Anytime you sit down to pee and start to feel a burning sensation your mind is likely to race—maybe it's just a UTI, or another yeast infection? But, sit there long enough, and it's easy to run the worst-case scenario: “do I have an STD?”
The truth is, except with certain serious symptoms, it's difficult to accurately self-diagnose whether that fiery feeling is an STI without a Lab Test. Below we’ll discuss common symptoms for STDs in women and what you must know in order to take the safe and appropriate steps to curing “the burn,” or whatever else is bothering you.
What Are Some Common STD Symptoms?
Generally speaking, there are many types of STIs that present a wide range of both interior and exterior symptoms. Sometimes, the signs and symptoms of common STIs are barely noticeable and are sometimes ignored as a result. But whether you are experiencing a small BV infection or a mild case of Gonorrhea, failure to treat your symptoms can lead to long term health risks, like infertility.
While the only accurate way to verify you have an STI is to get an STI screening from a lab, there are common signals your body may give you to tell you that you have an STI. Some symptoms of STDs in women include:
- Vaginal itching
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain or burning during or after sexual intercourse
- Unusual vaginal discharge
These symptoms are among the most widely reported, which indicate you have acquired an STI. While these are some of the most general symptoms of sexually transmitted infections, there may be another underlying cause that's not STI-related. Bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and urinary tract infections can also cause some of these same symptoms, so it's important to talk to a doctor if you notice anything out of the norm for you.
If you think you have an STI, there is no reason to panic. Most STIs are completely treatable, and in many cases, curable. Here are some common STIs and the symptoms you should keep an eye out for:
HPV is the most common STI in the United States. In fact, it's so common that nearly everyone who is sexually active will have HPV at some point in their lives. There are more than 40 different types of HPV, which all spread through sexual contact. You can get HPV through skin-to-skin contact and vaginal, anal or oral sex. Most types of HPV don't have symptoms and don't affect your health, and your body can generally clear these types on its own.
Not all forms of HPV are completely harmless, however. Some can lead to cervical and oral cancers if left untreated and unmonitored. The HPV type that causes genital warts can be easily controlled with several treatment options. Many of the types of HPV come without symptoms, but if you have the type that causes genital warts, you might have small, raised papules or lesions in the genital area.
Genital herpes is the infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, a family of viruses with many different strains. The most common viruses that cause genital herpes and cold sores are the herpes simplex-1 and herpes simplex-2 viruses. This STI is another very common one, but with the social stigma surrounding open discussions of this disease, there are many misconceptions.
For starters, herpes is an extremely common STI, and many individuals with HSV don't even realize they have it. It's easily controllable and many individuals exposed to herpes will only experience a few outbreaks in their lifetime. Another reason many humans don’t know they have herpes is because herpes is not included in a normal sexual health screening. Typically, when an individual is infected with the herpes virus, they experience an initial outbreak, marked by these common herpes symptoms:
- Small red bumps or white blisters in the genital area that appear a few days to a few weeks after initial infection.
- Swollen lymph glands in the groin or pelvic area, throat and armpits.
- Fever, chills, headache, soreness or discomfort in your pelvic area.
Remember that not all individuals who have genital herpes will experience these symptoms. However, if you feel you have been exposed to herpes, Wisp can help you find the best suppressive herpes treatment options, such as valacyclovir or acyclovir, which can prevent future outbreaks and transmission to loved ones.
Chlamydia is an extremely common STI, caused by chlamydia trachomatis bacteria, that is (you guessed it) transmitted through sexual contact. And while it doesn't usually present any scary symptoms, there are some telltale signs of infection, like:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge—with or without a strong odor
- Burning or discomfort during urination
- Pain during sex
Lab tests are required to accurately diagnose chlamydia before beginning antibiotic treatment. The good news about chlamydia is that it's totally curable. Because it's a bacterial infection, it will clear out of your body with a full course of antibiotics. If you receive a diagnosis, you can take advantage of Wisp’s online STI treatment—or get some advice on what to do next if you've been diagnosed with chlamydia.
Gonorrhea is caused by the neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria—which in latin probably means “I love your urethra.” Maybe not, but the urethra is the most common infection site of this STI, both for women and men. While many gonorrhea infections show only slight symptoms, here are several things you can watch for:
- Discomfort or burning sensation during urination
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- A noticeable change in vaginal discharge
Gonorrhea is completely curable and has several safe treatment options. And just like all STIs, a lab test is the only way to know for certain if you have a gonorrhea infection. If you're diagnosed with gonorrhea, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic called cefixime, which will get you back to your normal life in no time.
The trichomoniasis infection is caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. While both men and women can get trichomoniasis, or "trich" for short, this STI is most common in women. The symptoms may vary, and are often mistaken for Bacterial Vaginosis, but the most common signs of trich in women include:
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain or burning during sex
- A change in the color and smell of discharge
Since many humans with trich will experience mild symptoms, it can easily spread among partners who have unprotected sex. If trichomoniasis goes untreated, it can cause serious health complications down the road. The great news is that trich is 100% treatable. A doctor will prescribe you metronidazole or tinidazole, which are oral antibiotics. These antibiotics are also completely safe for pregnant women.
While it can be frustrating and stressful to find out you have an STI, it doesn't mean the end of having fun and enjoying life. Many common STIs, and other vaginal infections, are highly treatable—and some are even curable. Don't ignore your symptoms, speak with a Wisp doctor to order your STI screening and begin STI treatment as soon as your first symptoms appear. You'll be happy you did—now your mind can relax while you're on the toilet!