After having sex with someone new, whether you use protection or not, sometimes your mind will begin to think and fear the possibility of an STI. STIs such as chlamydia, HPV, herpes, and gonorrhea are on the rise now more now than ever. The worst kind of STI’s are the ones that show no symptoms. And unfortunately, most of them do not produce symptoms, and when they do, they are very indistinct. The best option is to go get tested, but if you are wondering what the symptoms are, there are some common ones to look out for.
How STIs Are Passed
STIs are usually passed by intercourse, but there are other instances.
- Vaginal sex
- Anal sex
- Oral sex
- Oro-anal sex- When one partner’s mouth or tongue is on the other partner’s anus.
- Mother to child during pregnancy or birth
- Contaminated needles.
Most Common STI Symptoms
Some STIs will show generic flu-like symptoms, and women are more likely to suffer from STI symptoms than men. If an STI goes unnoticed and untreated, it can cause long-lasting and irreversible problems. For example, chlamydia can spread beyond the cervix, to the fallopian tubes, and turn into pelvic inflammatory disease. This kind of disease can cause infertility.
As stated, unfortunately, the most common symptom of a sexually transmitted infection is no symptoms at all. This is how STIs are passed on to sexual partners, creating an epidemic. Here are some things to recognize:
- Leaking unusual discharge that is thick or thin milky white, yellow or green
- Pain or burning during urination
- Vaginal itching
- Pain during sex
- Bumps, spots, lesions on or around your vagina/penis
- Flu-like symptoms, this is especially common with HIV
Less Common Symptoms
- Bleeding or spotting in between cycles
- Pelvic pain
- Sore throat after oral sex
- Lower back pain
- Painless ulcers in your genitals
- Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge after anal sex
- Joint pain/swelling
The only way to find out if you have an STI is to get tested. You can go to Planned Parenthood to get tested, or your physician. A simple urine test can be detected on the same day and treated during your visit. Other results, such as from a blood test can take up to a week to test.
You should get tested:
- After any sexual contact with a new or casual partner
- After sex if you suspect your partner is sleeping with other people
- After sexual contact in countries where HIV and other STIs are common
- If your partner tells you they contracted an STI or diagnosed with one
- After any nonconsensual sexual contact
What If I Have An STI?
If you are diagnosed with an STI, there are medications you will be given to clear it up. Most STIs will be cleared up, except for permanent ones such as HIV. Treatment of HIV will reduce the virus from spreading, increasing life expectancy. It is important to contact and sexual partners you had in the last 3-6 months, so they can get tested and treatment if necessary.
In order to reduce your risk of STIs, always use protection such as condoms. Make sure the condom is free of holes and breakage, and is not expired. It is better to be safe than sorry!