Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are spread through sexual contact. While some may be relatively mild, others can cause a range of problems from pain to infertility and cancer.
This article outlines the signs and symptoms of STDs in the penis and other parts of the body. It also describes several non-STD-related disorders that can cause many of the same symptoms.
STDs often cause symptoms that affect the penis or groin area. These symptoms can be caused by something other than an STD, but to be on the safe side, get it checked out by your doctor.
If you have an STD, there are five common symptoms that can affect the penis:
- Penile pain or discomfort: Pain or discomfort during urination or ejaculation can also be a sign of an STD.
- Penile discharge: A thick white, yellow, or green discharge from the tip of the penis may be gonorrhea. Significant discharge may indicate Chlamydia.
- single sore on the penis: syphilis, a hard, painless sore (called mandible) may appear on the penis.
- Painful blisters: A cluster of painful or itchy red spots or blisters on the penis or scrotum can be a sign of genital herpes. Usually, pain or itching occurs first, followed by blisters a day or two later.
- Swollen testicles: Orchitis (inflammation of the testicles) can be caused by a variety of causes, but STDs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia are the most common. There may also be pain and heaviness.
Signs of an STD involving the penis include painful urination, painful ejaculation, swollen testicles, discharge from the penis, a single large sore, or a cluster of tiny, painful blisters.
STDs can cause symptoms in other parts of the body. Some may involve other parts of the male genitalia or the entire body:
- Anal blisters or sores: Small, painful clusters of blisters on the anus indicate that genital herpes is spread through anal sex. Anal sex can also cause large open sores in the anus due to syphilis.
- Swollen lymph nodes: Swollen lymph nodes in the groin (called inguinal lymph nodes) are common in many STDs. With HIV, swollen lymph nodes are common around the neck (called cervical lymph nodes).
- Itchy pubic hair: Pubic lice (“crabs”) may experience itchy pubic hair.If you look closely, you may see grey or brown eggs attached to the base of the hair shaft, and you may even see lice crawling on the skin
- Linear red, itchy bumps: A scabies infection can cause red, itchy bumps that usually appear in lines. Scabies can also affect the genitals and other parts of the body.
- Large rash: Some people who have recently been exposed to HIV may develop a large rash.The same can happen with secondary syphilis, a disease that develops years after the initial syphilis infection
- Flu-like symptoms: During the early stages of HIV infection, many people experience headaches, fever, chills, body aches, and fatigue.
Some of these symptoms can easily be confused with other conditions. Therefore, it is important to consider whether an STD is involved if strange symptoms develop shortly after sexual contact, especially if condoms are not being used.
STDs such as genital herpes, syphilis, scabies, pubic lice, and HIV can cause symptoms in other parts of the body, including the groin, anus, pubic hair, or the entire body. Swollen lymph nodes are common in many different types of STDs.
Non-STD Related Conditions
Sometimes there are other causes of penile infections besides STDs. So if you have STD symptoms, you don’t have to be embarrassed to seek a diagnosis. It may end up being nothing, or in rare cases, become more serious and require immediate medical attention.
- Balanitis: pain and inflammation of the head of the penis, most common in uncircumcised men
- Penile Yeast Infection: Also Known as penile candidiasisby a Candida albicans
- Testicular torsion; a medical emergency involving abnormal twisting of the testicle
- Penile cancer: a rare cancer that can cause penile pain, difficulty urinating, and penile discharge
Finally, only an STD test can tell if you have an STD.
Just because you have STD symptoms doesn’t mean you have an STD. Only STD testing can confirm this.
Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes, can cause symptoms involving the penis and/or scrotum. These include painful urination, painful ejaculation, swollen testicles, noticeable discharge from the penis, and penile sores.
STDs can also cause symptoms in other parts of the body or throughout the body. These include swollen lymph nodes, anal ulcers (related to anal sex), itchy pubic hair, a widespread rash, and even flu-like symptoms. Some of them are very nonspecific and can easily be mistaken for other diseases.
Symptoms alone cannot diagnose STDs. Only STD can confirm this.
Common STD Symptoms
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away and ask for an appointment so you can be tested and, if diagnosed positive, receive appropriate treatment.
While waiting for a diagnosis, you should use barrier protection (such as condoms) for any sexual activity. Be sure to alert any sexual partners if diagnosed. They may also need testing and treatment.
If you haven’t already, be sure to move on to safer sex.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection in men?
While yeast infections are generally considered a female disease, men can also get them. Some symptoms of a yeast infection in men include burning with urination, sores on the foreskin, white patchy skin, itching, foul-smelling discharge, and painful intercourse.
Who is most vulnerable to STDs?
Risk varies by STD type. Syphilis is more likely to occur in newborns, women and men who have sex with men (MSM). Gonorrhea is most likely to affect women and MSM, while chlamydia is most common in women. Using condoms and other safer sex practices is essential regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.
How common are STDs?
STDs are very common. 26 million new infections were reported in 2018, most of which involved people aged 15 to 24.