We’ve all heard of at least some of the symptoms of having an STD — burning during urination, genital warts, cold sores, etc.
However, what many of us don’t know is that some STDs don’t have symptoms at all, and if they do they can be very hard to notice. Gonorrhea, for example, typically does not have any symptoms, especially for women. In fact, 4 out of 5 women with gonorrhea experience no symptoms of the disease. Between 70-95% of women with chlamydia don’t experience any symptoms either. HIV can show no external symptoms for years, even as it damages the immune system internally. To learn more about the easily missed signs of STDs, keep reading.
Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
One of the most common yet easy to ignore signs of most STDs is change in color, smell, and/or texture of vaginal discharge. Many women assume the changes in discharge are indicative of a yeast infection, “and self-treat with over-the-counter yeast infection drug[s].” While in some cases a yeast infection may hold true, it’s important to get regularly tested for STDs just in case. Get to know the signs of healthy discharge as well, so you can spot when something is wrong.
Many STDs also cause soreness or swelling in the body, including the back, stomach, and legs. This can easily be brushed off as no big deal, especially for those who work out frequently and might experience post-exercise soreness anyway, or for those who suffer from chronic pain.
What may seem like the flu could also be the sign of an STD. Nausea, fever, vomiting, body aches, and diarrhea are all signs of certain STDs that can easily be misdiagnosed as just a common stomach flu.
Swollen glands in throat
Oral sex can also lead to the transfer of STDs, and swollen lymph nodes or glands in the throat are one consequence of that. Again, this can also be easily misdiagnosed as simply a sore throat, strep, or the beginning of a cold.
Planned Parenthood recommends getting tested at least once every year, but they also have a short, simple quiz to determine if you might need to go in sooner. It is also recommended to get tested after any new sexual partner, if your partner is exhibiting symptoms of an STD, and after having unprotected sex. Sex should be fun for everyone involved, and having good sexual health will only enhance the experience for all.