What is STD?

STDs can be serious, some are life-threatening, and all are avoidable. Learn the importance of practicing safe sex, how to recognize symptoms of STDs, and what treatments are available.

An STD is a disease you can get by having sex with someone who has one. You do not have to have sexual intercourse to get an STD, either.

You can get STDs from oral sex, anal sex, or from rubbing naked against someone who is infected. STDs include:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts (HPV)
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Syphilis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Crabs, or pubic lice
  • Trichomoniasis

STD and STI are abbreviations for sexually transmitted disease and sexually transmitted infection. STDs and STIs are diseases or infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites that are exchanged from one person to another during sexual contact.

Frequently, an STD will go unnoticed because they commonly do not show any symptoms at all. This is why it is so crucial to get tested if you are sexually active.

STD cases can be tricky; some STDs have many symptoms that overlap other STDs. Other cases tend to mimic other illnesses or diseases, and some STDs have blatant signs and symptoms that make them much more obvious.

Having an symptom of an STD doesn’t necessarily mean you have an STD. The only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STD or STI is to get tested, you cannot rule the possibility out otherwise.

Even when no symptoms are present, complications can arise if an STD/STI is left untreated. Serious health risks can occur, including PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), infertility, organ damage and, if left untreated long enough, death.

Routine testing is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to know your current STD status if you are sexually active since relying solely on whether or not you have symptoms is often inaccurate.

STDs can affect more than just the genitals– they can infect the mouth, throat, upper thighs, anus and even the eye.

Common non-genital STD symptoms in men & women:

  • Pink eye/Conjunctivitis, swollen red eye(s)
  • Infections of the throat and/or mouth
  • Sores or blisters on, in, or around the mouth and lips
  • Rash on palms and soles of the feet
  • Swollen joints
  • Sore throat
  • Chronic flu-like symptoms

Symptoms of STDs sometimes vary between men and women.

Common STD symptoms in men include:

  • Discharge from the penis (penile discharge)
  • Painful urination or ejaculation
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Testicular pain or swelling
  • Rash on penis or genital area
  • Bumps, warts, lesions or sores on or around penis
  • Itching sensation on tip/head of penis
  • Rectal discharge, bleeding or pain

Common STD symptoms in women include:

  • Unusual discharge (can be thicker than usual, frothy, a different color, and/or have an unusual odor)
  • Vaginal itching
  • Bumps, warts, lesions or sores on or around vagina
  • Unusual vaginal odor
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Bumps, rash, warts, lesions or sores on or around genitals
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Rectal discharge, bleeding or pain

Some STDs occur in stages that have corresponding symptoms, others have symptoms that are similar to the flu or other diseases.

STDs that affect the body as a whole often are more serious and have likely moved out of the infection phase and into the disease phase.

They cause symptoms like body and muscle aches, fever, rashes on the body, headaches and dramatic weight loss.

STDs, especially those that are viral, can lead to death when undiagnosed and untreated. If you do not know your current STD health status, or if you have any of these symptoms and are concerned, it is critical to get tested to rule out whether or not you have an STD.

Male STD Warning Signs & Symptoms

Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are characterized by ambiguous or even flu-like symptoms in the early stages, making it difficult to specifically identify a sexually transmitted infection.

For men, especially, a lack of symptoms is not a reliable measure of whether an STD is present.

The symptoms that usually alert men to the presence of an STD are bumps or rashes on the genitals, discharge, discomfort or itching in the penis or testicles, or pain while urinating or ejaculating.

Even a symptomless STD infection can have long-lasting or irreversible effects if left untreated.

Common STD symptoms in men:

  • Being asymptomatic or experiencing no symptoms at all
  • Blisters on or around penis
  • Spots, bumps or lesions on the penis
  • Discharge (clear, white, or yellow)
  • Oozing from the tip of the penis (thick or thin)
  • Painful urination
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Itching on the tip of the penis
  • Rash on the penis, testicles, or groin

Less common STD symptoms in men:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chronic flu-like symptoms
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Swelling of the testicles
  • Swelling of the epididymis (known as Epididymitis)
  • Swelling of the urethra (known as urethritis)
  • Swelling of non-sexual joints (elbow, knee, etc.)
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding (after receiving anal sex)

STD symptoms in men usually take a few days to develop, but can take up to weeks (if there are symptoms at all).

A lack of symptoms is often mistaken for a lack of an STD, but an infection can continue to progress even in the absence of symptoms.

Because men so often don’t show symptoms, the only way to be sure that an STD is not present is to get tested regularly, especially after unprotected sex.

What is jock itch?

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a fungal infection that results from staying in sweat-soaked clothing too long. Fungus thrives in damp, warm locations with little light– and the groin often has all of these conditions.

Technically, jock itch is a ringworm infection found in the groin and on the thighs, as opposed to tinea corporis, which is the ringworm infection that it typically found elsewhere on the body. Ringworm is not a worm at all, as stated above, it is a fungal infection.

Who gets jock itch?

Jock itch occurs most often in athletes, but can affect anyone. Individuals who are the most at-risk for getting jock itch are those who wear tight, sweaty clothing that doesn’t allow for moisture to dry out, as well as obese individuals who are prone to getting jock itch when their sweat is unable to evaporate from skinfolds.

Tinea cruris (jock itch) symptoms

Symptoms of jock itch include:

  • Redness or a reddish-brown rash
  • Itching
  • Peeling or flaking the skin
  • Altered skin color
  • Burning sensation

Activity typically worsens jock itch. Symptoms can affect the groin, thighs, and lower abdomen, but usually the testicles are unaffected.

Is jock itch contagious sexually?

Often men are curious to find out whether or not they can spread jock itch to their partner or to women. The answer is, sometimes jock itch is contagious.

Jock itch is mildly contagious and can be transferred via direct skin-to-skin contact (like during sex) or if someone wears the unclean clothing of an individual who has jock itch.

Jock itch will not be spread to your wife or teammates via contact like high fives and such– the area infected with the fungus has to come into contact with an area with similar moist, dark conditions and it has to stay moist and dark there long enough for it to thrive.

Is it jock itch or herpes?

It can be shocking to have an itching groin, especially when the itch is coming from a red rash that may or may not have peeling and the appearance of blistering on the edges of the rash.

For these reasons, men with jock itch often confuse their condition for genital herpes. Jock itch tends to be more of a rash that may of may not have tiny blisters surrounding parts of its edges, whereas genital herpes blisters are typically fluid- filled and unaccompanied by a rash.

Herpes blisters crust over after bursting and become painful sores, unlike jock itch. A doctor will be able to examine the infection and tell you whether or not it is jock itch or herpes.

How is jock itch treated?

Jock itch is curable with over-the-counter antifungal medications like lotions, powders and creams. It often takes 2-4 weeks to fully get rid of the fungus.

Be sure to thoroughly sanitize any athletic clothing including cups, jock straps and towels. For cases that prove difficult to be rid of with over-the-counter methods, doctors may prescribe antifungal medication in the form of tablets.

What is painful urination?

Painful urination is an abnormal burning or stinging sensation that sometimes occurs while urinating.

The painful, stinging irritation felt during urination is usually caused when urine comes in contact with lesions or sores within the urethra or when urine comes in contact with an inflamed glans (tip of the penis).

Burning or painful urination can be a sign of an STD and is often one of the first noticeable symptoms that an infection is present.

Causes of burning or painful urination that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Yeast infection or urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Kidney stones or an obstruction in the ureters
  • Chemical irritation from lotions or creams
  • Irritation from condoms or lubricants
  • Allergic reaction to soaps or detergents
  • Friction from clothing

Painful urination or a burning feeling when you urinate can be a constant irritation or can occur intermittently when irritants are introduced to the external urethral opening (such as during intercourse or when clothing or other objects come in contact with the area).

Burning can begin suddenly or gradually grow in intensity over a period of time. In some cases, the burning sensation goes away on its own, but in cases where the burning is caused by an STD, medication is required to treat the burning.

An internal burning or painful sensation during urination is usually a sign of a bladder or urinary tract infection or an allergic reaction.

Which STDs cause burning or painful urination?

  • Chlamydia – A sexually transmitted disease that can result in similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection: painful urination and discharge from the penis.
  • Gonorrhea – An STD that can cause discharge to leak from the penis.
  • Mycoplasma genitalium – A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria that affects the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. It can lead to urethritis (swelling and inflammation of the urethra) and result in penile discharge.
  • Genital herpes – Genital herpes can be accompanied by lesions or sores. If urine comes in contact with an ulcer or sore, it can burn.
  • Ureaplasma – An STI, similar to mycoplasma genitalium, that can cause symptoms like penile discharge, the feeling of needing to urinate frequently, and painful or burning urination.
  • Trichomoniasis – Trich is an STD that can cause an irritated or itching sensation inside the penis, burning during urination and/or discharge from the penis.

The bacterial STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia are both associated with painful urination, and chlamydia often occurs simultaneously with gonorrhea in what is called a co-infection. Both infections can be cured when treated with antibiotics, often in a single dose.

Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be sure of the cause of vaginal burning, irritation or a burning sensation while urinating.

Because many STDs don’t show symptoms, an infection could go unnoticed and progress into a more serious condition with long-lasting side effects.

Frequent STD testing is the only way for sexually active women to be completely sure of their STD status and prevent untreated infections.

What are penis bumps?

Bumps or sores on the penis are often the first noticeable sign of an STD for many men. Certain bumps on the penis are normal or non-sexual in nature.

Many men are unaware of normal marks or bumps on their penis and may panic when they are discovered.

Penis pimples that cannot be passed sexually include:

  • Ingrown hairs
  • Infected hair follicles
  • Blocked oil glands
  • Irritation from cosmetic products (shaving cream/body wash)
  • Friction from rubbing against clothing
  • Allergic reaction to soap or lubricant

Which STDs cause penis bumps?

Some penis bumps are caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), known as HSV-2, is the most common sexual cause of bumps on or around the penis.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 both cause genital herpes. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can also cause bumps or sores in the genital region.

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral STI that causes a concave reddened or shiny flesh-toned spot with a sunken in appearance.

It can be difficult to determine the cause of bumps on the penis, which is why getting tested for STDs is so important.

When are penis bumps a sign of herpes?

Genital herpes (caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2) can cause bumps, known as an outbreak, at any time. Genital herpes is a viral infection, meaning the virus is incurable and can lie dormant for years at a time.

When an outbreak does occur, it is usually accompanied by a cluster of small, round bumps that look similar to blisters.

The painful spots are typically filled with clear fluid that oozes when the sores rupture, leaving behind a crusty, reddish rash of bumps. The bumps eventually clear up within weeks.

When are penis bumps a sign of HPV?

HPV can also cause bumps, known as genital warts, on the penis and in the surrounding area (any skin covered by boxer shorts).

Genital warts appear in clusters of painless, flesh-colored bumps. The entire groin area can be affected and, unlike a herpes outbreak, a genital warts outbreak is continuous.

What is penile discharge?

Penile discharge is a condition in which fluid collects in the urethra as a result of a bacterial, viral or yeast infection. The urethra is the tube through which urine and semen leave the penis.

Discharge from the penis can be watery and clear, or opaque and cloudy containing pus and even blood.

Penile discharge can vary a lot: It can be thin, thick and a range of colors from clear to white, yellow, or tinted with blood. It can be hardly noticeable or impossible to ignore. It can be odorless or have an unpleasant odor.

Some causes of penile discharge include urinary tract infections (UTIs) and some STDs.

What causes non-sexual penile discharge?

  • Urinary Tract Infections – Infections that involve the part or parts of the urinary system: bladder, urethra, ureters and/or kidneys. A UTI is accompanied by pain or burning sensation during urination and/or penile discharge.

Which STDs cause penile discharge?

  • Chlamydia – A sexually transmitted disease that can result in similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection: painful urination and discharge from the penis.
  • Gonorrhea – An STD that can cause discharge to leak from the penis. This STD is also known as “The Drip” for this very reason.
  • Trichomoniasis – Trich is an STD that can cause an irritated or itching sensation inside the penis, burning during urination and/or discharge from the penis.
  • Mycoplasma genitalium – A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria that affects the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. It can lead to urethritis (swelling and inflammation of the urethra) and result in penile discharge.
  • Ureaplasma – An STI, similar to mycoplasma genitalium, that can cause symptoms like penile discharge, the feeling of needing to urinate frequently, and painful or burning urination.

When is penile discharge abnormal?

While discharge from the penis is not considered typical or normal for men, cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia are very common, especially in men.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause serious health problems when left untreated, including infertility, so it is important to get tested for any instance of penile discharge.

Like most STD cases, many STDs frequently are not accompanied by any signs or symptoms, so getting tested if you are sexually active is crucial to knowing whether or not you are carrying an infection.

What is a penis rash?

There are multiple conditions that can cause a rash on the penis or in the groin. Rashes are commonly itchy and can be caused by something as simple as an irritation to certain soaps or something as complex as an infection caused by fungus, an STD or pubic lice.

