STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases, can cause a number of different visible issues depending on which one you contract. Some have no signs at all, which makes them hard to detect without the help of a doctor.

That being said, there are still quite a few symptoms that are common with most STDs. Pay attention to the ones listed below, and if you’ve experienced any of them, you should see your doctor right away!

How Long Does It Take for Symptoms to Develop?

First thing’s first, you need to understand that some STDs take longer than others to become visible. You may not see any signs until weeks, months or even years since becoming infected while other diseases will present within a day or two.

Keep in mind that symptoms really aren’t a reliable way to determine whether or not you have an STD. Only regular screenings by medical professional can sufficiently determine whether or not you are infected by some nasty stuff.

My advice: If you are switching sex partners, it is often as good idea to have a screening done to ensure that both of you are disease-free.

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Because the incubation period varies with each type of disease, we’ll take a look at some of the most common STDs and the time it takes them to develop noticeable signs.

  • Gonorrhea – It’s not uncommon for gonorrhea to be asymptomatic (no recognizable symptoms). However, if this is not the case you can observe some signs as early as two days after exposure up to a month.
  • Syphilis – It can take anywhere between 10 and 90 days for this disease to become noticeable.
  • Genital warts – Most people who contract genital warts will have their first outbreak within 3 months of being infected.
  • HIV – This one generally remains asymptomatic for years. However, some people develop flu-like symptoms within just a few weeks of being exposed to the virus. Because of this, it’s important to be tested often. Keep in mind that it may take up to six months to test positive after exposure!
  • Hepatitis B – Its signs typically appear within 4-6 weeks of being infected. However, this one can be prevented through vaccination.
  • Chlamydia – Most people never experience any symptoms. However, when they do appear, it generally takes one to three weeks for them to develop.

Keep in mind: If you’ve been sexually intimate with a new partner or feel that you may have been exposed to an STD, getting tested will allow you to catch the nasty stuff early on before any complications can arise. It’s a good idea to do so anyway just to make sure that you’re healthy.

The Most Common Symptoms of STDs

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While symptoms may vary from one STD to the next, there are some general signs that most of these diseases share. These present in certain areas of the body. Some of the most common ones include:

Male Genitals

  • Visible parasites – This is common with public lice.
  • Warts – Most typical for genital warts.
  • Painful urination – This is usually connected with a variety of STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, chancroid, herpes and mycoplasma.
  • Lumps, sores and ulcers – These are common with herpes, chancroid, syphilis, lymphogranuloma venereum and molluscum contagiosum. Ulcers, lumps and sores may appear anywhere on the genital area, and can vary in size.
  • Pain – Some men may experience pain in the genitals (including the testicles and urethra) from gonorrhea (discharge may be yellow, green or white), chlamydia, trichomoniasis and herpes.
  • Urethra discharge – This is common with chlamydia and a few other STDs. If you notice any discharge, see your doctor right away!

Female Genitals

  • Vaginal discharge – This one is commonly seen with gonorrhea, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomoniasis and lymphogranuloma venereum.
  • Itching – Itching occurs usually with most STDs, including chlamydia, BV, pubic lice, trichomoniasis and herpes.
  • Painful urinationYou may experience painful urination if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, herpes, chancroid or trichomoniasis.
  • Painful intercourse – Women may feel discomfort during sexual intercourse if they have herpes, chancroid, trichomoniasis, chlamydia or mycoplasma genitalium.
  • Warts – Warts are common with HPV.
  • Odor – A strange odor may be present in your genital area if you have BV or trichomoniasis.

Mouth & Throat

  • Lumps, sores or ulcers – These may appear on the mouth, throat or tongue. They’re common with herpes, chancroid and syphilis.
  • Pain – Pain may occur in the throat if you have gonorrhea.
  • Swelling – Your lymph nodes may become swollen if you have chancroid, herpes, lymphogranuloma venereum.


  • Pain & discharge – Rectal pain and discharge may be experienced if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea or lymphogranuloma venereum.
  • Bleeding – Rectal bleeding is common with those three diseases mentioned in previous point as well.
  • Painful bowel movements – This is usual symptom with gonorrhea.

Tips for Your Prevention

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In some cases, STDs show no symptoms at all. This is not uncommon with the following diseases: Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, lymphogranuloma venereum, mycoplasma genitalium, trichomoniasis, HIV, herpes or hepatitis B.

Therefore it’s important to get tested regularly if you’re having intercourse with multiple partners. Using a condom will help prevent you from getting an STD, so practicing safe sex is key.

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Also, consider asking your partner to get tested before the two of you decide to have sex. This will help you better protect yourself. Although many of these diseases are treatable, the symptoms can be very uncomfortable. What is more, some STDs (such as genital warts and HIV) can only be managed but cannot be completely cured!