STD Symptoms – An Overview by STD/STI

STD SymptomsThis is a general overview of common STD symptoms for the STDs listed. Click the red links to find detailed descriptions of symptoms specific to that STD and links to pictures of the STDs that can present visual symptoms.


Within 1 day – 2 weeks after getting chancroid, a person will get a small bump in the genitals. The bump becomes an ulcer within a day of its appearance. The ulcer may look like a chancre, the typical sore of primary syphilis.

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Half of all infected men and 80% of infected women have no symptoms at all. If you do get chlamydia symptoms, they may begin in as little as 5 to 10 days after contracting the infection or they may be so mild they are not noticed. Signs and symptoms can also show up many months later, or not until the infection spreads to other parts of the body.

  • an itching feeling inside the penis . This may be a tingling or itch in the urethra; sometimes referred to as “urethral awareness”.
  • heavy period or bleeding between periods (including women who are using hormonal contraception)
  • low-grade fever
  • pain in the abdominal, lower back, or lower stomach area
  • pain or a burning feeling while urinating
  • swelling inside the vagina or around the anus
  • the urge to urinate more than usual
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • pain or swelling of the testicles
  • white/cloudy and watery discharge from penis
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Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

In a healthy person, initial CMV infection often occurs without symptoms and is rarely noticed. Most people infected with CMV have no symptoms.

Occasionally, a first-time infection with CMV may cause mononucleosis. Symptoms include swollen glands, liver, and spleen; fever; increased white blood cells; headache; fatigue; and sore throat. About 8 percent of all mononucleosis cases are due to CMV infection.

  • Swollen glands, fatigue, fever, and general weakness
  • Irritations of the digestive tract, nausea, diarrhea
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
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Genital Warts (HPV)

Most people with an HPV infection will not develop visible warts and the virus will go away on its own. Often they are so tiny, or so difficult to see, that you don’t even know you have them. This means you may not know whether you or your partner have the virus.

If warts do appear, this can happen from three weeks to many months or even years, after coming into contact with the virus. You might notice small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes which may appear anywhere in or on the genital or anal area.

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Gonorrhea (‘The Clap’)

Symptoms are similar to those of Chlamydia (it is common to have these infections at the same time) and when symptoms do present, they usually show up between 2 and 10 days after sexual contact. However, in men, symptoms may take up to a month to appear. Although most women infected will remain asymptomatic (without symptoms), women who do develop noticeable symptoms usually do so within 10 days of infection.
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Hepatitis (A, B, & C)

Not all people infected with hepatitis A virus will have symptoms, but most adults infected with hepatitis A usually develop some symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Low-grade fever
  • Malaise (feeling of ill-health)
  • Fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Because hepatitis B often has no symptoms, most people are not aware that they have the infection. When hepatitis B symptoms do occur, they may mimic the flu and can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling ill
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Rash, hives, or arthritis may occur prior to the onset of other symptoms (during the early acute stage)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Tenderness or pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain in the joints
  • Headache
  • Fever
Most individuals with hepatitis C (70-80%) do not have signs or symptoms. Liver disease progresses so slowly that a person can have hepatitis C for years without having symptoms. Many individuals with chronic hepatitis C have mild to moderate liver damage but do not feel sick.
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Herpes (HSV1 & HSV2)

Many people with herpes will not have any visible signs or symptoms at all, or not be aware of them. It is estimated that 80% of persons in the United States has some form of herpes and 1 in 5 persons has genital herpes; however, as many as 90% are unaware that they have the virus. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Blisters, sores, or ulcers – most often on the mouth, lips and gums, thighs, buttocks, or genitals
  • Fever
  • Red blisters that break open and leak
  • Several smaller blisters that grow together into a large blister
  • Small blisters filled with clear yellowish fluid
  • Stinging, tingling or itching
  • Swollen, tender glands in the pelvic area, throat, and under the arms
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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

Most people infected with HIV do not know that they have become infected and have no signs and symptoms at all. About half of people who become infected with HIV experience flu-like symptoms within a few weeks after infection. Then there are usually no HIV symptoms for many years. That is why it can be hard to know if you have HIV.

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HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses that infect the skin. There are more than 100 different types of HPV. Certain types of HPV cause warts on the hands or feet, and other types can cause warts on the genitals – these are called low-risk types of HPV. Other types of genital HPV are linked to abnormal cell changes on the cervix (detected through Pap tests) that can lead to cervical cancer – these are called high-risk types of HPV.

Generally, there aren’t any noticeable HPV symptoms for high-risk types of HPV in women or men.

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Intestinal Parasites

Often there are no intestinal parasites symptoms. Parasites can live within the intestines for years without causing any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation,
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas or bloating
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Loose, watery stools sometimes containing blood and mucus
  • Nausea
  • Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva
  • Skin conditions – hives, rashes, weeping eczema, ulcers, swelling, sores, lesions, or dermatitis
  • Stomach pain or tenderness
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
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LGV (Lymphogranuloma Venereum)

LGV has three stages. In its primary stage, the disease is more likely to be detected in men; it may go unnoticed in both men and women. After an incubation period of 3 to 30 days, a small painless ulcer or blister usually develops in the genital area.

Second-stage LGV develops between 1 and 6 weeks later. In this stage, the infection spreads to the lymphatic system, forming buboes (swellings) in the lymph nodes of the groin area.

