Sexual health can be something we shy away from talking about, but we should never feel ashamed by the idea of contracting an STD - it’s not uncommon! In fact, research has found that one in two sexually active individuals will contract an STD by 25 [1].

Below are some of the most common STD symptoms in women [2]:

  • 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

Let us take you through everything you need to know - from STD symptoms in women to treatments and diagnosis.




STD Symptoms In Women: What You Need To Know


Can STD Symptoms Appear The Next Day?

How long it takes for symptoms to appear depends on the type that you’ve contracted. It’s important to remember that in the majority of cases, there won’t be any symptoms at all.

Some STDs may show symptoms 24-48 hours after sexual contact, whereas some have the potential to remain dormant for a long time.


Chlamydia In Women


According to the World Health Organization, Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the world [3]. Many people who have chlamydia won’t realise as it often has no symptoms.

The most common symptoms of Chlamydia in women include:

  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex
  • Pain during sex
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Gardnerella In Women


Gardnerella is one of the most common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge in women [4].

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

Gonorrhea In Women


Gonorrhoea is the second most commonly reported STD in the world [5].

The most common symptoms of Gonorrhoea 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

Herpes In Women


Herpes is an example of a viral STD that can’t be cured though it can be managed.

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

Hepatitis B In Women


Hepatitis is most commonly used to describe an inflammatory condition in the liver. Hepatitis may be an autoimmune condition or it can be caused by secondary factors such as alcohol consumption, drug use and certain medications.

Hepatitis B can be transmitted when blood, semen, or other bodily fluid from an infected individual enters another person's body.

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

H.I.V. In Women


H.I.V. (Human immunodeficiency virus) is an autoimmune condition. In 2017, it was reported that women accounted for 19% of all new H.I.V. diagnoses in the United States [6].

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

HPV In Women


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is so common that nearly all sexually active people will get at least one type of HPV during their life.

There are thought to be over 100 varieties of HPV - each are classified into ‘low-risk’ and ‘high risk’ strains; it’s possible for high risk strains to cause cervical cancer amongst other cancers.

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

Mycoplasma In Women


Traditionally, Mycoplasma was associated with a condition known as Mycoplasma pneumonia, which affects the respiratory system. However, it’s now recognized as an STD that can lead to damage to the reproductive organs.

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

Syphilis In Women


Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and in recent years the rate of Syphilis has been increasing among men who have sex with men (MSM) as well as hetrosexual men and women [7].

The severity of your Syphilis diagnosis depends on how long you’ve had Syphilis and at which stage it was diagnosed and/or treated - below are the three stages:

Primary Syphilis

The first sign of Syphilis is a sore, also called a chancre. A chancre is usually firm, round and painless.

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 as 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, it 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 12 month period, late latent Syphilis refers to the period of time after the 12 month period.

Tertiary Syphilis

Tertiary Syphilis often occurs in the years following the initial infection. Tertiary Syphilis can affect the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones and joints. Symptoms generally vary depending on the organ system infected.


Trichomoniasis In Women


Trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD - 3.7 million people have trichomoniasis in the United States, however only 30% of people will develop symptoms [8].

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
  • A fishy smell coming from the vagina

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.

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

STD Treatments For Women


STD treatments for women 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, though the type of medication you receive may differ depending on where you live.

How do you tell if you have an STD?

If you’ve 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.)

Can I Test For An STD From Home?

When it comes to testing for STDs, you have two options - you can go to your doctor’s office or you can take a test from home.

Check out 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 don’t need to worry about taking time out of your busy schedule, having to visit a doctor’s waiting room or speaking with someone face to face.

If you’re 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 you 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 | Edited by Dani Roche


References

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff, Sexually Transmitted (STD) Symptoms. Online: MayoClinic.org. 2018
  2. American Sexual Health Association, Statistics. Online: Ashasexualhealth.org
  3. World Health Organization, Sexually Transmitted Infections. Online: Who.int. 2019
  4. Harvard Health Publishing, Bacterial Vaginosis. Online: Health.harvard.edu. 2019
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gonorrhea. Online: Cdc.gov. 2018
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV Among Women. Online: Cdc.gov. 2020
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Syphilis - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Online: Cdc.gov. 2017
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet. Online: Cdc.gov. 2017