  • Jock Itch – Jock itch is a fungal infection that results from staying in sweat-soaked clothing too long. It occurs most often in athletes, but can affect anyone. Those who wear tight clothing that doesn’t allow for moisture to dry are at risk, as well as obese individuals who are prone to sweating can get jock itch in skinfolds. Symptoms include redness, itching, peeling/flaking skin, rash, altered skin color, and a burning sensation. Activity typically worsens the condition. Symptoms can affect the groin, thighs, and lower abdomen, but usually the testicles are unaffected.
  • Yeast Infection – An overgrowth of fungus, also known as candidiasis, that causes a red rash on the penis and itching and/or burning on the tip of the penis; it is more common in uncircumcised men.
  • Balanitis – Swelling of the tip/head or foreskin of the penis. Like male yeast infections, balanitis is more common in uncircumcised men. It is a painful condition that is usually caused by poor hygiene. Bacterial overgrowth in the area results in an infection. Irritation that can cause balanitis include scented or perfumed soaps, lotions or sprays, bar soap that dries out the skin and/or not fully rinsing soap off while showering.
  • Contact Dermatitis – A condition that causes itchy, red, irritated skin that occurs after using a new detergent, soap, or skincare product. It can resemble a burn, and is sometimes caused by latex gloves or condoms, jewelry, chemicals in cosmetics, and poison oak or ivy.
  • Razor burn or razor bumps – Small, irritated red bumps that pop up due to trapped bacteria or ingrown hairs. Razor bumps can occur on or near the genitals after shaving.
  • Psoriasis – Bright red, shiny patches on the penis and/or genitals. It typically is not scaly or flaking when it occurs in the genital region due to the area being well-covered, so it retains more moisture than other parts of the body.

Which STDs can cause a penis rash?

Scabies are mites that can be passed from close contact with an infected individual, including sexual contact.

The mite bites leave red itchy spots that resemble a rash on many parts of the body, including the groin and genitals.

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, can leave red dotted spots that look like a rash. It is caused by the lice bites, and sometimes the lice themselves can be seen in the groin.

The secondary stage of syphilis includes a non-itchy rash that can occur on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It can also cause gray to white rash-like patches in the groin, inner thighs, and armpits.

Like the chancre of the primary stage of syphilis, the second stage’s rash will go away on it’s own, but the bacteria is still in the body and will progress to the more serious (and potentially deadly) later stages.

Just because a rash is present does not mean that you have an STD, but since some STDs do not display any symptoms at all, it is important to get tested to know your status.

What are penis spots?

Worry tends to accompany the discovery of new spots when they’re on the penis. Knowing whether or not they are cause for concern can cause a scare.

Different types of common penile spots include:

  • Warts – Flesh-colored growths that usually appear in groups or clusters. They are not painful, but are highly contagious.
  • Red ulcers, no pain – An open sore that is essentially a break or hole in the skin, also known as a chancre.
  • Blisters or lesions – Red, fluid-filled sacks or spots that appear in groups or clusters. They are a painful symptom of genital herpes. Once they burst, these spots become red and crust over.
  • Raised itchy bumps – Mites that can be passed from close contact with an infected individual, including sexual contact. These mites bite, leaving red itchy spots behind on many parts of the body, including the groin and genitals.
  • Concave bump – A reddened or shiny flesh-toned spot that is concave or sunken in is a distinctive characteristic of molluscum contagiosum. It can be spread during intimate or sexual contact.
  • Hirsutoid papillomas (Pearly penile papules) – Flesh-colored papules that are spiny in shape. They often are found in a ring around the sulcus coronarius (the edge of the head of the penis just above the shaft). They are benign, harmless, and don’t disappear, but are not an STD and are not contagious.

Which STDs cause penis spots?

Syphilis causes a chancre or ulcer at the site of infection that disappears on its own in weeks. However, while the chancre goes away, the bacteria is still inside you and needs to be treated or it will progress into more serious stages of the disease.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is the cause of genital warts, which are painless flesh-colored warts that occur in clusters on the penis and in the genital region (the area covered by boxer shorts).

Is it a pimple or an STD?

Penis pimples can be caused by many conditions, not all of which are STDs. Learn the various types of pimples or bumps that can form on or around the penis.

STD signs that get confused for penis pimples:

Some signs and symptoms of STDs can be mistaken for just being a pimple or ingrown hair at first. It isn’t until symptoms escalate that individuals realize that there is more going on down there than a zit or two.

Because it is difficult to inspect the area by oneself, signs of an STD may go unnoticed or ignored. Genital herpes outbreaks cause cluster-like patches of blisters to occur that can be confused for pimples or acne.

Certain strains of HPV, human papillomavirus, can cause genital warts in the groin area. These warts are often first thought to be pimples by many patients. Other STDs can cause rashes, sores or lesions.

What are penis pimples?

Bumps and pimple-like lumps on the genitals, whether singular or a few, tend to cause alarm. Do not freak out until you know what it is, because it (or they) could be harmless. Skin problems are common, and skin problems on the genitals are no exception.