Third-stage LGV is marked by rectal pain, constipation, a discharge containing pus or bloody mucus, and the development of strictures (narrowing or tightening of a body passage) in the rectum or vagina.

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Molluscum Contagiosum

The average incubation period is between 2 and 7 weeks but in some cases, it can take up to 6 months for symptoms to appear.

Typically, a small group of painless lesions appears, but sometimes the bumps may itch or feel tender to the touch. The bumps may be alone or in a patch of as many as 20. Often there are no other symptoms.

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Mononucleosis (‘Mono’)

Mononucleosis can cause a number of different symptoms, depending on the strain of the virus and several other poorly understood factors. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Night sweats
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpit
  • Swollen tonsils
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Mycoplasma Genitalium

Mycoplasma genitalium is the main causes of nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) in men, and is commonly associated with bacterial vaginosis (vaginitis) in women. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Pain in the pelvic area and pain during sexual intercourse
  • An abnormal discharge
  • Stinging or burning when passing urine
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NGU (Nongonococcal Urethritis)

If NGU symptoms do occur they usually show up within 1 to 5 weeks after infection and may last only a few hours or days. In mild cases, symptoms may not show up for several months. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • A white or cloudy discharge
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty, burning or pain when urinating
  • The feeling that you need to pass urine frequently
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PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease)

Many women do not know that they have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Some cases of PID may have no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Fever (not always present; may come and go)
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased menstrual cramping
  • Increased or changed vaginal discharge
  • Nausea, with or without vomiting
  • No menstruation
  • Pain during vaginal intercourse
  • Pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen or back
  • Pain or tenderness in the pelvis
  • Vaginal discharge with abnormal color, texture, or smell
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Pubic Lice (‘Crabs’)

People do not usually notice symptoms until having pubic lice for anywhere from 5 days up to several weeks. Some people will not have any symptoms, or may not notice the lice or eggs at all. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Black powdery droppings from the lice in underwear
  • Brown eggs on pubic or other body hair
  • Intense itching in the genitals or anus
  • Irritation and inflammation in the affected area, sometimes caused by scratching
  • Mild fever
  • Skin reaction that is bluish-gray in color
  • Sores (lesions) in the genital area due to bites and scratching
  • Very tiny specks of blood on the skin
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Some people will not have any visible signs or symptoms at all, or may not be aware of them. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Itching, especially at night or which becomes worse in bed at night or after a hot bath or shower
  • Presence of lesions, such as brown nodules, rashes, or pimple-like irritations
  • Presence of the mite burrow(s), often in a zigzag or “S” pattern
  • Rashes, especially between the fingers
  • Scabies mites are very tiny and impossible to see with the naked eye. Fine silvery lines are sometimes visible in the skin where mites have burrowed.
  • Small bumps or rashes that appear in dirty-looking
  • Thin, pencil-mark lines on the skin
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Often, syphilis has no symptoms or has such mild symptoms that a person doesn’t notice them.

The primary stage of syphilis is usually marked by the appearance of a painless sore or open, wet ulcer, known as a chancre (pronounced ‘shanker’), within 10 to 90 days after contact with the bacteria and at the site of infection. It usually appears as a single, painless sore, that is raised or elevated.

The secondary stage of syphilis can develop 3 to 6 weeks after the sores appear. Symptoms can last from 2 to 6 weeks and they may come and go for up to 2 years.

  • Bumps or patches inside the mouth, anus or vagina
  • Condylomata lata or syphilitic “warts” – moist, raised or elevated skin lesions, may be found in the anus or genital area
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild fever
  • Mucous patches – flat, round, grayish-white sores, can appear on the mouth, throat, and cervix
  • Rashes on other parts of the body, including the neck, head torso, belly, and genitals
  • Rough, reddish-brown rash that appears on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet, which normally does not itch
  • Swollen glands

Symptoms of late stage or tertiary syphilis can occur 2 to 30+ years after infection. Complications during this stage can include:

  • Chronic nervous system disorders, such as blindness, insanity and paralysis
  • Gummas (small bumps or tumors that can develop on the skin, bones, liver or any other organ)
  • Problems with heart and blood vessels
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It is common not to notice trichomoniasis symptoms. When there are symptoms, they usually start within 5 to 28 days after sexual contact. In some cases, it can take months for symptoms to appear. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • A change in vaginal discharge – there may be a small amount or a lot, and it may be thick or thin, or frothy and yellow
  • Discharge that is green or grey
  • Discomfort when urinating
  • Itching in and around the vagina
  • Itching of the inner thighs
  • Pain during sex
  • Soreness, inflammation and itching in and around the vagina
  • Swelling in the groin
  • The urge to urinate frequently
  • Vaginal odor (foul or strong smell)
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Vaginitis is a name for swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vagina that can be the result of different factors. The most common kinds of vaginitis are bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast, a fungus. Sometimes, trichomoniasis (trich, pronounced “trick”) is called vaginitis too. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • A change in vaginal discharge
  • A change in vaginal odor
  • Irritation or itching of the vagina and/or genital areas
  • Pain with sexual intercourse
  • Redness, pain, and swelling of genital area
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Did these STD symptoms help you narrow down symptoms you’re experiencing? Have you had similar symptoms? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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