Sexually Transmitted Infections Directory & STIs / STDs Symptoms List

A helpful list of STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) along with their typical causes, symptoms & treatment

There’s just no way to discuss sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and make it sound sexy, but adult sex education is undoubtedly a necessity. If even the thought of having an STI makes you feel ill, then it’s best to be in possession of all the facts so you can make sure you’re sexually cleaner than a t-shirt at the end of a laundry detergent ad.

April is STI / STD Awareness Month – and it’s through this awareness and easy to understand/share adult sex education that we have any hope at all of minimising the spread of these illnesses and infections.

With that in mind, check out this A-Z* list of sexually transmitted infections and their common symptoms. Remember, good sex starts and ends with a good sexual health status!

Sexually Transmitted Infections Directory and STIs STDs Symptoms List

List Of STIs & STDs

Amebiasis (aka amoebic dysentery)

Causes: This is an infection of the intestines caused by the parasite entamoeba histolytica. Usual causes are food & water contaminated with stools, as well as oral or rectal contact (including sexual) with an infected person.

Symptoms: Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, excessive gas, rectal pain while having a bowel movement (tenesmus), bloody stools, unintentional weight loss, vomiting, fever.

Treatment: Antibiotics.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Causes: BV is not strictly considered one of the sexually transmitted infections, although it has a tendency to develop after sex with a new partner so I’ve included it for info. It’s caused by gardnerella vaginalis, the most common type of bacteria in the vagina.

BV can develop when the pH levels in the vagina change, due to such things as douching, using scented products such as deodorants internally, and common irritants such as sugars – like glycerine in many sexual lubricants and massage oils.

Symptoms: Unusually coloured discharge (dark yellow, green or grey) which can be accompanied by a strong and unpleasant odour. There may also be an intense itch, plus a burning sensation during urination.

Treatment: Antibiotics.

Chancroid

Causes: The bacterium Haemophilus ducreyi causes a chancroid or ulcer by attacking the tissue in the genital area.

Symptoms: Chancroid is a bacterial infection that causes open sores on or around the genitals of people of any gender. Fluids produced by the open sores are contagious and this can be spread on to others through skin-to-skin and/or sexual contact.

Treatment: Antibiotics, and perhaps surgery (draining any abscesses as required).

Chlamydia

Sexually Transmitted Infections Directory and STIs STDs Symptoms ListCauses: Spread via vaginal, anal or oral sex with infected partners.

Symptoms: Usually, none. However, some people have noticed pain or burning while peeing, pain during sex, lower belly pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, unusual discharge from the penis, swollen or tender testicles, or pain, discharge and/or bleeding around the anus.

Treatment: Antibiotics – for you and for any sexual partners.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Causes: Spread through bodily fluids including saliva, blood and urine. Pregnant people can pass an ‘active’ CMV infection on to their unborn baby (congenital CMV).

Symptoms: Doesn’t always have symptoms, however CMV may present with flu-like symptoms. These may include a high temperature, aching muscles, tiredness, feeling sick, sore throat and/or swollen glands.

Treatment: Symptomless CMV doesn’t usually require treatment. Any symptoms usually get better on their own within 3 weeks. There is currently no treatment for CMV in pregnancy and in most cases the virus doesn’t cause any problems for the baby.

Donovanosis

Causes: This is also known as granuloma inguinale; a rare sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria klebsiella granulomatis. It usually occurs in sub-tropical and tropical regions including, rarely, central and northern Australia. This infection is a risk factor for the transmission of HIV.

Symptoms: Chronic inflammation and scarring of the genitals. Granuloma inguinale typically causes a painless, red lump on or near the genitals, which slowly enlarges, then breaks down to form a sore.

Treatment: Antibiotics.

Endemic Treponematosis

Causes: This is a a group of chronic bacterial infections caused by treponemes – T pallidum pallidum (syphilis), Treponema pallidum pertenue (yaws), Treponema pallidum endemicum (bejel or endemic syphilis), and Treponema carateum (pinta). The venereal syphilis infection is one of the sexually transmitted infections; spread via sexual contact.

Symptoms: Can include ulcers, fever and a rash. The rash won’t be itchy. The first sign is a painless sore at the place the infection entered the body.

Treatment: If the infection isn’t treated, it can move to a secondary phase. It’s best to get the relevant short course of antibiotics as symptoms don’t usually go away on their own.

Epstein Barr Virus (EBV)

Causes: Also known as ‘mono’ or ‘the kissing disease’. It’s spread via saliva, blood and semen.

Symptoms: Not everyone gets symptoms, so you may have/have had EBV without knowing it. Symptoms may take 4-6 weeks to show up. They can include fatigue, fever, lack of appetite, rash, sore throat, swollen glands in the neck or weakness and sore muscles.

Treatment: EBV is a virus meaning that antibiotics are ineffective. Symptoms should clear on their own but over the counter meds can be used to treat aches and pains. Fatigue can linger for a couple of months in some cases.

Genital Herpes

Causes: This STI is passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex.

Symptoms: Symptoms may not show straight away, they can take months to appear. They include small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around your genitals, tingling, burning or itching around the genitals, painful urination, or unusual vaginal discharge.

Treatment: Symptoms clear up on their own but can come back from time to time. There’s no known cure, but antiviral medication can help relieve the symptoms.

Genital Mycoplasma

Causes: Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is a comparatively newly discovered STI. This small, replicating bacterium invades the genital and urinary tract cells and is transmitted mainly through vaginal or anal sex, and less often through oral sex.

Symptoms: Unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, bleeding after intercourse, bleeding between periods, pain during urination, penile urethral discharge, penile irritation and pain.

Treatment: Antibiotics, plus abstaining from sex for 5 weeks after the start of treatment.

Genital Warts

Causes: Genital warts are caused by, and are a symptom of, human papillomavirus (HPV). You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus.

Symptoms: Literally warts, but those which appear in and around the genital areas.

Treatment: There are various treatments available. A liquid or cream applied to the warts, freezing them (by a doctor or nurse) or surgery to remove –but this could cause irritation or scarring.

Giardiasis

Causes: Mainly caused by drinking contaminated water in countries where the water is untreated, or while swimming in contaminated water and some gets in your mouth. However, it can be spread by faecal matter from an infected person getting in your mouth for whatever reason, and through unprotected anal sex. Giardiasis is an infection in the small intestine caused by a microscopic parasite called Giardia lamblia.

Symptoms: The main symptoms are diarrhoea, tummy cramps, increased flatulence, sulphuric-smelling burps, bloating, weight loss.

Treatment: Antibiotics.

Gonorrhea

Causes: Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium neisseria gonorrhoeae. It’s most often spread during sexual contact, including oral, anal or vaginal intercourse.

Symptoms: May include unusual vaginal discharge, pain or a burning sensation during urination, a painful lower abdominal area, bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, unusual penile discharge, inflammation of the penis’ foreskin, testicular pain or tenderness.

Treatment: Antibiotics – usually in the form of one injection to the thigh or buttocks, followed by one antibiotic tablet. It might be possible to avoid the injection and have two tablets instead, in some cases.

Hepatitis

Sexually Transmitted Infections Directory and STIs STDs Symptoms ListHepatitis are liver-affecting viruses. There are various types, which I’ll summarise below:

Hepatitis A

Causes: Caused by the hepatitis A virus, which is spread through infected faecal matter. Therefore, it can be spread through poor sanitation and hygiene standards (contaminated water, or food washed in contaminated water) as well as through anal contact and sex with someone infected.

Symptoms: If any symptoms develop, they may take around 4 weeks to appear after becoming infected. Initial symptoms may include feeling tired and generally unwell, joint and muscle pain, a raised temperature, loss of appetite, feeling or being sick, pain in the upper right part of your tummy, a headache, sore throat and cough, constipation or diarrhoea, a raised, itchy rash (hives). Later symptoms may include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark pee, pale poo, itchy skin, the upper right part of your tummy becoming swollen and tender.

Treatment: There’s no cure, but it usually gets better by itself within a couple of months. There is a vaccine available to people deemed high-risk or who plans to travel to areas where there is a higher risk of contracting hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B

Causes: This is a liver infection caused by a virus which is spread through blood and body fluids. There are many ways it could be spread, one of which is through unprotected sex (of any type) with an infected person.

Symptoms: It often does not cause any symptoms in adults (it can be incredibly severe in children however). If there are any symptoms, they may only show 2-3 months after getting the virus. They can look just like flu or a tummy bug, and could include tiredness, general aches and pains, high temperature, a general sense of feeling unwell, loss of appetite, feeling and being sick, diarrhoea, tummy pain, jaundiced skin and eyes, dark urine, pale, grey-coloured poo.

Treatment: Depends on whether the hepatitis B virus is mild or acute in the affected person. Treatment may just be to relieve any symptoms if short-term, or medication to keep it under control and protect the liver in chronic situations. There is a hepatitis B vaccine –this is offered to all babies in the UK at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, as well as to people considered at high-risk.

