There is nothing like the sinking feeling the morning after the night before when you know that you have slipped up in practicing safe sex.

We all make mistakes, sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we are at the receiving end of someone elses's mistake.

In this article, we really want to delve into the most common STD symptoms in women, including the incubation periods of common infections, the tests you should be taking and the treatments you will need to undergo should you receive a result that says you have contracted an STD.


STD Symptoms In Women Explained

If you suspect that you have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, try not to be too hard on yourself. These things do happen, and while it is unfortunate, it is not uncommon, especially for women, who are the most high risk demographic for getting an STD between the ages of 15-24 years of age.

Check out the LetsGetChecked STD table for understanding the most common STD symptoms in women.


Your best bet for understanding STD symptoms lies in taking note of how you usually feel and/or whether you suffer from certain conditions on a regular basis.

For instance, do you get yeast infections frequently? Do you suffer from urinary tract infections on a regular basis? What does your vaginal discharge look like? Does it change during your cycle?

These are all questions that you need to be asking yourself as sometimes the symptoms of an STD can be masked by other health conditions and vice versa.

For instance, yeast infections may cause itching or a burning sensation when you pee. Urinary tract infections can cause burning during urination, or constantly feeling like you need to urinate.


Vaginal discharge is unique to every person, your discharge can change substantially throughout your cycle, and what might be totally normal for one person could be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease in another.

If you take note of how you usually feel, and what happens in your body when you are well, it will be easier to understand how you feel when you are unwell.

Some of the most common STD symptoms in women include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bumps on the genitals or anus
  • Ulcers on the genitals or anus
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

STDs offer a range of symptoms that are either the exact same or are totally different. We will talk you through the most common STD symptoms for different STDs so you know what to expect from each specific sexually transmitted disease.

To get a full list which goes through everything you need to know about sexually transmitted diseases in men and women, read the LetsGetChecked STD List.

Symptoms Of Chlamydia In Women

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STDs in the world.

Quick Facts

  • Chlamydia is a bacterial STD and is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

  • Most people with chlamydia will not notice any symptoms, it is often referred to as a “silent disease.”

  • Chlamydia can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (P.I.D) in women, untreated, this condition may lead to infertility.

The most common symptoms of chlamydia in women include:

  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Pain during sex in women
  • Rectal pain, bleeding or discharge
  • Pelvic inflammatory Disease (PID)

Symptoms Of Gardnerella In Women

Gardeneralla is also known as bacterial vaginosis. Gardnerella is one of the most common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge in women.

Quick Facts

  • Gardnerella is a bacterial STD. It is not fully understood how you may contract gardnerella, however it is thought that it is connected to the growth of harmful bacteria.

  • 50% of women who are diagnosed with gardnerella will not experience any symptoms.

  • While gardnerella is considered as an emerging STD, it may be contacted through different methods including vaginal douching, smoking and certain contraceptives, most notably through the use of an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device).

The most common symptoms of gardnerella in women include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain or burning after sex
  • Vaginal discharge that may be white or grey in colour
  • Vaginal discharge that has a strong, foul order
  • Vaginal itching or dryness

Symptoms Of Gonorrhea In Women

Gonorrhea the second most commonly reported STD in the world.

Quick Facts

  • Gonorrhea is a bacterial STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral and anal sex. Gonorrhea is most common in the 15-24 year age group.

  • Gonorrhea is becoming increasingly drug resistant which is making it more difficult to treat and/or manage. These new strains that are resistant to antibiotics are often referred to as “super gonorrhea.”

  • Over 50% of women with gonorrhea will not experience symptoms.

The most common symptoms of gonorrhea in women include:

  • Increased need to urinate
  • White, beige or green discharge from the vagina
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Heavy periods
  • Spotting between periods
  • A sore throat
  • Pain similar to cramping in the lower abdomen


Symptoms Of Herpes In Women

Herpes is a viral STD. Herpes is an example of an STD that cannot be cured, though it can be managed. Today, there are plenty of medicines on the market that can help to prevent and/or shorten herpes outbreaks. There are also herpes medications that can be taken daily and ensure that you are less likely to pass the virus onto your partners.

Though there are very effective medications available, prevention is better than a cure when it comes to your sexual health and this highlights the need for regular screenings and practicing safe sex. (i.e using a condom at all times.)

Quick Facts

  • Herpes is a viral STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral and anal sex. It is also possible to get herpes through kissing someone who is carrying the HSV I virus.

  • Herpes comes in two strands and is commonly known as HSV. HSV-I may cause small painful blisters known as cold sores or fever blisters. HSV-II is likely to cause genital herpes, which present as painful blisters on the genitals and/or mouth.

