Lindsey Sirera
April 26, 2017 12:20 pm
Getty Images / Atsushi Yamada

No one wants to face the possibility that they might have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI). Plain and simple, it’s unpleasant business nobody likes to deal with. But let us remind you that knowledge is power, and the sooner you *know* that you do (or hopefully don’t) have an STD, the sooner you can seek treatment and go along with your merry lives. After all, an STD is not a death sentence! It’s just a fact of many adult lives, and with proper medical attention, they’re totally treatable if not totally curable.

As STD Awareness Month draws to a close, we want to leave you with a guide to all the most common STD symptoms and which STDs they might point to.

Keep in mind, many of these STDs have similar symptoms, so do yourself a favor and don’t try to diagnose yourself. Leave that part to the medical professionals, like your trusty doctor. Also remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so even if you’re worried you’re overreacting, go ahead and get tested. As a matter of fact, most STDs don’t even exhibit outward symptoms, so getting tested for an STD doesn’t make you an unreasonable person. it makes you a mature and responsible adult!

Here are eight symptoms that indicate it’s time for you to get tested for an STD.

1Painful urination

Plain and simple, feeling excruciating pain when you pee just isn’t normal. If you’re feeling a terrible burning sensation every time you urinate, then it’s definitely cause to get tested.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)Trichomoniasis

2Lower abdominal pain

If any part of your lower abdomen aches continuously, as in feeling a dull and consistent pain in your ovaries, it may be a sign of inflammation or infection. This pain isn’t usually as sharp and pronounced as menstrual cramps, although it can become that intense if left untreated. Don’t just put up with it by taking over-the-counter painkillers. Go get it checked out!

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, PID

3Unusual or strong vaginal odor

At risk of entering TMI territory, let us just say this: if you notice an unusually pungent or fishy smell from your vag, then it may warrant a trip to the doctor. Things like exercise and excessive heat can, umm, contribute to an unpleasant scent in the southern hemisphere, but with an STD/STI, the smell will be much more pronounced, and it will be there consistently.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Bacterial Vaginosis, PID, Trichomoniasis, Vaginitis

4Itching or irritation down south

Like many of the symptoms here, some itching and irritation can be completely normal. It’s persistent, uncomfortable or painful itching and irritation that means you need to get tested. We’re talking about the feeling of “that itch you can’t scratch.” Sometimes, this symptom is a precursor to more unpleasant symptoms down the road (like rashes or warts, eek). So do yourself a favor and get tested early.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Trichomoniasis, Vaginitis

5You’re spotting between periods

More often than not, spotting between your periods is not due to an STI/STD. That being said, spotting is *not* normal, and you may want to consult your doctor about it regardless, especially if it keeps happening over and over again. Spotting between periods can be an indication of certain STIs, as the cervix is often worn down by the infection, which causes the unusual bleeding.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, PID

6Thick, cloudy or colored discharge

Discharge is seemingly unpleasant but ~very~ normal occurrence in a healthy vagina. But the cause for concern comes from discharge that is oddly colored (yellow, green, gray, etc.), extremely cloudy (think along the lines of yogurt), or very thick. Since discharge is one of the ways your lady parts clean themselves out, this is a telltale sign to your body is already working to flush out an STD/STI.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, PID, Trichomoniasis

7You notice a chancre sore, a wart or small red bumps

A large chancre sore, wart or blister is often the most obvious sign that something is wrong. If you notice one or more of these down south, then please get yourself in for a test. While it can be difficult to control an outbreak, there are measures you can take to prevent them! Not all of these sores will be painful, and some will even look more like rashes (as is the case with syphilis). Simply, noticing any abnormal spots or rashes down there is enough reason to schedule a doctor’s visit.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Genital Herpes, HPV, Syphilis

8Pain or bleeding during intercourse

Some pain or bleeding during intercourse can be totally normal, particularly if intercourse is particularly rough or you’re not well lubricated. The difference, however, is that pain or bleeding during the act occurs under fairly “normal” circumstances. It’s important to listen to your body here and pay attention to *why* you’re experiencing these unpleasant side effects.

Regardless, any pain or bleeding as a side effect may warrant a trip to the doctor whether you think you may have an STD or not, because no one deserves to deal with those nasty symptoms.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have: Chlamydia, HPV, PID, Trichomoniasis

The final word

Like we said earlier, it’s better to err on the side of caution. If any of these symptoms sound painfully familiar, don’t hesitate to call up your doctor and schedule an appointment. The more you know about your health, the better you can take care of yourself—and the better sex you can have.

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