The Signs and Symptoms of STDs

“How can I tell if I have an STD?” Wow, that’s a loaded question. We get lots of Beforeplayers asking us about certain symptoms and if they might be the signs of an STD/STI. Unfortunately there’s not always an easy answer. Each STD is different and has its own set of indicators, but many common symptoms can apply to any number of these sexually transmitted infections.

While we definitely can’t go over every single possible STD symptom, there are a couple of frequently asked guy-focused, gal-focused and everybody focused questions we’d like to cover right here and right now.

For the Dudes

  • What could cause my testicles to hurt?

As far as STDs are concerned, this uncomfortable symptom most likely may be due to Chlamydia or gonorrhea. For both of these infections, your testicles may swell and become sore, which is an effect called epididymitis, but this isn’t a super common symptom for either infection. Other reasons for testicular pain may be injury or trauma, a urinary tract infection or a non-sexually transmitted bacteria or virus like mumps. No matter what, if you have pain down there, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it, see a health care provider ASAP.

  • What does it mean if my penis is discolored or has bumps?

Bumps and discoloration around the penis aren’t exactly symptoms someone would look forward to—particularly when they’re painful. STD-wise, these particular symptoms could be caused by syphilis, scabies, public lice (aka “crabs”), molluscum contagiosum, genital warts or herpes. Other causes could be everything from skin irritation and temperature change to razor burn, ingrown hairs or clogged pores. Best thing to do? See a health care provider. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the better off you’ll be, especially in the case of an STD.

For the Ladies

  • Does vaginal discharge mean I have an STD?

No, not necessarily. Regular vaginal mucus is totally natural and is helpful in keeping the vagina lubricated and protected from infection. When discharge changes color, changes texture or become odorous, then you may be looking at something more serious. The most common STD culprits for abnormal vaginal discharge include Chlamydia and gonorrhea, but almost all sexually transmitted infections have the potential to cause this symptom—way to narrow it down, right? That’s why it’s really important to see your health care provider right away if your experiencing unusual vaginal discharge of any kind.

  • Do I have an STD if I have vaginal dryness?

Nope. Some women are just dryer “down south” and vaginal dryness is not a common symptom of STDs, so your lack of lubrication likely doesn’t mean you have an infection. Sometimes vaginal dryness can come from fear or nervousness before sex and some women just tend to drier than others, but that can be fixed with some simple store-bought lube. Not only does lube make sex go more smoothly, it also helps protect you against STDs. You see, if you’re not naturally wet or using a lubricant when you have sex, the risk of tissue tearing (both in the vagina and the anus) goes up, and these tiny tears can up your chance of contracting an STD if your partner is infected.

For Everyone

  • My pubic hair itches. Do I have an STD?

Maybe. Maybe not. Those uncomfortable-to-have-and-even-more-uncomfortable-to-scratch itches in the pubic area could be caused by several factors. On the STD front, scabies, public lice (aka “crabs”) and herpes are the top offenders. But, your itch may be a whole different situation. Could be razor burn. Could be dry skin. Could be an allergic reaction to a product or lotion. But no matter what, if the itching is prolonged, gets worse or is accompanied by sores or pain, make an appointment with your health care provider or visit a clinic as soon as you can.