Hepatitis C

Causes: The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mainly spread through infected blood, although other bodily fluids can also contain the virus. It is usually spread through injecting drugs using contaminated needles, unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions.
You cannot catch hepatitis C from kissing, social contact such as hugging, sharing kitchen utensils or via toilet seats.

Symptoms: This is a liver disease therefore it can range in severity from mild and lasting a few weeks, to a serious and lifelong illness. Hep C is a major cause of liver cancer. Symptoms usually present a few weeks after infection and can include a high temperature, tiredness, loss of appetite, tummy pains, feeling and being sick. 20% of infected people will have jaundiced eyes and skin.

Treatment: If left untreated, Hep C can cause cirrhosis of the liver which could become life-threatening. There are various courses of tablets available to clear the infection from the body. There is currently no vaccine against it.

Hepatitis D

Causes: Hep D is caused by the hepatitis D virus, which needs the hepatitis B virus to already be present in the body in order to survive. Therefore, it only affects those already infected with hep B. It’s spread through infected blood or sexual contact with those infected.

Symptoms: Symptoms are pretty much the same as for hepatitis B. Long term infection with both hep D and hep B can heighten the risk of serious health problems such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Treatment: There is currently no specific hepatitis D vaccine, but the hepatitis B vaccine can help prevent getting it (as hep D needs hep B to already be present in the body).

Hepatitis E 

Causes: Hepatitis E isn’t a sexually transmitted infection or disease, but I wanted to include it here with the other forms for comparison purposes. It’s mainly associated with eating under-cooked pork, boar, venison or shellfish, and eating in areas of the world with poor sanitation and water hygiene measures.

Symptoms: Typical symptoms for hepatitis, but more of a mild and short-term version. It can turn serious in those with a weaker immune system or pre-existing liver conditions and problems.

Treatment: It’s usually a short-term infection which doesn’t require treatment, and there’s currently no vaccine against it.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Causes: HIV is transmitted through infected blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. Therefore, it’s spread through unprotected sex (anal or vaginal, although it’s possible through oral sex as well) as well as activities like sharing drug needles.

HIV is not transmitted by spitting, kissing, being bitten, contact with unbroken, healthy skin, being sneezed on, sharing baths, towels or cutlery, using the same toilets or swimming pools, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or contact with animals or insects like mosquitoes.

Symptoms: HIV infects the immune system, attaching itself to cells (CD4 lymphocyte cells in the immune system) and weakening it against infections. It replicates within those cells then leaves, causing them to die. Over time (which can be up to ten years) the immune system therefore stops working entirely. Most infected people suffer with a flu-like illness in the 2-6 weeks after becoming infected. After this, there may not be any symptoms for years.

After the immune system damage has become more established – often after years, as mentioned – the symptoms can include weight loss, chronic diarrhoea, night sweats, skin problems, recurrent infections and serious life-threatening illnesses.

Treatment: You can get tested for HIV through various services, including going to a sexual health clinic or your doctor. You can also test for HIV in the privacy and comfort of your own home, with home HIV testing kits. There’s currently no cure for HIV, but medication is available which enables those infected to live a long and healthy life.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Causes: HPV is a group of viruses which may not cause problems for many people, but some types can cause genital warts or cancer. It is spread through intimate contact which does not have to involve penetrative sex; genital contact, vaginal, oral or anal sex, and sharing sex toys are the main causes.

Symptoms: Mostly there are no symptoms, but sometimes HPV causes genital warts or may turn cells cancerous.

Treatment: HPV is tested for during routine cervical screenings. There’s no treatment for HPV itself, but it clears itself within 2 years. Treatment is available for symptoms of HPV, such as genital warts.

Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV-1)

Causes: HTLV-1, also known as human T-cell leukemia virus, can be transmitted through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions, breast milk and organ transplants. The most common ways it is passed on are through unprotected sex, drug users sharing used needles/syringes, mother to child via breastfeeding or through blood transfusions or organ transplants.

This is a retrovirus that infects a certain white blood cell called a T-cell or T-lymphocyte. HTLV-1 has been around and has infected humans for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Symptoms: This virus can cause a type of blood cancer or inflammatory disease. It may also contribute to inflammation of the eye (uveitis), joints (arthritis), muscles (myositis), lung (alveolitis) and skin (dermatitis).

