Some symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common, well-known and instantly recognisable. Most people will be troubled if they get genital sores, unusual discharge or painful sensations in the genital area.
In other instances, however, telling that you have an STD will become a lot trickier. That’s because various infections produce atypical symptoms (if any at all).
Are there some unorthodox and less common signs of STDs that could still point you in the direction of seeking medical assistance for the issue? The short answer is yes and here are some of the potential atypical signs you could be suffering from a sexually transmitted disease.
We are all familiar with cold and flu symptoms. Headaches, fevers and chills, a general sense of weakness, nasal congestion, sore throat – these are common issues you could face when coming down with the flu.
In some instances, however, such symptoms could be indicative of something more serious.
Flu-like symptoms have been recognised as an expression of an early-onset HIV infection.
If you are sexually active (especially if you’ve engaged in unprotected intercourse), you cannot rule such an infection out. The best way to determine what’s going on is to get tested a few weeks after the encounter where you think you might have been exposed to HIV. If this is within 72 hours after the encounter, quickly call us or any other sexual health clinic to get tested to be prescribed HIV PrEP – this prevents you from getting infected by up to 99%.
Fevers, headaches, night sweats, fatigue and even vomiting could be indicative of the human immunodeficiency virus entering the body, replicating and affecting the functioning of the immune system. In most HIV-positive individuals, such symptoms will resolve shortly. They will go through a long asymptomatic period until the disease progresses.
Don’t wait for your symptoms to become more serious until seeking out professional assistance. You should get tested (once per year if you’re in a monogamous relationship, several times per year if you’re not) for HIV in a reputable sexual health clinic. This STD is no longer a death sentence and the sooner you find out what’s going on, the sooner you can seek treatment.
Abdominal pains and aches are very common among people experiencing food poisoning or a typical stomach bug.
These, however, can sometimes be an uncommon sign of an STD.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are two conditions that can progress quickly. If this happens and they’re not treated, the diseases can affect the pelvic and abdominal areas. The resulting condition is called pelvic inflammatory disease or PID.
PID’s symptoms include lower tummy aches, feeling sick, a fever, bleeding between periods, heavier than usual periods and painful intercourse. If left untreated, PID can contribute to some very serious complications, including infertility.
If you’re having lower abdominal aches for a few days or more, see a doctor. Chances are that the cause isn’t serious but you need to rule out a potentially big problem.
Almost nobody out there will be capable of establishing a link between joint aches and sexually transmitted diseases.
Usually, such symptoms are experienced after the infection has been progressing latently for a certain period of time. As they progress, some viruses and bacteria can start attacking the joints. In these instances, infected people will have to deal with arthritis-like symptoms.
Arthritis-like pains could also occur in the case of chlamydia and gonorrhoea infections. In that case, the condition is called venereal or gonococcal arthritis. If you get tested often enough and you seek medical attention for an STD immediately, you’re not going to have a condition progressing to such an extent.
As weird as this may seem, an eye infection could be linked to an STD.
The eye is a mucosal surface, much like the genital area. Thus, if you touch a mucous membrane that’s affected by a virus or a bacterium and you touch your eyes after, you can help that pathogen spread. Conditions that have been known to cause eye infections include syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
Keep in mind this is a serious problem you shouldn’t underestimate. In some parts of the world, sexually transmitted infections are still a major cause of vision impairments and even blindness. If you’re dealing with eye problems, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Rest and home remedies are not going to help resolve the situation.
Genital rashes and sores are an immediate source of concern that will prompt a visit to a gynaecologist or urologist. When a rash occurs on a part of the body like the arm or the leg, however, few people would think that they could have an STD.
HIV and syphilis are two of the STDs that can lead to the appearance of hives and other kinds of rashes on the skin.
If you experience itchiness, redness or the appearance of small bumps on any part of your body, do see a dermatologist or an allergologist. These medical professionals will take a thorough history to determine what the cause of the rash could be. In most cases, it’s going to be an allergic reaction or a skin condition caused by a parasite. Sometimes, however, medical professionals will need to dig a bit deeper to discover a seemingly unrelated cause.
Even if you’re having mild symptoms or some kind of discomfort, don’t ignore those (especially if they continue for a prolonged period of time). Your body is trying to tell you something and seeing a doctor will help you decipher the message.
Also, get tested for STDs regularly. By going for screening in sexual health facilities like Shim Clinic, you’ll rule out some of the most serious causes of unusual symptoms.