Types of pimples or pimple-like bumps that may affect the penis:

  • Pimples – Pus-filled white bumps that can that occur when bacteria that is commonly found on the body infect the area.
  • Folliculitis – A condition caused when hair follicles become infected, resulting in inflamed pimples. Sebaceous cysts are yellowish pimple or bumps that are caused by blocked or clogged oil glands. They typically go away on their own without medical care.
  • Hirsutoid papillomas (Pearly penile papules) – Flesh-colored papules that are spiny in shape. They often are found in a ring around the sulcus coronarius (the edge of the head of the penis just above the shaft). They are benign, harmless, and don’t disappear, but are not the result of an STD or contagious.
  • Razor burn (Razor bumps) – Small, irritated red bumps that pop up due to bacteria or ingrown hairs on or near the genitals after shaving.
  • Staph infections – While the staph bacteria (Staphylococcus) is carried by about 25 percent of people and lives on the body, a genital staph infection is a rare occurrence. Tiny nicks or cuts caused by razors allow the bacteria to enter the body, causing a pus-filled boil to form. Staph is a contagious infection, but is not an STD. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary as staph can spread and cause serious health problems (including death).

What should you do if you find a penis pimple?

There are many types of penis pimples and bumps, but they all have one thing in common: they should not be popped or squeezed.

Popping a pimple on your penis can lead to infection or scarring. It’s important to keep the penis pimple and the surrounding area clean and dry, but avoid scrubbing or using harsh cleansers that can cause irritation.

If the pimple doesn’t go away or show signs of being infected, visit a doctor or dermatologist for treatment.

Penis pimples can be caused by many conditions, not all of which are STDs. Learn the various types of pimples or bumps that can form on or around the penis.

What is a testicle lump?

Lumps feel like unusual 3-D masses within the testicle or testicles. When paired with other symptoms like swelling, pain and redness, an infection may be the culprit.

If the testicular lump is the only sign present, the cause may be injury, inflammation or a mass formation.

  • Inguinal hernias occur when a portion of the intestines pushes through a gap or weakened area of tissue that separates the abdomen and inguinal region (groin). These hernias might look like a mass or lump in either the scrotum or higher up in the groin and can cause swelling of the testicles.
  • Testicular cancer presents itself as tumors. These lumps of abnormal testicular tissue can usually be felt in the scrotum, and can occasionally cause pain and/or swelling. It is a rare condition that typically affects younger men, and occurs most often in men ages 15-35.
  • Hydrocele is a condition in which excess fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of the sac that surrounds each testicle. It can cause pain, redness and swelling, and is typically caused by either an injury or infection.
  • Varicoceles are enlarged veins that run alongside the spermatic cord in the scrotum. It is usually a painless condition, but over time it can cause impaired sperm production or, in rare cases, infertility since the widened vein(s) press against the spermatic cord.
  • Spermatoceles – Cysts that form on the epididymis. They are benign fluid-filled sacs that are typically painless unless infected.

Because some of these conditions could be very serious, it is critical to go get any testicular lump or lumps checked out by a physician. In the case of testicular cancer, early discovery greatly helps the rate of treatment and ability to cure.

What is testicle pain?

Pain in one or both of the testicles can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, an injury, a hernia, or a twisted testicular sac (testicular torsion), cysts, cancer, or a condition called hydrocele.

  • Orchitis – A condition, caused by one of many types of bacteria or viruses, in which one or both of the testicles are inflamed; can cause inflammation of the epididymis.
  • Epididymitis – Inflammation of the epididymis (the tube along the back of the testicle that carries and stores sperm). Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause epididymitis.
  • Injuries to the testicles can lead to pain and swelling of this sensitive area.
  • Inguinal hernias occur when a portion of the intestines pushes through a gap or weakened area of tissue that separates the abdomen and groin region. These hernias might look like a mass or lump in either the scrotum or higher up in the groin.
  • Testicular torsion is a painful condition in which the testicular sac becomes twisted or rotated, causing the blood flow from the spermatic cord to be cut off. Seek medical attention immediately, as the lack of blood flow and can quickly cause severe damage that might lead to removal of the testicle(s).
  • Spermatoceles – Cysts that form on the epididymis. They are benign fluid-filled sacs that are typically painless unless infected.
  • Testicular cancer presents itself as tumors. These lumps of abnormal testicular tissue can usually be felt in the scrotum, and can occasionally cause pain and/or swelling.
  • Hydrocele is a condition in which excess fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of the sac that surrounds each testicle. It can cause pain, redness and swelling and is typically caused by either an injury or infection.

