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Symptoms of STIs

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Sexually transmitted infections and their common symptoms

Here you can find Open House’s rapid review of STIs and their most common symptoms. It is an overview, not an in-depth analysis.

  • HIV and AIDS
  • Gonorrhea, chlamydia and Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Ureaplasma, mycoplasma hominis and trichomonas
  • Syphilis and herpes
  • Hepatitis A, B or C
  • Papillomavirus (HPV) and warts
HIV and AIDS

Acute infection: This phase usually lasts between 2 to 3 months. In the majority of cases the person goes through this phase without even realising it but there may be some  flu-like symptoms (fever, unwellness, sore throat, shivers, joint pain, swollen lymph glands or skin rashes).

Asymptomatic infection: This follows the acute phase. It is impossible to detect someone in this stage of HIV just by appearances because they are completely well and look healthy. This may go on for more than 10 years.

AIDS infection: HIV does not produce any illness itself but rather it causes the host an immunodeficiency and therefore they are susceptible to infections. In this stage, tumours such as Kaposi’s sarcoma may occur.

If you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, we can help you:

  1. Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959
  2. Read about HIV tests by clicking here
  3. Read information about HIV and AIDS by clicking here
Gonorrhea, chlamydia and Mycoplasma genitalium

Many people infected with chlamydia, gonorrhoea or  mycoplasma genitalium show no symptoms, but the most common ones are the following:

In men: stinging when you pee, burning itching or penile discharge

In women: stinging or painful urination, altered vaginal secretions, pain in sex

In both sexes: sore throat, tonsillitis, pus in the throat, rectal secretions, burning or rectal pain, abnormal feelings on defecating.

  • Data from OpenHouse reveals that 60% chlamydia infections in men (in the urethra) are asymptomatic and similarly in around 15% of  gonorrhoea infections.
  • In the cervix and throat about 90% of infections have no symptoms.
  • The only way to be 100% sure of not having chlamydia or gonorrhoea is to get tested.

If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, we can help you:

  1. Call us to get information or make an appointment on 914294959
  2. Read about chlamydia and gonorrhoea by clicking here
Ureaplasma, mycoplasma hominis and trichomonas
Most people  with these three infections are just chronic carriers and it does not suppose any kind of threat to their health, but sometimes they do produce symptoms that need testing and treatment. They are only transmissible in vaginal sex:

In men: stinging, burning, itching when urinating or penile discharge

In women: vulvar or vaginal burning, altered vaginal secretions with a change in smell.

If you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, we can help you:

  1. Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959
  2. Read about these infections by clicking here
Syphilis and herpes
Syphilis and herpes are two sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that produce ulcers. The most typical symptoms are:
  • Primary syphilis:  incubation period of some weeks. Normally a sole ulcer (in the mouth or on the genitals), usually painless, it may be small or big and regional lymph glands may swell up. It clears up in a few weeks (and moves on to be secondary syphilis).
  • Secondary syphilis:  after primary syphilis the infection starts to spread around the body and produces a general skin rash, usually accompanied by unwellness and fever.
  • Herpes: incubation period of just a few days. The primary infection (the first time you catch the virus) normally consists of several ulcers which burn or sting and with pain in that region, the ulcers are superficial and round.

If you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, we can help you:

  1. Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959
  2. Read about syphilis and tests clicking here.
Hepatitis A, B or C
Symptoms of hepatitis may be very subtle (tiredness, flu-like symptoms) or they may be full-blown (jaundice, pale stools, dark urine, fever).
  • Hepatitis A:  normally seen between men where one has licked the anus of an infected man. This infection almost always produces jaundice.
  • Hepatitis B: in half of hepatitis B infections the person does not experience any symptoms. If they do the symptoms they tend to be very subtle (fever, unwellness).
  • Hepatitis C:  we do not usually see hepatitis C in sex, except if infected blood has entered the blood stream. Sharing cocaine devices is also a route of transmission. Symptoms are subtle.

