One of the biggest misconception about STDs is that you need to be sexually active in order to catch one; YOU DO NOT. So even if you’ve never had vaginal intercourse, keep reading…
STDs can be easy to spot, but some of them can be extremely subtle as well. If you’re worried you might be sick, here are a few symptoms you should be looking out for:
1. Painful intercourse
Sex can be uncomfortable and painful sometimes, especially the first few times. If you’re sexually active though, and all of the sudden sex starts burning and hurting, don’t just assume that it’s nothing. It’s most likely an infection. Human papillomavirus infection (HPV), Chlamydia and many other infections start with that burn, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
2. Lower abdominal pain
If you’re sexually active and have a stomach ache, it might be nothing and probably just something you ate. If a few days later that pain persists though, especially if you feel pressure in your lower abdomen where you would get menstrual cramps, you should go see a doctor as soon as possible.
3. Unusual discharge from the genitals
A change in the consistency, odor, texture, and color of your normal discharge might also be a warning sign. It can be something simple and treatable like a yeast infection, or it could be something more serious. Symptoms of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are also abnormal discharges of the penis and vagina, so you should definitely get checked out if you think something has changed.
4. High fever and fatigue
If you’ve just had unprotected sex, and feel a fever coming on, don’t assume that you’re just coming down with a cold. It could definitely be an STD. Fatigue, fever, nausea, and headaches are all early symptoms of HIV, so it’s best to get checked out just to be sure that you’re fine.
5. Open sores near the “mouth” of the genitals
It’s really easy to ignore a small sore on your body, but sores on the genitals and anus often indicate symptoms of STDs like syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, HPV and many others. These open sores are usually small, blister-like, and in come in clusters. You would develop a rash on parts of your body, and if untreated could eventually lead to the damaging of organs.
6. Itching or swelling in the genital area
I know itching probably sounds like such a minor thing, but the itching of the genitals, and swollen testicles and are some symptoms of early Gonorrhea. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause rashes that will spread to your joints which eventually goes into your bloodstream.
7. Painful urination
Some symptoms of Chlamydia include the burning of the tip of the penis and the itching of the vagina which eventually leads to painful urination. If left untreated, Chlamydia can cause paralysis, infertility etc… It can be easily treated with antibiotics, so make sure pay a quick visit to the clinic just to be cleared.
STDs can be embarrassing, especially to talk about. Remember though that we’re all human and mistakes do happen. The most important thing is to remember to prioritize yourself and your health, and to go see someone quickly. If you think you might be sick and might possibly do have an STD, you should make an appointment with a doctor, or your school’s health center as soon as possible.
Mondyna is a student at Fredonia State University. She is majoring in Biology, with minors in Criminal Justice & French. She loves science, writing, eating, and traveling.