Some of these conditions are very serious, so if you are experiencing pain in the testicles, seek emergency medical care.

Even if there is no pain accompanying any of these scrotal masses or conditions, it is important to get examined (and treated if necessary) by a doctor to rule out cancer or to avoid complications of regular testicular function.

What is testicle swelling?

In cases of swollen testicles, many sexually active men assume it is a symptom of an STD. There are multiple reasons why the testicles may become swollen or inflamed.

The causes of infectious and noninfectious causes of inflamed testicles include:

  • Orchitis – A condition, caused by one of many types of bacteria or viruses, in which one or both of the testicles are inflamed; can cause inflammation of the epididymis.
  • Epididymitis – Inflammation of the epididymis (the tube along the back of the testicle that carries and stores sperm). Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause epididymitis.
  • Injuries – Testicle injuries can lead to pain and swelling.
  • Inguinal hernia – A condition in which a portion of the intestines pushes through a gap or weakened area of tissue that separates the abdomen and inguinal region (groin). These hernias might look like a mass or lump in either the scrotum or higher up in the groin and can cause swelling of the testicles.
  • Testicular torsion – A painful condition in which the testicular sac becomes twisted or rotated, causing the blood flow from the spermatic cord to be cut off. Seek medical attention immediately, as the lack of blood flow and can quickly cause severe damage that might lead to the testicle(s) needed to be removed.
  • Spermatoceles – Cysts that form on the epididymis. They are benign fluid-filled sacs that are typically painless unless infected.
  • Testicular cancer presents itself as tumors. These lumps of abnormal testicular tissue can usually be felt in the scrotum, and can occasionally cause pain and/or swelling.
  • Hydrocele – A condition in which excess fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of the sac that surrounds each testicle. It can cause pain, redness and swelling and is typically caused by either an injury or infection.
  • Varicoceles – Enlarged veins that run alongside the spermatic cord in the scrotum. Often a varicocele is painless with no symptoms, but overtime it can cause impaired sperm production or, in rare cases, infertility since the widened vein(s) press against the spermatic cord.

Some of these conditions are very serious, so if you are experiencing pain or swelling in the testicles, seek emergency medical care.

Even if there is no pain accompanying one or both swollen testicles, it is important to get examined (and treated if necessary) by a doctor to rule out cancer or to avoid complications of regular testicular function or the loss of one or both testicles.

Which STDs cause testicle swelling?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are most commonly associated with testicle swelling, as well as a host of other symptoms.

Chlamydia is the most commonly transmitted STD and is often a “co-infection” with gonorrhea.

Both infections are easily treated with antibiotics and can even be treated with a single dose if the infections are caught early.

An overview & list of STD symptoms in women

Most STDs don’t produce symptoms or, if they do, result in vague or generic flu-like symptoms that could be the result of many different conditions.

It can be difficult to determine the cause of symptoms due to an STD without getting tested. Women are more likely than men to suffer symptoms such as bumps, itching, or burning urination due to a sexually transmitted disease/infection, especially in the genital region.

Without those first noticeable signs of an STD, infections often go unnoticed and untreated, which can cause long-lasting or even irreversible effects if left untreated.

Common STD symptoms in women:

  • No symptoms
  • Discharge (thick or thin, milky white, yellow, or green leakage from the vagina)
  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal blisters or blisters in the genital area (the region covered by underwear)
  • Vaginal rash or rash in the genital area
  • Burning urination
  • Painful urination
  • Pain during intercourse

Less common STD symptoms in women:

  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual cycles
  • Painless ulcers on the vagina
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Sore throat (after oral sex)
  • Swelling of the joints (knee, elbow, etc.)
  • Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge (after receiving anal sex)

When symptoms do occur, they typically appear within days or weeks of exposure to an STD. Often, symptoms never appear or go unnoticed.

Even if an infection never results in obvious symptoms, the STD can still be transmitted and progress into a more serious condition that may result in irreversible side effects.

Regular comprehensive STD testing is the only way to guarantee a clean bill of sexual health. It is especially important to get tested for STDs after risky or unprotected sexual contact.

What are vaginal bumps?

Vaginal bumps are the first noticeable sign of an STD for many women. Not all bumps on the vagina are abnormal; women who aren’t intimately acquainted with the skin in their genital region may discover bumps that have always been there and become alarmed.

Vaginal bumps that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Infected hair follicles
  • Infected oil glands
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Aggravated pores due to shaving
  • Friction with clothing
  • Allergic reactions to soaps, lotions, or lubricants
  • Medications

When are vaginal bumps abnormal?

