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Sexually Transmitted Diseases (cont.)

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Symptoms and Signs

Common STDs have a variety of symptoms (if symptoms develop at all) and many different complications, including death.

Symptoms of STDs caused by bacteria

Chancroid Symptoms

  • Are not common in the United States but common in developing countries.
  • Symptoms include painful ulcers on the genitals.
  • Can be confused with syphilis or herpes
  • Is treatable with antibiotics

Chlamydia symptoms

  • Most common of all STDs caused by bacteria.
  • Cause no symptoms in about 80% of women and 50% of men
  • When symptoms are present, commonly there is discharge from the vagina or the penis, and burning or pain during urination.
  • Is transmitted through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual contact
  • Ectopic pregnancy and infertility for women are potential serious complications.
  • Is treatable with antibiotics

Gonorrhea symptoms

  • Discharge from the vagina or the penis
  • Over 50% of infected women have no symptoms, but they can still transmit the disease to others.
  • Painful urination
  • Ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility for women, Fitzhugh-Curtis syndrome (perihepatitis) and death are potential serious complications.
  • Is treatable with antibiotics, but many strains are becoming resistant to most antibiotics.

Granuloma inguinale (donovanosis) symptoms

  • Not common in the U.S.
  • Symptoms are painless genital ulcers in the groin area.
  • Is treatable with antibiotics, usually for three or more weeks

Lymphogranuloma venereum

  • Not common in the U.S.
  • Symptoms are abscesses (buboes) in the groin, rectum or other areas; fistulas that drain pus may occur and are treatable with antibiotics.
  • This disease is treated with antibiotics.


  • Symptoms are mild and often go undetected initially
  • Starts with a painless genital ulcer that goes away on its own
  • Rash, fever, headache, achy joints
  • Is treatable with antibiotics
  • More serious complications associated with later stages of the disease if undetected and untreated

Symptoms of STDs caused by viruses

Genital herpes

  • Recurring outbreaks of blister-like sores on the genitals
  • Can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during birth
  • Reduction in frequency and severity of blister outbreaks with treatment but not complete elimination of infection.
  • Can be transmitted by a partner who has herpes even if no blisters are present.

Genital warts

  • Caused by a virus related to skin warts, human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Small, painless bumps in the genital or anal areas (sometimes in large clusters that look like cauliflower)
  • Various treatments available (for example, freezing or painting the warts with medication)
  • Vaccines are available against the most common types of HPV


  • Hepatitis B and D are most often associated with sexual contact, hepatitis A, C, E are less frequently transmitted by sexual contact.
  • Both may be transmitted via contact with blood; for hepatitis B, sexual transmission is believed to be responsible for 30% of the cases worldwide.
  • The hepatitis B virus can cause both an initial (acute) and a chronic form of liver inflammation. Only 50% of acute infections with the hepatitis B virus produce symptoms. The initial phase of infection lasts a few weeks, and in most people (90% to 95%), the infection clears.
  • Acute infection can cause yellowish skin and eyes, fever, achy, tired (flu-like symptoms).
  • Severe complications in some people, including cirrhosis and liver cancer may occur in a small percent of individuals infected with HBV.
  • Treatments are available and remission is possible with some aggressive medications.
  • Immunizations are available to prevent hepatitis B.


  • Spread primarily by sexual contact and from sharing IV needles
  • Can be transmitted at the time a person becomes infected with other STDs
  • No specific symptoms or physical signs confirm HIV infection.
  • The average time from infection to the development of symptoms related to immunosuppression (decreased functioning of the immune system) is 10 years.
  • The following symptoms may occur a few weeks after contracting the virus initially (acute retroviral syndrome, acute HIV infection):
  • Serious complications of AIDS include unusual infections or cancers, weight loss, intellectual deterioration (dementia), and death.
  • No current cure but medications are available to slow disease progression and make it a chronic, manageable disease.

Molluscum contagiosum

  • Small (2 to 5mm) raised areas (papules) on the skin
  • Contagious, usually by direct skin to skin contact
  • Self-limited over months to years; treated with some topical creams
  • Often cryotherapy (freezing) or surgical removal is performed
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/29/2016

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