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First Symptoms of STDs in Men

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Getting tested is not only quick and easy, it’s the only way to know for sure if you do or do not have an STD.

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Millions of men around the world have a sexually transmitted disease, or STD. STDs come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Today, we’re explaining the first symptoms of STDs in men. If you notice the symptoms listed below, then you may want to visit a doctor or sexual health clinic to get checked.

The First Signs and Symptoms of STDs in Men

STD symptoms can be confusing. Some of the world’s most common STDs have similar symptoms. You might walk into a sexual health clinic thinking you have syphilis, when in reality, you have a treatable case of chlamydia.

In general, if you notice anything unusual about your genitals, anus, or mouth after unprotected sex, then it’s a good idea to get checked. With that in mind, here are some of the first signs and symptoms of STDs in men:

  • Blisters on or around the penis
  • Spots, bumps, lesions, or other unusual markings on or around the penis
  • Unusual discharge from the penis (clear, white, or yellow discharge, for example)
  • Painful urination or ejaculation
  • Oozing from the tip of the penis (thick or thin liquids)
  • Itching on the tip of the penis
  • Rash or unusual markings on the penis, testicles, or groin

If you notice any of the above symptoms, then these can be the first signs of an STD.

Of course, not all STDs come from unprotected sex. You can get oral herpes by sharing someone’s cup, for example. Other STDs are passed by the mother to the child during vaginal childbirth. Some people get an STD before they ever have sex. Others get an STD after years of a monogamous relationship.

It’s also important to remember that many STDs come with no visible symptoms. These STDs can lie dormant for weeks, months, or even years. You might have totally forgotten about a specific sexual encounter. Unfortunately, the virus was slowly multiplying inside your body, and it’s only a matter of time before symptoms start to appear.

How Are STDs Transmitted?

A sexually transmitted disease is typically transmitted through sexual contact. If you recently had unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex, then you may have contracted an STD. It only takes one bit of infected skin to touch one bit of unprotected skin for an infection to take place.

However, not all STDs come through sexual contact. Many STDs, including hepatitis, can be transmitted without sexual contact – say, by coming into contact with an infected person’s blood.

There are also certain diseases that can only be spread through sexual contact. Gonorrhea can only be spread through sexual contact for example.

Meanwhile, oral herpes can be spread through oral sex or through other methods of transmission. If you came into contact with an infected person’s saliva, then you may have oral herpes, for example. That contact can occur when sharing a glass, making out, or engaging in oral sex.

General Symptoms of STDs in Men

Typically, men will experience STD symptoms within a few days of contracting the infection. However, some STDs – particularly hepatitis and similar infections – can take months or even years to show symptoms.

Many men mistake a lack of symptoms for a lack of an STD. However, infections can continue to progress even in the absence of symptoms.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most and least common STD symptoms in men:

Most common symptoms of STDs in men:

  • Blisters, spots, bumps, or lesions on or around your penis
  • Painful urination or ejaculation
  • Oozing or discharge from the tip of your penis, particularly discharge with an unusual odor or color
  • Itching on the tip of the penis or other parts of your genitals
  • Rash on the penis, testicles, or groin

Less common STD symptoms in men:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chronic tiredness, or a general feeling of fatigue
  • Chronic flu-like symptoms
  • Pain in the testicles
  • Swelling of the testicles
  • Swelling of the epididymis (interior of your scrotum)
  • Swelling of the urethra (urethritis)
  • Sore joints, or swelling in non-sexual parts of your body
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding (after receiving anal sex)

What to Do If You Think You Have an STD

If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms listed above, then you may have an STD or sexually transmitted infection (STI). Visit your doctor or a local sexual health clinic for STI screening. A medical professional will be able to identify the infection and recommend treatment options.

The good news about most STDs is that they’re treatable. Many STDs can be cured completely. Diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated with as little as one cycle of antibiotics, for example.

Other STDs may not be curable – but doctors can provide antiviral medication to manage symptoms.

Doctors can also recommend at-home treatment options to help manage your symptoms. Ibuprofen is a popular at-home treatment option for STDs related to swelling or soreness, for example.

Ultimately, before you can understand treatment options, you’ll need to get a diagnosis from a medical professional. Some doctors can diagnose an STD with a brief physical examination. In other cases, doctors may request a blood sample to test for the presence of antibodies. They may also swab the infected area of your body.

Frequently Asked Questions About STDs in Men

Take Charge of Your Health

Getting tested is not only quick and easy, it’s the only way to know for sure if you do or do not have an STD.

Get Started Here

Can I still get an STD if I’m wearing a condom? Absolutely. If unprotected skin makes contact with an infected area, you can still get an STD. Condoms and other barriers are not a 100% protective measure against sexually transmitted diseases.

Do men and women get the same STDs? Most STDs target both genders. However, transmission rates vary based on the type of sexual intercourse. Men who have sex with other men (MSM), for example, often have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases. Certain STDs also have different symptoms in men and women. Women with hepatitis, for example, tend to experience reduced liver damage compared to men.

Can I test myself for STDs at home? Visit your doctor or a local sexual health clinic to get tested for STDs. You might find at-home testing kits available to order online. However, for the most accurate and trustworthy results, visit a healthcare provider in your area.

About Monica Silva

Monica Silva graduated from University of Michigan School of Public Health studying health behavior and health education. She is passionate about improving access to sexual and reproductive health care, and addressing gender-based violence. She was involved in reproductive health advocacy and the creation of Youth Friendly Pharmacies that provide a wide spectrum of sexual and reproductive health services.

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