STDs can cause bumps, sores, pimples, or lesions in or around the vagina. Bumps that are caused by STDs may or may not be painful or itchy.

Bumps that appear in the genital area within a few days to a few weeks of sexual contact are likely caused by an STD.

Taking a comprehensive STD test is the only way to be sure of the cause of STD-related vaginal bumps.

Which STDs cause vaginal bumps?

Genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and molluscum contagiosum can all cause various types of bumps on the vagina. Genital herpes and HPV are incurable diseases.

Genital herpes may not cause an outbreak when the disease is initially contracted and can lie dormant for years before an outbreak occurs, so it is easy to be unaware of the infection.

An outbreak of genital herpes is accompanied by clusters of small, painful round bumps on the external portions of the vagina, such as the vulva and labia, as well as the inside of the vagina.

Herpes sores are filled with a clear fluid that eventually oozes out of the sores before they heal on their own. The sores can sometimes be mistaken for syphilis sores, which is why getting tested is the only way to be sure of a genital herpes infection.

Genital herpes can be caused by either the HSV-1 or HSV-2 strain of the herpes virus. Outbreaks of genital herpes are a lifelong concern, but steps can be taken to prevent outbreaks once a genital herpes infection is confirmed.

HPV is associated with small bumps, known as genital warts, on the vagina and groin area. The painless, flesh-colored warts are typically small and grow in clusters.

Genital warts are persistent and do not clear up on their own like genital herpes. HPV is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer, but can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus, and throat.

While there is no treatment for HPV, the abnormal cell changes caused by high-risk types of HPV can be treated to prevent the progression of precancerous cells.

Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be sure of the cause of vaginal bumps. Sexually active women should get tested regularly to eliminate the risk of an undetected infection.

Many STDs are symptomless and can progress into very serious conditions with life-threatening side effects if left untreated.

What is vaginal burning and painful urination?

Vaginal burning is an abnormal burning or stinging irritation that sometimes occurs during urination.

The stinging or burning during urination is usually caused when urine comes in contact with vaginal lesions or areas of the genital region, such as the vulva or labia, that are inflamed.

Vaginal burning or painful urination can also be signs of an STD and are often the first noticeable sign that an infection is present.

Causes of vaginal burning or burning urination that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Yeast infection or urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Chemical irritation from douches or creams
  • Irritation from condoms and other contraceptives/lubricants
  • Allergic reaction to soaps or detergents or feminine products
  • Friction from toilet paper

Vaginal burning or a burning feeling when you urinate can be a constant irritation or can occur intermittently when irritants are introduced to the vaginal region (such as during intercourse or when clothing or other objects come in contact with the area).

Burning can begin suddenly or gradually grow in intensity over a period of time. In some cases, vaginal burning goes away on its own, but in cases where the burning is caused by an STD, medication is required to treat the burning.

An internal burning or painful sensation during urination is usually a sign of a bladder or urinary tract infection or an allergic reaction.

Non-sexual causes are the same as external burning, but can also include trauma to the vagina. In rare cases, an allergic reaction to semen can cause internal vaginal burning.

Which STDs cause vaginal burning?

Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), known as genital herpes, is the most common STD associated with vaginal burning.

An outbreak of genital herpes causes clusters of small, painful bumps that eventually burst and ooze a clear fluid.

While most outbreaks include bumps on the external vaginal area, lesions can also form inside the vagina, where they may go unnoticed.

The external lesions may become painful when urine, skin, or clothing come in contact with the bumps, while internal lesions may cause a burning pain during intercourse or when a tampon is inserted.

Trichomoniasis, an STD caused by a protozoan parasite, can cause irritation and inflammation of the vaginal skin, which in turn can cause vaginal burning.

The bacterial STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia are both associated with vaginal burning.

Chlamydia is the most commonly occurring STD among women and often occurs simultaneously with gonorrhea in what is called a “co-infection.”

Both infections can be cured when treated with antibiotics, often in a single dose.

Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be sure of the cause of vaginal burning, irritation or a burning sensation while urinating.

Because many STDs don’t show symptoms, an infection could go unnoticed and progress into a more serious condition with long-lasting side effects.

Frequent STD testing is the only way for sexually active women to be completely sure of their STD status and prevent untreated infections.

What is vaginal discharge?

Discharge is a normal vaginal function that sweeps dead cells and bacteria out of the vagina when fluid is released from the glands inside the vagina and cervix.

Discharge can also be a sign of imbalance in the vagina due to a number of conditions, both sexual and non-sexual.

