How Can You Tell If A Person Has A Sexually Transmitted Infection?

For the modern day sexually active individual, having consent to sex is a huge decision that entails a lot of soul searching, weighing the pros and cons of engaging in the act. The act comes with a fair share of outcomes and complications with unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections top on the list. Is a person likely to have a sexually transmitted infection that could spread to me? This is a question that most people face just before engaging into sexual intercourse with an unknown person. Little known to them is that you can hardly tell whether one is suffering from a sexually transmitted infection. Sometimes even the affected person is not aware that he is suffering from a disease.

Risk Factors For Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Some habits are known to raise one’s chances of having a sexually transmitted infection. They include having multiple sexual partners, having early onset, regular and unprotected sex, high risk sexual partner such as a commercial sex worker and use of birth control pills instead of barrier methods that are known to offer some protection against the diseases. Getting tested is the surest way of telling whether someone has a sexually transmitted infection. However, the treatment of most sexually transmitted diseases is done by their symptomatic profile and laboratory testing is only required for confirmation more so in low resource settings. Thus, one can actually tell which sexually transmitted infection a person is suffering from based on their symptoms.

How Can You Tell If A Person Has A Sexually Transmitted Infection?

How to tell if someone is suffering from a sexually transmitted infection based on their symptom profile? Sexually transmitted infections can be classified based on their nature of presentation. The most common sexually transmitted infections are those that present with mucopurulent discharge. Gonorrhea presents with yellowish-green mucopurulent discharge and other features include frequent urination, painful urination and rectal discomfort. In addition to this, chlamydial infection, the most common sexually transited infection among women, presents with clear white discharge. The disease has the ability to remain for long within the body unlike other sexually transmitted infections.

Another group of sexually transmitted infections present with ulcerative lesions. Herpes simplex presents with painful lesions that may affect the genital or oral mucus membranes. Herpes simplex type 1 is also known as oral herpes as it presents with sores in the mouth and around the face while herpes simplex type 2 is known as genital herpes as it presents with genital ulceration. Syphilis presents with very painful sores known as chancres. The disease has the ability to worsen very fast leading to neurological damage and disability. Painless ulcerative lesions are seen with lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). Other sexually transmitted diseases that present with spots and bumps include molluscum contagiosum whose bumps have a central pit made up of a whitish segment that is shed to transmit the infection and genital warts due to human papilloma virus whose lesions are cauliflower like growths that take long to clear up.

The third group of sexually transmitted infections includes those that present with itchiness of the genital region. The polymicrobial bacterial vaginosis in women is the commonest entity that has a foul-smelling discharge in addition to the dysuria and valvular irritation that causes irresistible itching. Another disease in this category is candidiasis that presents with the unique curdy-white milky discharge dominated by itchy feeling.

Above all, it is important to appreciate that most sexually transmitted diseases have an asymptomatic period between inoculation with the causative organism and presentation which may take several weeks. During this period, it is difficult to rule out presence of any infection. Moreover, the diseases may be very severe to cause symptoms that suggest a more severe disease such as urethritis, cervicitis and urinary tract infection that presents with abdominal-pelvic pain and constitutional symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.


The best approach to prevention of acquiring sexually transmitting diseases is not to identify and avoid people with the diseases, but to engage in protected sex only or abstain altogether.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 17, 2018

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