eg. What are ways to avoid getting all types of STD?

STD Symptoms in Women

While many STDs present mild or no symptoms in both men and women, it is important for women to recognize the potential signs of infection. Common symptoms women might experience when infected with an STD are itching, bumps, or burning urination. However, symptoms can take a few days or a few weeks to develop, or present as flu-like symptoms, so it’s important to be tested regularly, especially after unprotected sex.

Common STD Symptoms in Women

  • No symptoms
  • Vaginal discharge (can be thin or thick and milky white, yellow, or green in color)
  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal blisters or rashes in the genital area
  • Burning or painful urination
  • Pain during intercourse

Uncommon Symptoms in Women

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

Dealing with Possible Symptoms

Vaginal Discharge

While vaginal discharge is a normal occurrence, changes in the amount, texture, or color of discharge might point to an STD or other infection.

Non-sexual Causes of Vaginal Discharge:

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

Vaginal discharge changes as a response to bacterial or fungal infections and is the body’s way of trying to clear out the infection. If you experience unusual discharge, it might be a result of an STD.

Abnormal vaginal discharge can vary widely in its features. Some symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Bloody
  • “Fishy” smelling
  • Green, yellow, milky, or grayish white in color
  • Gummy or cottage cheese-like texture
  • Odorless
  • Thin and watery
  • Thick and viscous

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis are common STDs that can cause vaginal discharge. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily treatable with antibiotics. The only way to know the cause of abnormal discharge is to go in for an examination with your healthcare provider.

Vaginal Burning

Vaginal burning or irritation is sometimes the result of an STD or other infection. It occurs when the area around the vagina, such as the vulva and labia, are inflamed. Some causes are sexual in nature, while others are not.

Vaginal burning can be constant or come and go. Depending on its cause, it can go away on its own. However, if vaginal burning is the result of an STD or other infection, it requires medical treatment.

An internal burning sensation is usually associated with a urinary tract infection.

Non-sexual Causes of Vaginal Burning

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

STDs that Cause Vaginal Burning

Although many STDs are symptomless, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis are commonly associated with vaginal burning. Genital herpes causes clusters of painful bumps that can cause further irritation when they burst. Sometimes these bumps can form inside the vagina, where they often go unnoticed.

Trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis can cause vaginal discharge in addition to vaginal burning.

The only way to know if the cause of vaginal burning is associated with an STD is to be tested by a healthcare provider.

Vaginal Itching

Vaginal itching is characterized by itching or discomfort in and/or around the vagina. It can have sexual and non-sexual causes. However, vaginal itching is often one of the first symptoms of an STD that women experience.

Non-sexual Causes for Vaginal Itching

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

STDs that Cause Vaginal Itching

Trichomoniasis and genital herpes can both cause vaginal itching, in addition to other symptoms. Trichomoniasis is also associated with thick, cottage-cheese like discharge and both herpes and trichomoniasis can cause vaginal burning. Herpes is usually characterized by a small group of bumps or blisters that irritate the skin around the genital area.

The only way to know whether an STD is causing vaginal itching is to be tested by a healthcare provider.

Vaginal Bumps

The appearance of vaginal bumps can be one of the first signs of an STD infection that women notice. However, some bumps are normal. Becoming familiar with your genital area can help you differentiate between abnormal and regular bumps.

Non-sexual Causes of Vaginal Bumps

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

STDs that can cause Vaginal Bumps

Herpes and HPV are the most common STDs associated with bumps, blisters, or lesions in the genital area.

Herpes blisters usually clump together and can ooze a clear liquid when irritated. These sores can be mistaken for syphilis sores, so it’s important to be tested if you find new bumps in your genital area.

HPV can cause genital warts, which are often painless bumps. These bumps are usually flesh-colored and also clump together. While the bumps usually do not cause any discomfort, they can be spread and some strains of HPV are associated with the development of cervical cancer.

The only way to know if vaginal bumps are caused by an STD is to be tested by a healthcare provider.

Back to STD Symptoms

Last updated on November 27th, 2016

Trichomoniasis Symptoms

Trichomoniasis (commonly referred to as “Trich”) is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It is […]

learn more

Herpes Type 1 and Type 2 Symptoms

Herpes is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Herpes simplex type […]

learn more

Syphilis Symptoms

Syphilis is known as “The Imitator” or “The Great Pretender” because its symptoms imitate many […]

learn more