If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, we can help you:

  1. Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959
  2. Read about hepatitis and tests by clicking here
Papillomavirus (HPV) and warts
There are two types of papillomavirus: strains that produce warts and strains associated to cancer. Both strains are completely different and warts do not imply cancer at all.
In most cases it is easy to detect warts. However in some occasions they are imperceptible and our specialist doctor’s view may be crucial to detect them. In most extreme cases it may be needed a test to recognize them.

If you are concerned about any of these symptoms, we can help you:

  1. Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959
  2. Read about HPV and warts by clicking here


Symptoms you may be experiencing

Here is a rough giude to symptoms we see every day in the clinic and which infections we consider relevant.

  • Flu-like symptoms or general unwellness
  • Stinging when you pee
  • Frequent urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Genital pain in men or testicular pain
  • Difficulty peeing in a man
  • Lumps, bumps and genital sores (in men and women)
  • Redness or irritation of the head of the penis or foreskin
  • Changes in vaginal secretions
  • Vaginal itch or rednesss
  • Sores, ulcers and aphthous in the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Skin rashes
  • Anorectal symptoms
Flu-like symptoms or general unwellness

Many of our patients at Open House come to see us because they believe they may be going through HIV seroconversion. It is usually quite difficult to distinguish between these states just by symptoms, but at Open House we have good clinical judgement.
Our experience tells us that an STI is rarely the cause of these symptoms.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • HIV
  • Syphilis

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • if there have been unprotected penetrations, especially anal sex
  • if there was sex between men (where we most see syphilis)
  • if there is nasal mucus (we don’t see this symptom in HIV)

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Stinging when you pee

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasmas, ureaplasmas or trichomonas.

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • A penile discharghe is highly suggestive of one of these infections.
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are transmissible in oral sex whereas the others mentioned above require unprotected penetration.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Frequent urination

Something is irritating or occupying the bladder to have this symptom.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • We don’t usually think first about an STI with this symptoms unless it is accompanied by others such as stinging or discharge, in which case the relevant infections would be chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasmas, ureaplasmas or trichomonas.

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Stinging or discharge would be highly suggestive of an STI.
  • If it happens only during the daytime we would think of anxiety as the major cause.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Discharge from the penis

This symptoms is highly suggestive of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasmas, ureaplasmas or trichomonas

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are transmitted in oral sex, but the others require unprotected penetrations

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Genital pain in men or testicular pain

Many men come to see us at Open House with pain that is difficult to define (lower abdominal pain, between the scrotum and anus, or in the testicles).

If there are no other symptoms in the urethra or prostate (stinging inside the penis, difficulty urinating, heightened need to pee), these symptoms don’t often have anything to do with a sexually transmitted infection.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • In about 3% of these cases we will diagnose chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasmas, ureaplasmas or trichomonas but normally the final diagnosis has nothing to do with STIs.

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Any urethral discharge would be highly suggestive of an STI.
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are transmitted in oral sex but the other infections require unprotected penetration
  • If a phsyical examination reveals painful testicles there may be another kind of bacterial infection happening.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Difficulty peeing in a man

Here we’re not talking about pain, but rather that it is difficult to start the urine flow, or the stream is weaker than normal or there is dribbling at the end.

These are the typical symptoms we see when there is obstruction of the prostate, but sometimes we see the same thing when there is a massive infection of the urthera due to chlamydia or gonorrhea etc.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasmas, ureaplasmas or trichomonas but normally these are symptoms urelated to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • If there is also a urethral discharge this is highly suggestive of an STI
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are transmissible in oral sex whereas the other infections we see in unprocted penetrations.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Lumps, bumps and genital sores (in men and women)

Lumps, bumps and sores (ulcers) may be due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Syphilis
  • Herpes
  • Warts due to papillomavirus

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Both herpes and syphilis may start initially with a lump (a raised lesion or a blister) which will later ulcerate
  • Syphilis doesn’t usually hurt whereas this is typical of herpes
  • Warts are not ulcers, they are elevated structures and often have a “cauliflower-like” surface. They also grow over time.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Redness or irritation of the head of the penis or foreskin

The overwhelming majority of these infections are due to a fungal infection (thrush), These fungal infections are usually part of your own skin flora that has managed to escape control of your protective bacterial flora and are not sexually transmitted.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • We almost never see an STI causing this symptom

