STD symptoms in women are often non-existent or difficult to recognize. 80% of sexually transmitted diseases are asymptomatic. This makes women less likely to get checked and get the treatment they may need. If a man sees discharge from his penis, it’s likely to set off alarm bells. Women frequently have normal discharge and itching or burning may be passed off as thrush or changes brought on by the menstrual cycle.

STDs left untreated in women are more likely to cause long term complications than in men. For example, chlamydia is a common cause of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and can lead to infertility in women.

The only way to be sure if you have an STD or not is to know the symptoms and to get checked on a regular basis. If you know what to look out for, you know what not to ignore. So what are the most common STD symptoms in women? LetsGetChecked has the answers.


Chlamydia Symptoms In Women

Chlamydia has been the most common STD reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1994.

The most recent large scale study of 2016 reports a consistent increase of chlamydia infections. New Hampshire showed the lowest prevalence with 260.6 cases per 100,000 of the population, while Alaska has the highest prevalence with 771.6 cases per 100,000 of the population.

This common bacterial infection is often known as the “silent STD” as it is generally asymptomatic. If symptoms do present, they will normally show up 1-2 weeks after infection. Chlamydia is completely curable with a simple course of antibiotics. Symptoms include:

Symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge in colour and volume
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Bleeding between periods or after sex
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Increased urgency and frequency in urination

Gonorrhea Symptoms In Women

Gonorrhea is most prevalent amongst those aged between 20-24 years of age.
Gonorrhea affects high, middle and low income countries. Gonorrhea is most common in Africa with a consistent rise of 50-100 new infections per 1,000 people each year, followed by the U.S and Canada.

Gonorrhea is common bacterial infection, that may or may not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur they will usually appear within 2-10 days of infection. The good news is that gonorrhea is easily treated with antibiotics once it is diagnosed.

Symptoms include:

  • Yellow, red or slightly green vaginal discharge
  • Watery or creamy vaginal discharge
  • Pain or bleeding during sex
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Heavier periods
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Increased urgency and frequency in urination
  • Sore throat
  • Feeling feverish

Trichomoniasis Symptoms In Women

Trichomoniasis is spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex.

In a survey carried out by American Sexual Health Association, it was found that women perceive trichomoniasis as the least common sexually transmitted disease. Trichomoniasis, is in fact the most common STD, with more than one million new cases occurring in the U.S each year. There is 3.7 million new and existing cases combined in the U.S, which is more than chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea combined.

In the case of this bacterial STD, symptoms are more common in women than men. Symptoms usually appear in 5-28 days of infection. Be on the look-out for:

  • Yellow or green vaginal discharge
  • Thin and frothy vaginal discharge
  • Discomfort when you urinate
  • Itchy vagina
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain during sex

Herpes Symptoms In Women

90% of adults have been exposed to herpes before they reach the age of 50. Herpes Simplex I is also known as the common coldsore. 50-80% of U.S adults have oral herpes at any time.

Herpes Simplex II refers to the viral strain of herpes that causes genital herpes. Herpes sores usually appear on the genitals, rectums and mouth, however they can develop wherever there is exposure to viral fluids. Herpes sores develop as whitlow's on the fingers, thumbs and hands.

There is no cure for herpes, however it can be managed with anti-viral medication following diagnosis.

Symptoms include:

  • Itching, tingling or a burning sensation in the genital or anal area
  • Pain in the legs, buttocks or genital area
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Blisters near where the infection entered the body, these develop into painful open sores
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Muscle aches and pains

HIV Symptoms In Women

At the end of 2014, it was found that 12% of women who suffered from H.I.V in the U.S did not know that they were infected.

Receptive sex is riskier for contracting H.I.V than insertive sex, meaning that women are at a higher risk of contracting H.I.V through vaginal or anal sex. Anal sex is the highest risk sex for H.I.V infection. According to the CDC 2016 study, H.I.V diagnoses in females was most common in heterosexual contact in black women, followed by white women, and thirdly hispanic women. H.I.V diagnoses were most common across black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the U.S.

HIV is a viral infection with no cure. It often presents early on with flu like symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to a long life when infected with the virus. HIV positive individuals can live a near-normal life, provided they start treatment before their immune system is compromised.

Symptoms include:

  • Increased frequency of thrush infections
  • Recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Vomiting
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Unexplained weight-loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes or lesions on the mouth, nose and/or genitals
  • Hot flashes and chills

Prevention is the best cure. Using contraceptives other than condoms will not stop you getting an STD. If your male sexual partner wears a condom correctly every time, you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting an STD. However regular testing remains the only way to be sure you don’t have an STD.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley