STI symptoms

If you are concerned that you might have symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or if you feel different come and see us. The sooner you get it checked, the better.

Below are the common symptoms of STIs to look out for and the possible sexually transmitted infections that these may be caused by.

Not sure when to test for an infection?

If you have any of the above symptoms you should arrange an appointment or attend the walk-in service as soon as possible. If you have no symptoms, then:

  • 2 weeks following sexual contact to test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea
  • 1 month following sexual contact to test for HIV
  • 3 months following sexual contact to test for Syphilis or Hepatitis

If you have no genital symptoms, request an online test kit.

Bleeding after sex

Most women have a menstrual cycle that can be regular, or irregular. If you are regular, your period could range from every two weeks to several months – this can be normal. You should not bleed after sex, or in between your periods. If you do, you should see a doctor to check possible causes. These may include:

  • Sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia
  • Hormonal problems
  • Effects of hormonal contraception
  • Problems with the cervix (neck of the womb)
  • Problems inside the womb

Causes of bleeding after sex or in between periods include:

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia

Discharge from the penis

It is not normal for anything other than urine or semen to come out of your penis. If you have a discharge, which can vary from clear or grey to bright green, then you may have an infection.

Causes of discharge from the penis include:

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Non-specific urethritis (NSU)
  • Trichomoniasis

Itching of the genitals

If you have itching around your genitals, possible causes include:

  • Thrush (yeast infection)
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Scabies
  • Crabs (pubic lice)
  • Herpes
  • Eczema and other skin conditions

Lower abdominal pain

Many women experience pain just before and at the beginning of their period (period pains). This usually eases as you get older.

It is not normal to experience pelvic pain or pain low down in your tummy. If you do have this sort of pain, or deep pain during intercourse, it might relate to a problem with a sexually transmitted infection.

If you experience any of these symptoms, or abnormal vaginal discharge, you should come for a check-up. We can then check if you have any sexually transmitted infections.

Possible causes of lower abdominal pain include:

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

Lumps on the genitals

The genital area is covered by skin in both men and women. This area of skin contains lots of glands and is also covered in hair, so it is not uncommon to get lumps and bumps in this area – just as you might in any other area where there is skin, e.g. blocked hair follicle, blocked gland.

In men, there are parts of the genitals where it is normal to have lumps. Some men have small round lumps the size of a pin-head just under the head of their penis (helmet) which are called ‘penile papules’. These are normal.

In women, there are parts of the vagina where it is also normal to have lumps. Many women who examine their vaginas for the first time, may see or feel lumps that may seem worrying. These are likely to be a normal part of the vagina called ‘vulval papillae’ or could just be part of the opening to the vagina. If you are unsure or worried, we can take a look for you.

While there are lumps and bumps that are perfectly normal, you should also keep an eye out for anything unusual.

Sexually transmitted conditions that cause lumps on the genitals include:

  • Genital warts
  • Molluscum Contagiosum
  • Scabies

If you are worried, come and see us. We will check to see if you have a sexually transmitted condition (STI), and then offer you appropriate treatment.

Lumps on the testicles

It is important for men to regularly examine their testicles (balls) to get a good idea of what is normal – then it’s easier to notice if something has changed. The testicle feels like a hard-boiled egg – smooth, firm and oval. Around the back and over the top is a structure called the ‘epididymis’ which feels a bit like a worm or cord. It is very common to get small lumps in this area, they might feel a bit like small grapes, they are called ‘epididymal cysts’. These are nothing to worry about.

If you discover a lump interrupting the smooth surface of your testicle, or any other lumps, it is really important to see a doctor to get it checked out. Cancer in the testicles can occur in young men, as well as older men, and if detected early can be treated very successfully.

Pain in the testicle

The testicles (balls) should not be painful. Some men experience very severe pain as well as redness and swelling of the scrotum (ball bag or sack). This may be because of a sexually transmitted infection, but can also be due to a condition called ‘torsion of the testicles’. If you have any pain, redness and swelling, you should see a doctor urgently to find out if it is torsion (as this requires an urgent operation).

If you experience any sort of pain in your testicles, mild or chronic, you should see your doctor to exclude infection or other causes.

Pain, discharge or bleeding from the bottom

Sexually transmitted infections can cause pain, discharge or bleeding from the bottom (anus) but usually as a result of direct exposure. If you haven’t had anal sex, then your symptoms are unlikely to be caused by an STI.

Causes of discharge, pain and bleeding from the anus includes:

  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)
  • Herpes
  • Anal fissure
  • Haemorrhoids

If you are worried, come to the clinic and we do some tests and give you any appropriate treatment.

Ulcers and/or blisters on the genitals

If you have blisters or ulcers on your genital area, you may have an infection called herpes. This can also present as an itch, or small cuts, on the genital area. Genital ulcers can also be caused by syphilis.

If you are concerned, we would advise that you come to clinic so we can take a look.

Vaginal discharge

It is normal to have vaginal discharge. It usually varies in colour and consistency throughout your menstrual cycle.

However, if your discharge changes, you may have an infection. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Increased discharge
  • Strong smell, sometimes fishy
  • Change in colour and/or consistency
  • Itching around the outside and inside the vagina
  • Bleeding in between your period
  • Tummy pain and/or pain during intercourse
  • Soreness outside the vagina

Infections that can cause an abnormal vaginal discharge include:

  • Thrush (yeast infection)
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Trichomonas vaginalis (TV)
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Chlamydia
  • Herpes