5 Signs You Need to Get Tested for an STI

Last updated: July 16, 2019

Contributed by:
Richard Honaker M.D.
Primary Care Physician
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Talking about sex with your doctor isn’t always easy. Check out signs you may have contracted an STI 


Nothing can quite kill the romance like talking about sexually transmitted infections (STI), yet we need to start.

According to the CDC, over 2.2 million people reported contracting an STI in the US in 2017. While that may not seem like a huge number, the truth is many STIs go undetected for years, and the side effects of these diseases can include infertility and even death. 

According to the American Sexual Health Association, one in two young adults will contact an STI by the age of 25. Scarier still, even though young people account for about half of all new STI cases, a recent survey showed that only 12 percent were tested for STIs in the last year. 

No two STIs are alike or offer the exact same symptoms. It is important to know your body and what is normal for you. Paying attention to any changes is an important way to safeguard your sexual health and prevent the infection from spreading further. 

So how do you know if you need to speak with a doctor? Check out the 5 signs you May have an STI. 

Change in Genital Appearance

Source: Canva

One of the reasons it is so important to know what is normal for your body is because knowing what is normal for you is the only way to determine if something has changed. 

While some changes may be obvious and overwhelming, others can be subtle. In fact, close to 90 percent of cases of genital herpes go undetected

So what changes can you expect with an STI? Look for the following: 

  • Swelling or redness near the genitals
  • Bumps, sores or warts near the vagina, penis, mouth or anus
  • Skin rash

Pain during Sex or Urination

Source: Canva

Pain during sex is usually the result of an STI or hormone imbalance. Many common STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause inflammation which can lead to pain during sex. 

Painful urination is often associated with urinary tract infections. Often bacteria can be spread into the female urinary tract during sex and lead to infection. Often frequent and painful urination can be signs of infection. 

Change in Discharge 

Source: Canva

While female discharge is often still considered a ‘taboo’ subject, discharge is extremely important in the health of the vagina. The vagina is much like a self cleaning oven. Glands in your vagina and cervix produce clear fluid that takes with it old cells and bacteria. 

Changes in vaginal discharge can point to infection-whether it is a sexually transmitted infection or another type such as a yeast infection. 

It is important to know what is normal for your body and look for changes in color, texture and most importantly-smell. 


Feeling Sick

Source: Canva

Sometimes sexually transmitted infections will also produce similar symptoms to regular infections. While these symptoms may not always immediately point to a sexually transmitted infection, noting any other changes that accompany these symptoms can help your doctor pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. 

STIs can also Cause the Following Symptoms:

  • Aches
  • Pains
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Loose stools
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss


Unprotected sex

Source: Canva

Any time you choose to have sex without protection you are putting yourself at risk to contract a STI. Regular testing for STIs is a good idea for any sexually active adult, even if they are in a committed relationship. 

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to disclose to your healthcare professional that you have had unprotected sex. By disclosing that an STI may be possible it can make for a speedier diagnosis and treatment. 


Uncomfortable Talking About STIs?

Source: Canva

Your sexual health can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with a family doctor you may have known your whole life. Instead of the uncomfortable waiting room, connect with one of our doctors for a face saving online chat. You can even send pictures or video for better medical insight. Connect today and let us cure your worry from the comforts of home. 


Read next: 5 Foods that can Improve Sexual Performance

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

About Richard Honaker M.D.

Dr. Richard Honaker has over 40 years of experience as a primary care physician specializing in several different areas of medicine. He is able to provide expert case review and analysis for insurance and workers compensation cases as well as providing online medical consultations as the Chief Medical Advisor for Your Doctors Online.

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