Causes of discharge that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Antibiotics
  • Birth control
  • Cervical cancer
  • Irritation due to douching
  • Allergic reaction to scented lotions or soaps
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Yeast infections

Discharge that is abnormal in color and texture or is accompanied by an unusual odor is a sign of an sexually transmitted disease.

Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are non-sexual conditions that occur in many women when the normal bacteria or fungal levels, respectively, become unbalanced. Both conditions can cause vaginal discharge, odor, and itching, and require treatment.

When is vaginal discharge abnormal?

If a sexually transmitted disease is the cause of discharge, it is due to bacteria, fungi, or other intruders that cause inflammation in the vagina, cervix, or urinary tract. The cause of the discharge is what determines the color, texture, and odor.

Discharge can be:

  • Thin and watery
  • Thick and viscous
  • Gummy or cottage cheese-like texture
  • Milky or grayish white
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Bloody
  • Odorless
  • “Fishy” smelling

Which STDs cause vaginal discharge?

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the STDs most commonly associated with vaginal discharge, especially bloody discharge.

Chlamydia is the most common STD among women and gonorrhea often occurs with chlamydia in what is known as a co-infection.

Both are easily treated by antibiotics (a single dose if caught early enough), but can cause very serious long-term side effects if left untreated.

Trichomoniasis, an STD caused by a protozoan parasite, is also commonly associated with vaginal discharge with a strong, unpleasant odor.

Getting tested is the first step in determining whether an STD is the cause of vaginal discharge. Frequent STD testing also prevents the progression of STDs that may be present but not showing symptoms.

What is vaginal itching?

Vaginal itching is an abnormal, uncomfortable itching sensation in and around the vagina.

Causes of vaginal itching that cannot be passed sexually:

  • Yeast infection
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Allergic reaction to soaps or detergents
  • Friction from tampons or feminine pads
  • Medications or lubricants
  • Lotions or feminine hygiene products
  • Friction from clothing

Yeast infections are accompanied by a chunky white discharge (with a cottage cheese-like appearance). Both yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be treated with medication.

Vaginal itching can also signify an STD and is often the first noticeable a symptom of an infection. Getting tested for STDs can quickly identify the cause of vaginal itching due to an STD.

Which STDs cause vaginal itching?

Trichomoniasis, known as trich, is most commonly associated with vaginal itching. The protozoan parasite that causes trich also causes the inflammation that contributes to the itching sensation.

Genital herpes (usually caused by HSV-2) can also cause itching if an outbreak is present. During an outbreak of genital herpes, clusters of small, painful lesions appear before rupturing and oozing clear fluid.

The bumps clear up on their own, but can cause itching and irritation, especially during the process of healing.

Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be completely sure of the cause of vaginal itching. Sexually active women should get tested regularly because many STDs do not cause symptoms and, therefore, go untreated.

What is unusual vaginal odor?

Similar to vaginal discharge, vaginal odor is normal until it changes. These changes are considered abnormal or unusual because they are typically negative changes.

For instance, all vaginas have a natural scent, but if the vagina’s usual odor becomes unpleasant or smelly, it is an indicator that something is wrong.

Typically, unusual vaginal odor stems from vaginal discharge that is being caused by some sort of infection. It is rarely the only symptom that something is not right.

It may seem like a good idea to use feminine sprays or washes to get rid of the odor or mask it, but typically these products irritate this sensitive area which can make symptoms worse.

Common causes of unusual or abnormal vaginal odor:

  • Menstrual cycle
  • Poor or inadequate hygiene
  • Trichomoniasis (an STD caused by parasitic protozoans)
  • Irritation due to douching
  • A forgotten tampon that was left in for too long
  • Allergic reaction to scented lotions or soaps
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV) or vaginitis
  • Yeast infections

Less common causes of unusual or abnormal vaginal odor:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Rectovaginal fistula (a serious condition in which there is a tear between the rectum and vagina. This can allows feces and gas to leak into the vagina, causing the odor.)

Vaginal odor may be:

  • “Fishy” smelling
  • Unpleasant smelling

Which STDs can cause vaginal odor?

Typically the same ones that cause abnormal discharge: Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the STDs most commonly associated with vaginal discharge, especially bloody discharge.

Chlamydia is the most common STD among women, and gonorrhea often occurs with chlamydia in what is known as a co-infection.

Both are easily treated by antibiotics (a single dose if caught early enough), but can cause very serious long-term side effects if left untreated.

Trichomoniasis, an STD caused by a protozoan parasite, is also commonly associated with vaginal discharge with a strong, unpleasant odor.

Getting tested is the first step in determining whether an STD is the cause of abnormal or unusual vaginal odor. Frequent STD testing also prevents the progression of STDs that may be present, but not showing symptoms.