What Does It Feel Like to Have an STD?

Common Symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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What does it feel like to have an STD? That is a difficult question to answer. Sometimes having an STD doesn't feel like anything at all. Other times you'll have uncomfortable symptoms or visible sores. The truth is that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are stealthy. Far too often, people have no idea that they have one.

There is a good reason why so many people want to know what it feels like to have an STD. They want to be certain that they could tell if they had one. That's true even for people who consistently practice safe sex. Their STD risk may me relatively low, but it's still possible for an infection to sneak in under the radar. That is particularly true for STDs that are spread by skin-to-skin contact rather than through bodily fluids. Condoms and other barriers can reduce the risk of these diseases, which include herpes and HPV. Unfortunately, they can't eliminate the risk entirely completely. 

The truth is that it usually requires a trip to the doctor to feel relatively certain about whether or not you have an STD. Sometimes it is obvious, but more often it's not. Furthermore, there are a wide variety of STDs out there, and each of them has its own symptoms.

Some Common STD Symptoms

What does it feel like to have an STD? The list of possible symptoms is pretty diverse. However, here are the most common symptoms you might experience:

Caveat: Other STD Symptoms You May Experience

Even the broad list of symptoms above isn't complete. Other STD symptoms can include sore throats, body aches, and even eye problems. Furthermore, a list of symptoms doesn't really answer the question of what an STD feels like. Quite often, having an STD feels like nothing at all. People can be infected with an STD and have no symptoms for years. Depending on anything other than regular screening to determine whether or not you have an STD is simply unreliable.

In addition, not all things that first seem like STD symptoms—pain, strange lumps, discharge—will end up being caused by an STD. Other diseases, such as yeast infections, which are not sexually transmitted, can also cause these signs, Furthermore, most STD symptoms are non-specific enough that even doctors can't diagnose them without the help of a lab.

That's why if you do experience genital pain, recurring sores, discharge, or other symptoms, it's always a good idea to get them checked out. Whether a disease is sexually transmitted or not has nothing to do with how important it is for you to take care of it.

Finally, I want to mention that most people who ask what an STD feels like usually are asking because they know they are at risk. They know this because they have had unprotected sex with one or more partners whose STD status they are uncertain of. That on its own is a good reason to get tested. There is no other effective way for you to stay on top of your sexual health.

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