Factors the doctor will twe ake into account:

  • If urethral discharge is present this is highly suggestive of an STI. The secretions can irritate the skin of the head of the penis
  • Very occasionally we see atypical syphilis infections producing redness
  • Itchiness is typical of a fungal infection
  • Whether there has been unprotected sex or not

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Changes in vaginal secretions

There may be many reasons to experience changes in secretion that may not have anything to do with a sexually transmitted infection but it is symptom which is common in these infections and requires investigation.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea and Mycoplasma genitalium 
  • Trichomonas and Gardenerella 
  • Ureaplasma, and Mycoplasma hominis 
  • Candida

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Changes in secretions with vaginal and/or vulval itching are not usually due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain, or deep pain during sex is highly suggestive of an STI.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Vaginal itch or rednesss

There may be many reasons to experience changes in secretion that may not have anything to do with a sexually transmitted infection but it is symptom which is common in these infections and requires investigation.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea and Mycoplasma genitalium 
  • Trichomonas and Gardenerella 
  • Ureaplasma, Mycoplasma hominis 
  • Candida 

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain, or deep pain during sex is highly suggestive of an STI.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Sores, ulcers and aphthous in the mouth

Mouth ulcers due to syphilis are not easy to distinguish from other sores. Anything wrong in the mouth or throat can also bring on sores or aphthous ulcers, with stress being a common cause.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Syphilis
  • Herpes

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • Skin: herpes primarily affects the skin and not mucosas
  • Pain: syphilis is usually painless, whereas herpes and aphthous ulcers usually are.
  • The rest of the mouth: if another pathology is present in the mouth, for example tonsillitis or a white coated tongue, we would think initially of aphthous ulcers as the cause.
  • In order to have syphilis in your mouth you would have to have given someone oral sex.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Sore throat

A sore throat is common folllowing a sexual contact. At Open House some of these cases will be due to chlamydia or gonorrhea. Occasionally we see syphilis as the underlying cause or HIV seroconversion.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea may cause pharyngitis or tonsillitis but they are usually asymptomatic throat infections. One in every 8 men who have sex with men who come to Open House will be positive for these infections.
  • Although you will not find it in the medical literature, we do see sore throats due to syphilis, normally secondary syphilis, in other words we don’t see the typical ulcer of primary syphilis when we do the physical examination.
  • In HIV seroconversion there may be sore throat, but it usually happens in context of a full-blown flu-like illness with fever, unwellness etc.
  • Don’t forget that Open House has the most sensitive tests that exist for detecting these infections.

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • If you have given someone oral sex or if there have been unprotected penetrations (a risk for HIV).

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Skin rashes

The most common sexually transmitted infection that casues skin rashes is syphilis. Occasionally we see rashes as part of HIV serovonc¡version. But many other infections and skin conditions can produce these changes in the skin.

Which STIs do we think about?:

  • Syphilis
  • HIV

Factors the doctor will take into account:

  • To be going through HIV seroconversion there must have been sufficient risk (unprotected penetration) in the last few weeks.
  • The rash that HIV produces usually covers the entire body and is associated with extreme unwellness, fever, flu-like symptoms etc.
  • The rash we see in syphilis is usually accompanied by unwellness, nighttime fever and lesions on the hands.

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959

Anorectal symptoms

Symptoms we experience may be anal (the external part and just inside) or rectal (deeper).

Which STIs do we think about?:

We see cases of gonorrhea, chylamydia, lymphogranuloma venereum and Mycoplasma genitalium producing rectal symptoms.

Syphilis can produce both rectal and anal symptoms.

Factors the doctor will take into account:

We would be suspicious of a rectal STI if the following symptoms are present:

  • Deep pain
  • Secretions or mucus
  • Blood
  • The need to empty your bowels even though there are no faeces left – this is highly suggestive of an STI such as gonorrhea or chlamydia

Call us to get information or make an appointment at 914294959



Get our medical team opinion regarding your symptoms

With more than 22 thousand patients seen in some 60 thousand consultations, we are sure we can point you in the right direction with practical advice.
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