  • Over 50% of American adults have oral herpes, also commonly known as a cold sore. 1 in 8 American adults aged 14-49 are living with genital herpes.

The most common symptoms of herpes in women include:

  • Small bumps on the vagina or anus
  • Ulcers which make urination painful
  • Oozing or bleeding from blisters
  • Scabs on the vagina or anus
  • Sores on the eyes, buttocks, anus, cervix, mouth or urethra
  • Burning or itching at the point of sexual contact
  • Pain in your lower back, buttocks and/or legs

Symptoms Of Hepatitis A, B & C In Women

Hepatitis is most commonly used to describe an inflammatory condition in the liver. Hepatitis may be an autoimmune condition (in which your immune system attacks your liver cells) or it can be caused by secondary causes such as alcohol consumption, drug use and certain medications.

Quick Facts

  • Hepatitis B is a viral STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral or anal sex as the virus is based through blood, semen and other bodily fluids.

  • Those who are living with hepatitis may not experience their symptoms for up to 6 months, while there are claims that the body may be able to fend on the infection itself, this is not something anyone should attempt as untreated hepatitis can eventually lead to liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver.

  • Worldwide, it is reported that there are over 250 million people living with hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, where the prevalence rate is between 5-10%. Ireland and the Netherlands have the lowest rates of hepatitis B cases in the world.

The most common symptoms of hepatitis B in women include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Dark coloured urination
  • Feeling persistently feverish
  • Aches and pains in your joints
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weakness and/or fatigue
  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of your eyes

Symptoms OF H.I.V. In Women

H.I.V. is the shortened version of human immunodeficiency virus. In 2016, it was reported that women accounted for 19% of all new H.I.V. diagnoses in the United States.

Quick Facts

  • H.I.V is a viral STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

  • Left untreated, in the later stages of diagnoses, H.I.V. may develop into a condition called AIDS in which the immune system has been broken down to the point where it is too weak to defend against life threatening infections and cancers.

  • 1 in 4 people living with H.I.V. are women. The most common female groups who will receive a H.I.V. diagnoses are 1. Black/African American Women (Heterosexual Contact), 2. Hispanic/Latin Women (Heterosexual Contact) and 3. White Women (Heterosexual Contact).

The most common symptoms of H.I.V. in women include:

  • Sore throat and/or swollen glands
  • Painful mouth sores
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body rash
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Vaginal infections, most commonly yeast and bacterial vaginosis

Symptoms Of H.P.V. In Women

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is so common that nearly 80% of sexually active people will come into contact with the virus at some point in their lives.

Quick Facts

  • HPV is a viral STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral and anal sex. HPV is the most common STD in women.

  • There are 150 strains of HPV, some strains may cause genital warts, others are cancer-causing strains. HPV infection is the most common cause of cervical cancer, for instance, HPV strains 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancer cases.

  • HPV rarely causes any symptoms, and the majority of people will never know that they carried the virus for some time. To learn more about the screening methods and how often you should be getting screened for HPV, read: What Is The Difference Between Pap Smears and HPV Testing?

Most women will not experience symptoms associated with HPV, however if they do, symptoms may include:

  • Warts on the vagina, cervix or anus
  • Warts on the back of the throat
  • Abnormal skin changes on the vagina, cervix or anus
  • Cancer of the vagina, vulva, or oropharyngeal (back of throat)

Symptoms Of Mycoplasma In Women

Mycoplasma isn’t a new STD, however more research has been put into finding out the outcomes of mycoplasma infection. Traditionally, mycoplasma was associated with a condition known as mycoplasma pneumoniae, which affects the respiratory (breathing) system, however it is now recognized as an STD that can cause significant damage to the reproductive organs.

Quick Facts

  • Mycoplasma is a bacterial STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal sex and foreplay. If you contract mycoplasma, you are more likely to both transmit and contract other STDs.

  • Mycoplasma causes inflammation in the urinary and/or genital tracts in men and women.

  • In women specifically, mycoplasma is associated with cervicitis, endometritis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, adverse birth outcomes and an increased susceptibility to H.I.V.

The most common symptoms of mycoplasma in women include:

  • Itching or burning sensation when urinating
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A red or inflamed cervix, also known as cervicitis
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Stinging or burning when passing urine

Symptoms Of Syphilis In Women

Syphilis is the fourth most common STD in the world. Syphilis is more common in men, however it does affect a significant number of women worldwide too.

Quick Facts

  • Syphilis is a bacterial STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

  • Syphilis is 1.5 times more common in men than women, especially in the MSM (men-who-have-sex-with-men community.)

  • Untreated syphilis can lead to serious life threatening health conditions down the line.

The most common symptoms of syphilis in women have three stages, the severity of your syphilis diagnosis will really depend on how long you have had syphilis and at which stage it was diagnosed and/or treated.

Primary Syphilis
The first sign of syphilis is a sore, also called a chancre.

Syphilis is most commonly caused by intimate skin-to-skin contact, specifically contact with the chancre on the skin.

You generally will not feel a chancre on your skin, they are painless. Often they can also be hidden within the genitals. Symptoms of syphilis are rare during primary syphilis however if there are signs, they will most likely be a chancre.

Secondary Syphilis
Your chancre will likely heal in a few weeks, once healed, you may experience a rash that covers your whole body, starting on the palms of your feet or on your hands.

You may feel ill, with a fever, headaches and/or growths on the vagina.

Latent Syphilis
Latent syphilis, which is also known as the hidden stage of syphilis refers to a period of time in which there are no symptoms of syphilis.

Early latent syphilis refers to a period of 12 months, late latent syphilis refers to a period of time after 12 months.

Tertiary Syphilis
Tertiary syphilis often occurs in the years following the initial infection of syphilis. Tertiary syphilis can affect the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints.

Symptoms Of Trichomoniasis In Women

3.7 million people have trichomoniasis in the United States, however only 30% of people will develop symptoms.

Quick Facts

  • Trichomoniasis is a parasitic STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal, oral or anal sex.

  • Trichomoniasis is an STD that is significantly more common in women than men.

  • Trichomoniasis increases your risk of getting other STDs, it also increases your risk of spreading other STDs.

The most common symptoms of trichomoniasis in women include:

  • Itching or burning inside of the vagina
  • Redness or pain inside the vagina
  • Itching or burning during urination
  • Unusual discharge from the vagina: often the consistency and volume will change, the colour of your discharge may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • A fishy smell coming from the vagina

Symptoms Of Ureaplasma In Women

Ureaplasma infection is caused by bacteria ureaplasma urealyticum and ureaplasma parvum. Most women have this bacteria in both their cervical and vaginal secretions without experiencing any symptoms or negative side effects.

Quick Facts

  • Ureaplasma is a bacterial STD that is most commonly contracted through vaginal sex. Ureaplasma bacteria can enter the body via the urethra and the vagina.

  • Ureaplasma is often caused by the uncontrolled growth of bacteria which may cause once healthy tissues to become angry and inflamed.

  • If left untreated, ureaplasma may be associated with infertility, urethritis, meningitis and pneumonia.

The most common symptoms of ureaplasma in women include:

  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding after sex

How Long Does It Take To Know If You Have An STD?

How long it will take you to know if you have an STD depends on the type of STD that you have contracted.

Some STDs may have symptoms 24-48 hours after sexual contact; for instance, herpes and gonorrhea may have low incubation time periods.

STDs including chlamydia, HPV and syphilis may remain dormant for years, which puts you at higher risk for more serious side effects and health conditions down the line.

It is uncommon for STD symptoms to appear the very next day, though it can happen.

Check out our graph which details some of the most common incubation periods for sexually transmitted diseases.


STD Treatments For Women

STD treatments for men depend on the type of STD you have including the intensity of said STD.

In most cases, if you do receive an STD diagnosis, treatment will involve a round of antibiotics, antivirals and/or a topical cream.

The type of medication you receive may differ depending on where you are from but in the next section, we will run through some of the most common treatments for STDs so you have an idea of what to expect if you do receive a diagnosis.

Chlamydia | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for chlamydia generally involves antibiotic therapy. Patients will require a once off dose of antibiotics, however, this also depends on symptoms.

Following your antibiotic treatment, you will not need to take a test for chlamydia again unless recommended by your practitioner.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements. If you are taking certain contraceptives, you may also need to reconsider getting retested.

Gonorrhea | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for gonorrhea generally involves antibiotic therapy. Generally, patients will require a once off round of oral antibiotics or antibiotics delivered through an injection. The method of receiving your antibiotics will depend on the severity of your symptoms.

It is important a repeat test is performed two weeks following treatment to ensure the infection has cleared up.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Trichomoniasis | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for trichomoniasis generally involves a single dose of antibiotics. These antibiotics can be taken orally. Symptoms may also be controlled using certain topical creams, although these will only offer symptomatic relief, they do not act as a cure.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Gardnerella | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for Gardnerella is unnecessary unless there are apparent symptoms. If patients are experiencing symptoms, they will need to undertake a short course of antibiotics.

Other treatments include vaginal antibiotic gels such as metronidazole and/or clindamycin. Some women with recurrent symptoms get relief from using acidic gels to restore the pH balance of the vagina.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Mycoplasma | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for mycoplasma generally involves antibiotic therapy. It is generally a one-off dose of antibiotics but this may vary depending on symptoms.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.


Ureaplasma | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment is not necessary unless you are having symptoms and all other infections have been ruled out.

Antibiotic treatment may be recommended if you are having symptoms.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Herpes Simplex I (HSV-I) & Herpes Simplex II (HSV-II) | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for herpes generally involves antiviral medication for 3-5 days. In people who are experiencing recurrent outbreaks, we may put those patients on daily antiviral suppression medication.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

H.I.V. | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for H.I.V. will depend on a number of variables including:

  • The patient’s age, their likelihood to transmit the infection onwards and whether they are pregnant and/or have concurrent illnesses such as Hepatitis B/C or varying cancers.

  • The patient’s T cell count (or CD4 count.) If the cell count is< 350. Guidelines suggest starting medication. Medications are called highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART or ARVS for short.

The good news is that due to huge advances in HIV care, if the diagnosis is before the immune system has fallen too low and if the patient takes their HAART every day in the correct manner, their life expectancy is almost matched to that of a non-infected person.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Syphilis | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for syphilis generally includes 1-3 injections of long-acting penicillin depending on the stage of the infection ie. primary/secondary/tertiary. In cases of penicillin allergy oral antibiotics can be used through these are second-line treatment.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Hepatitis | Pharmacological Treatment

Treatment for hepatitis depends on the strain of the hepatitis virus that a patient has contracted.

For example, if a patient receives a hepatitis B diagnosis, the treatment will generally involve antivirals to suppress the virus.

If a patient receives a hepatitis C diagnosis, the treatment will generally involve a 12-week course of antibiotics to cure the virus.

If you are pregnant, you need to inform your doctor so he or she can cater to your requirements.

Can You Tell If You Have An STD?

You won’t be able to tell if you have an STD in most cases, due to the fact that the majority of STDs don’t have any symptoms.

While you might have a sinking feeling or a sneaking suspicion, there is no real way to fully know whether or not you have contracted a sexually transmitted disease without getting tested.

So how do you tell if you have an STD?

  • You need to get screened once a year.

  • If you have had unprotected sex, you need to consider getting tested as soon as the incubation period has passed.

When it comes to getting tested, you should always consider getting tested if and when:

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)

The incubation period refers to the amount of time it takes for an STD to become reactive in your sample. You can find out everything you need to know about incubation periods here.

When it comes to testing for sexually transmitted diseases, you have two options. You can either go to your doctor’s office or you can take a test from home.

It doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to which method you choose, the most important thing is that you choose!

Let’s take a look at some of the LetsGetChecked STD testing options that allow you to take the test from home at a time that suits you.

With the LetsGetChecked tests, you do not need to worry about taking time out of our busy schedule, having to visit a doctor’s waiting room or needing to speak with someone face to face.


The LetsGetChecked testing options allow you to track, monitor and improve your health when you don’t have time to stop. In this section, we are going to run through the best testing options that can cater to any budget.

The Simple Test: Our Basic Check Up


What Does It Test For?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea

Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are symptomless more often that not so early detection is key.

Though it is recommended that you would take a test that covers all infections, The Simple Test is useful for those who are on a tight budget, and for those who have perhaps been specifically told that their partner has a specific infection. (i.e. a previous partner has reached out to tell you that they have chlamydia.)

The Standard Test: Our Most Popular Test


What Does It Test For?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • H.I.V. (I, II P24 antigen)
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

The Standard Test is our most popular test, measuring some of the most common STDs in the world.

The Complete Test: Our Most Comprehensive Overview


What Does It Test For?

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Gardnerella
  • Mycoplasma
  • Ureaplasma
  • Herpes Simplex I (HSV-I)
  • Herpes Simplex II (HSV-II)
  • HIV (I, II, P24 antigen)
  • Syphilis

The Complete Test offers the most comprehensive view into your sexual health by also identifying bacterial infections that are often not tested for but certainly may cause a host of negative side effects and symptoms.

You should wait a minimum of 3 weeks from the time of sexual intercourse before taking your test, because STDs may take a period of time to become detectable, and you must wait to ensure an accurate result.

Our HIV test includes HIV I, II and P24 antigen, which provides for a shorter window period of 28 days.

We know that this can be an extremely stressful time, we understand what you may be going through and we are here to help in any way we can.

If you are concerned that you may have an STD, you can contact us directly via live chat or schedule a call with one of our nurses who are here to offer your support and guidance at every step of the way.

Read: The LetsGetChecked STD List | Signs, Symptoms & When To Test

Written by Hannah Kingston | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Dominic Rowley