STD Symptoms in Men: The Silent Threat

STD Symptoms in Men - The truth on sexually transmited diseases

Navigating the realm of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be a daunting task, given the wide array of diseases, each with its unique set of symptoms. Moreover, the complexity of the subject is further compounded by the fact that not everyone who contracts an STD will exhibit symptoms.

This silent transmission often leads to unnoticed and, therefore, untreated infections, making STDs a significant public health concern.

Despite these challenges, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of STD symptoms to protect yourself and your partners. In this article, we’ll attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of various STD symptoms, keeping in mind the complexity and diversity of these diseases.

It’s important to note that this article is written from the perspective of a man as the insertive partner. In other words, we’ll be discussing the potential STDs a man can contract from engaging in sexual activities involving his penis and his partner’s mouth, vagina, or anus.

Remember, knowledge is the first step towards prevention. By understanding the potential risks and symptoms associated with STDs, you can make informed decisions about your sexual health and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your partners. Let’s dive in and unravel the complexities of STD symptoms.

You can classify the possible symptoms into 3 groups:

  1. Urinary Symptoms: Pain passing urine, Discharge, etc
  2. Skin Symptoms: Growths, Ulcers, etc
  3. General Symptoms: Fever, Swollen Lymph nodes, etc

1. Urinary Symptoms

These are by far the commonest STD symptoms you will see because the STDs that cause them are the commonest STDs there are.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain or discomfort when passing urine: This is usually felt in the urine tube within the penis (urethra) or at the tip of the penis. Some people describe it as ‘burning’ some describe it as an ítch’. Gonorrhea usually causes more pain. Chlamydia has less pain or hardly any pain at all, just a weird sensation. Trichomonas causes more itching.
  • Discharge from the penis: Yellow, white, or clear liquid coming out from the tip of the penis.  Gonorrhea usually causes more yellow and high-volume discharge. Enough to make a whole mess of your clothes. Most of my patients with Gonorrhea have to put a tissue around the tip of the penis to collect the discharge. Chlamydia and NSU cause a discharge of much less volume and also less yellow.
  • Pain or discomfort in the testis: This is a symptom quite classical of Chlamydia. The discomfort can range from very mild to quite severe. There might even be some swelling of the scrotum but this is rare.

Who are the culprits?

  • Chlamydia – the commonest STD in the world
  • Gonorrhea
  • Ureaplasma Urealyticum
  • Mycoplasma hominis
  • Other NSU bacteria
  • Trichomonas

When do they appear?

Classically we are taught 3 to 30 days.

Gonorrhea usually presents the earliest. As early as 2 days from exposure. 90% of people will get symptoms in 1 week.

Chlamydia usually takes a bit longer. Most patients will show symptoms only at about 2 weeks post-exposure. Bear in mind that 80% of people infected with Chlamydia will not show any symptoms at all.

2. Skin Symptoms

Skin Symptoms - STDs in men

This is also extremely common.

Symptoms include:

  • Ulcers: Do not mistake ulcers for lumps or pimples on the skin. Ulcers are actual breaks or craters on the skin. They are always wet looking. If the ulcers are painful, small (3mm to 5mm), multiple (3 to 5 at least), and surrounded by red skin, it is likely to be Herpes. If there is only 1 ulcer, it is painless and rather big (8mm or bigger) it is likely to be Syphilis. If it is 1 ulcer, big and very painful with very swollen and painful lymph nodes along your groin crease, it is likely to be a Chancroid (Haemophilus Ducreyi).
  • Growths: What we are talking about here are lumps and bumps on the skin. If the lump is skin-colored and looks like a cauliflower, it is likely a wart caused by HPV. If the lumps look like little pearls stuck onto the skin, it is likely to be Molluscum Contagiosum Virus.
  • Blisters: Blisters are small fluid-filled sacs on the skin. They look like little bubbles on the skin. These are almost always caused by Herpes.
  • Itch: This is typical of lice and scabies. The itch is usually very bad and persistent. It can be a lot worse at night. Under good lighting, the lice can be seen on the skin. It usually hides in dark hair-bearing areas like underneath the scrotum.

Who are the culprits?

  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • Molluscum Contagiosum Virus (MCV)
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • Scabies and Lice

When do they appear?

Syphilis 9 to 90 days. Herpes as early as 1 week or as late as months later. The same applies to HPV and MCV. They can appear within a couple of weeks of infection or can take months or even years before they appear.

Symptoms for Scabies and Lice usually occur very soon after infection.

3. General Symptoms

General Symptoms on STDs in men

These are the most confusing. They are called ‘General Symptoms’ because the same symptoms are caused by many different diseases most of which have nothing to do with STDs at all.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever: Anything and everything causes fever. From your common cold to HIV. So if you do develop a fever after a sexual exposure, see your doctor but there is no reason to panic.
  • Rash: Again a non-specific symptom. Could be caused by an allergy or HIV or Syphilis. The HIV rash looks like measles and usually appears 3 weeks from exposure. The Syphilis rash looks like red spots with flaky skin around them. Classically they appear on the palms and soles which is rare for other rashes. They can appear anytime from 2 to 6 months after infection.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: The lymph nodes are part of the body’s natural defenses. When one part of the body is infected, the lymph nodes surrounding it will swell and sometimes become painful. This is the way the body fights the infection. Swollen lymph nodes occur all the time. Even the common cold can cause lymph nodes to swell. If the lymph nodes along the groin crease (inguinal lymph nodes) are swollen, this can suggest infections like Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Chancroid. If other lymph nodes like on the neck or under the armpits are swollen, this is too general to know if they are caused by STDs or not.
  • Loss of appetite: Feeling weak, loss of interest in smoking. I put these symptoms here because they can be caused by Hepatitis. But I’m sure you can appreciate that almost any illness, even anxiety, can cause these symptoms.

Who are the culprits?

  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis
  • Herpes

When do they appear?

Usually about 2 to 3 weeks after infection. But they can appear as late as 6 weeks from infection.

Final Words

In conclusion, understanding the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is a crucial aspect of maintaining your sexual health. While the symptoms can vary widely, being aware of changes in your body and seeking medical advice when something seems off is key.

Remember, many STDs can be effectively treated or managed, especially when detected early in men and women. Both have similar symptoms. So, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional if you notice any unusual symptoms. Stay informed, stay safe, and remember that your health is in your hands.

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