Men's Area - STD Symptoms

STD symptoms are often mistaken for other conditions

Many men believe they would know if they had an STD. While most STDs cause symptoms, they can be easily mistaken for other conditions. In some cases there are no symptoms at all. Knowing the signs and symptoms of common STDs in men, and understanding the risks, is crucial for any man who is sexually active.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial STD that is transmitted during anal, oral, or vaginal sex with someone who is infected with chlamydia. It is one of the most common STDs in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1,401,906 chlamydia infections were reported in the United States in 2013.

Many people who become infected with chlamydia don’t ever display symptoms. Others only begin to display symptoms several weeks after becoming infected. Some of the symptoms of chlamydia in men include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Penile discharge
  • Swollen testicles

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common STI caused by a microscopic, one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This organism spreads during sexual intercourse with someone who already has the infection. The organism usually infects the urinary tract in men, but often causes no symptoms.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Itching or irritation inside the penis
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful urination

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection of your genital tract. It can also grow in your mouth, throat, eyes and anus. The first gonorrhea symptoms generally appear within 10 days after exposure. However, some people may be infected for months before signs or symptoms occur.

Signs and symptoms of gonorrhea may include:

  • Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Painful, swollen testicles
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Anal itching

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a form of hepatitis that is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Unlike other common STDs that can produce more obvious symptoms focused around the genitals that we tend to associate with STDs, hepatitis B causes a dangerous inflammation of the liver. You can contract hepatitis by coming into contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person who is infected with the virus.

Many people infected with hepatitis B will not display symptoms at all. Those who do, often mistake symptoms for a cold or the flu. Even if a person has no symptoms, the virus can continue to damage the liver if it’s left untreated. Hepatitis B symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle and joint pain and aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellow hue to the skin and dark urine)

Herpes (Simplex)

Herpes is a viral infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Herpes may affect the mouth (oral herpes or HSV Type 1) or the genitals (genital herpes or HSV Type 2). Herpes is transmitted through direct contact with the mouth or genitals of a person who has been infected with the virus through sexual intercourse or oral sex and kissing.

The symptoms of herpes can be difficult to spot. Many people won’t have any symptoms at all. Those who do will develop blisters that are often mistaken for other skin conditions like pimples. Symptoms often occur between two days and two weeks after infection. The initial outbreak can be severe. Common symptoms of herpes in men are:

  • Tingling, itching, or burning of the skin in the area where the blisters will appear
  • Blisters on the penis, testicles, on and around the anus, buttocks, or thighs
  • Blisters on the lips, tongue, gums, and other parts of the body
  • Aching muscles in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, or knees
  • Swollen and sometimes tender lymph nodes in the groin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Feeling unwell

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is a term used to refer to a group of viruses that comprises more than 150 strains. While most of these strains are quite harmless, 40 are considered potentially harmful. These are classified as being either low-risk or high-risk strains. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases today. Most men and women will eventually acquire one strain of the virus during his or her lifetime. According to the CDC, there are approximately 14 million new cases of HPV every year. Currently there are at least 79 million people infected with HPV in the United States.

The low-risk strains may result in genital warts in some people, while in men the high-risk strains could lead to cancers of the anus, throat, and penis. HPV can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with a person who has been infected with the virus and is most commonly transmitted through anal, oral, or vaginal sex.

Most men infected with HPV won’t have any symptoms at all, but those who do have symptoms may have:

  • Genital warts (flat and flesh-colored or clusters of tiny bumps described as having a cauliflower appearance)
  • Warts in the mouth or throat (spread through oral sex with an infected partner)

Unlike other STDs which can only be prevented through the use of condoms or by abstinence, HPV can now be prevented with vaccines. There are two HPV vaccines that have been approved by the FDA: Gardasil and Cervarix. They are both effective in the prevention of HPV types 16 and 18 that are high risk and responsible for causing most cervical cancers (70 percent) and types 6 and 11 that cause over 90 percent of genital warts. A new version of Gardasil, called Gardasil 9, protects against five more strains of the virus. Gardasil 9 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2014. It’ll eventually replace the older version. Though originally recommended only for females aged 11 to 26, Gardasil has now also been licensed for use in boys and men aged 11 to 21 to prevent genital warts.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial STD that can be transmitted through anal, oral, or vaginal sex. This ancient disease is still quite prevalent today. Syphilis is considered one of the more serious STDs in men because of its link to HIV and the increased risk of developing HIV when infected with syphilis.

Syphilis has four different phases: primary, secondary, latent, and tertiary. Each phase has its own set of symptoms. The symptoms of primary syphilis in men may include:

  • a very small, firm, and painless sore where the bacteria entered the body, usually on the penis, anus, or lips
  • swollen lymph nodes in the area near the sore

Symptoms of secondary syphilis may include:

  • A skin rash that does not itch, commonly found on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Latent syphilis is the stage that occurs after the symptoms of secondary have stopped and the STD has gone untreated. Tertiary syphilis is the fourth stage. It’s rare as few people actually enter the fourth stage even when the syphilis is left untreated. It can cause serious complications, including damage to the heart, nervous system, brain, joints, and other parts of the body. Syphilis can cause serious medical issues and death if it reaches this stage, even several years after infection.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. It affects a person’s immune system and reduces its ability to fight infection.

HIV symptoms

HIV is an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV interferes with your body's ability to fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause illness, and it can lead to AIDS, a chronic, life-threatening disease.

When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms. Some people develop a flu-like illness, usually two to six weeks after being infected.

Early signs and symptoms

Early HIV signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash
  • Fatigue

These early signs and symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, you're highly infectious. More persistent or severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for 10 years or more after the initial infection.

As the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells, you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as:

  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Cough and shortness of breath

Late-stage HIV infection

Signs and symptoms of late-stage HIV infection include:

  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Shaking chills or fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C) for several weeks
  • Swelling of lymph nodes for more than three months
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Persistent headaches
  • Unusual, opportunistic infections

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