What are the most common STDs found in men?


A study by LetsGetChecked last October can reveal that chlamydia and syphilis are ranking as the most common STDs in men.

Historical psychology reports that men think about sex every seven seconds, that’s over 8,000 times a day, during waking hours. This accepted myth would denote that men don’t have time for much else. While sex is an important part of life, it might not happen every seven seconds.

This myth is debunked by a study led by Dr. Terri Fisher, a professor at Ohio State University which suggests that the average man actually thinks about sex 19 times per day or less and that thought processes around sex match those of food and sleeping in numbers.

Regardless of how much men are supposedly thinking about, or having sex according to studies, it's important to be aware of the risk attached to having unprotected sex. Contracting an STD doesn’t make you promiscuous or dirty. STDs are an occupational hazard and the likelihood of contracting one is proportional to the level of protection used and the number of sexual partners one has.

In a study carried out by LetsGetChecked, it was found that:

  • Chlamydia is the most prevalent STD among straight men.

  • Syphilis is the most prevalent STD among bisexual and gay men.

  • The most common STD symptoms reported by men is unusual discharge from the penis, painful urination and lumps on the penis and anus.

  • More men purchase at home STD testing kits than women.

It was reported that chlamydia, syphilis gonorrhea were at an all time high in 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases continue to rise globally, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms to look out for.


Chlamydia is the most common STD found in men according to the study and the second most common STD worldwide after HPV or Human Papillomavirus. In women, it is generally asymptomatic, and for that reason it goes largely unnoticed. In men, there is a 70% chance that you will experience symptoms.

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection caused by chlamydia trachomatis. It generally develops in genital tracts, for men, this is the penis. Chlamydia can also develop in the throat or rectum following anal or oral sex with an infected partner.

Urine tests detect bacteria only in the genital area while rectal and oral chlamydia can be detected using swabs. While the thought of chlamydia can be daunting, it is a very treatable STD using antibiotics.

The Central Disease Centre reported 1.6 million cases of chlamydia in 2016 in the U.S.

In 2017, the California Department of Public Health reported that there was a 218,710 cases of chlamydia, the highest rate of infection since 1990.

St. Louis in Missouri retained the highest infection rate per capita according to STDAware .

What are the symptoms of Chlamydia?

Chlamydia will not present symptoms until 1 to 3 weeks after sexual contact with someone who is carrying the disease. The symptoms of chlamydia include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Testicular pain
  • Painful urination
  • Unusual discharge from the penis
  • Feeling feverish
  • Sore throat
  • Anal discharge


In a study carried out by LetsGetChecked it was found that syphilis is the most common sexually transmitted disease among MSM (men who have sex with men). Globally there has been a 14% increase in cases of syphilis since 2014.

Syphilis is an STI caused by bacterium treponema pallidum. It occurs in four stages which present with different symptoms. These stages include primary, secondary, latent and tertiary. The tertiary stage can affect the heart and brain and occurs 10-30 years after infection is untreated.

You are at a higher risk of contracting syphilis if you have unprotected sex. According to Dr. Dominic Rowley “ one of the most common ways if getting syphilis is via oral sex and as the majority of people don’t use condoms for oral sex, this is adding to the current epidemic.”

If you are starting a new relationship, it is recommended to ask them about their sexual health.

Symptoms of the Primary Stage Syphilis

  • The most common symptoms of primary stage syphilis include

  • Painless sores or ulcers on the mouth, skin and rectum.

  • Swollen lymph nodes appearing in the areas of the sores or ulcer.

  • Chancres developing where the infection entered the body. Chancres are round, painless sores, that generally only last 3 to 6 weeks regardless of treatment. They often go unnoticed as they are painless.

Symptoms of Secondary Stage Syphilis

  • Skin rashes - salmon pink rash on soles of feet and palms of hands
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and joint pain

Symptoms of Latent Syphilis

There are no visible signs and symptoms of syphilis during the tertiary stage which means that a sufferer of the disease may believe that the STD has been eradicated or that they were misdiagnosed by their doctors or themselves. Early latent syphilis occurs when the infection occur within two years. The late latent stage is defined as over two years.

Symptoms of Tertiary Syphilis

Tertiary syphilis is a rare condition but develops over time when due to a subset of untreated syphilis infections. It can appear 10-30 years after the infection was first acquired, even if there were no symptoms presenting during this time.

Over this time, tertiary syphilis can infiltrate the bloodstream, nervous system, liver, bones and joints. Symptoms and conditions caused by tertiary syphilis depend on the organ that has become infected.

These include:

Neurosyphilis occurs when syphilis has infiltrated the nervous system.

  • Headache
  • Issues with coordination
  • Differences in personality
  • Sensory deficits
  • Paralysis
  • Dementia

Ocular syphilis occurs when syphilis has infiltrated organs associated with sight. Ocular syphilis can cause decreased vision quality to complete blindness.

As stated, the most common STD symptoms found in men based on LetsGetChecked data include unusual discharge from the penis, painful urination and lumps and bumps around the penis and/or anus. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to get an STD test, visit your doctor or GUM clinic. The longer someone has been diagnosed with an STD, the higher the risk of developing more serious health conditions.

Worried you might have an STD? Buy an STD Test here.

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley