
  • Pain upon ejaculation
  • Itching at the tip of the penis
  • A rash on the penis, testicles, or groin
  • Sore throat (following oral sex)
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms that do not go away
  • Pain, swelling, or tenderness in the testicles
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Pain or swelling of the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis)
  • Rectal discharge, bleeding, or pain (after anal receptive sex)

How Long Does It Take for STD Symptoms to Show Up?

The time from infection until symptoms manifest — if they appear at all — varies widely, and depends on the specific pathogen and the individual. All too often, symptoms do not appear at all, or they go unnoticed. Despite this, an STD should never be ignored. Left untreated, many STDs can progress and cause permanent, irreversible harm.
Note that an infected person remains capable of transmitting infection to other people, regardless of any symptoms. Depending on the specific pathogen (disease-causing organism) symptoms of STD may appear within four to five days — or four to five weeks. Some infections might yield noticeable symptoms even months after the initial infection.

How Do You Know If You Have an STD?

There is only one way to be sure: You must be tested as soon as possible. While home testing kits for certain STDs, such as HIV, are available, it is crucial for the patient to see a qualified physician. A doctor can identify (or rule out) specific infections and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Patients can also receive counseling regarding effective ways to prevent future infections.
There are presently many STDs circulating. Some are relatively new, emergent diseases. Others, such as syphilis, have plagued humankind for many centuries. Modern antibiotics and other drugs have vastly improved our ability to vanquish these dangerous diseases, but early diagnosis and treatment remain crucial.

When to Visit PhysicianOne Urgent Care for STD Testing

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and are concerned you may have an STD, PhysicianOne Urgent Care is here 7 days per week for high-quality urgent care, at a fraction of the cost of the Emergency Room, including STD testing. Contact us at 1.855.349.2828, or stop in today for a convenient, walk-in visit. If you’re looking to save time, find a location near you and check in online today!

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