Treatment: There is currently no known cure and there’s no vaccine against it. Those infected may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)

Causes: This is a chlamydia bacteria which infects the lymph nodes, an important part of the body’s defence against infections. It is mainly transmitted through the delicate moist skin of the rectum and penis. The vagina can also be infected, as can the mouth and throat, via contact with infected persons and areas.

Unprotected anal sex and anal fisting are the usual causes, as well as sharing relevant sex toys or during group sex where penile, anal, vaginal and oral areas may become infected through various sexual activities.

Symptoms: Nearly all LGV infections present in the rectum. There’s painful inflammation with bleeding, pus, constipation or ulcers. There may also be general fever, groin rash or swelling or swellings in the armpit or neck. Penile LGV can cause a discharge as well as painful urination.

Treatment: LGV can cause lasting rectal damage which may require surgery. Treated early, antibiotics can clear LGV without any lasting effects.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Causes: Molluscum contagiosum (MC) can be spread through close direct contact like touching the skin of an infected person, or contaminated objects like towels and toys, or can be one of the sexually transmitted infections and spread sexual contact and/or intercourse.

Symptoms: MC is a viral infection which affects the skin. Spots develop in small clusters, and they are easily identified by medical professionals. They’re small, firm, raised spots with a small dimple in the middle. They are not painful, but they may be itchy.

Treatment: The infection usually clears up on its own with time, but topical liquids, gels or creams may be provided if it is severely affecting quality of life.

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Causes: Pubic lice are caught and spread through sexual contact with an infected person.

Symptoms: There’s itching in the affected areas, especially at night which is when the lice are most active. There is likely to be inflammation and irritation caused by scratching, black powder in your underwear and blue spots or small spots of blood on your skin, such as on your thighs or lower abdomen (caused by lice bites). Itching is an allergic reaction to pubic lice’s saliva.

Treatment: Pubic lice can be treated at home with a special insecticide cream, lotion or shampoo as advised by the doctor. The treatment needs repeating 7 days later to get rid of any newly hatched lice. Anyone else you’ve had close sexual contact or sex with also needs treating.

Scabies

Causes: Scabies are passed person to person through skin to skin contact, which obviously can include sexual contact and sex.

Symptoms: Tiny mites lay eggs in the skin which causes itchy skin and a rash. The rash can spread across the whole body.

Treatment: Scabies is very infectious. It can be treated by a cream or lotion available from a pharmacist. The treatment needs reapplying 7 days later. Anyone you’ve had sex or sexual contact with should also be treated.

Syphilis

Causes: The chronic bacterial infection leading to syphilis (T pallidum pallidum, one of the Endemic Treponematosis mentioned earlier) is usually spread by sexual contact.

Symptoms: Can include ulcers, fever and a rash. The rash won’t be itchy. The first sign is a painless sore at the place the infection entered the body.

Treatment: If the infection isn’t treated, it can move to a secondary phase. It’s best to get the relevant short course of antibiotics as symptoms don’t usually go away on their own.

Trichomoniasis (Trich)

Causes: Trich is very common and is caused by a single-cell protozoan organism called trichomonas vaginalis. It travels from person to person through genital contact during sex.

It is not spread through physical contact such as hugging, kissing, sharing dishes, sitting on a toilet seat or sexual contact which doesn’t involve the genitals.

Symptoms: An infection in the vagina or urethra (or both) causes unusual, smelly and frothy vaginal discharge, vaginal spotting or bleeding, genital burning or itching, genital redness or swelling, frequent urge to urinate, pain during urination, after penile ejaculation or during sexual intercourse, penile urethral discharge.

Treatment: It’s easily treated with antibiotics.

Vulvo-Vaginal Candidiasis (Thrush) 

Sexually Transmitted Infections Directory and STIs STDs Symptoms ListCauses: A yeast, most often candida albicans, causes candidiasis – commonly known as a vaginal yeast infection or thrush. We have plenty of friendly bacteria within us, including the yeast ‘candida’.

Most of the time there’s no problem but an overgrowth of vaginal candida causes irritating symptoms. It’s not strictly an STI although it can be aggravated by sex, and by using products which can sometimes trigger thrush such as sugars and soaps. It affects 75% of people who have a vagina on at least one occasion over a lifetime.

Symptoms: Overgrowth of vaginal candida can result in a white, curd-like vaginal discharge, plus itching and a painful burning sensation in the vagina and vulva. It can be painful to urinate.

Treatment: Effective treatments are widely available and without a prescription from various pharmaceutical outlets. Some are topical, like a cream or pessary, while others are medicine to be swallowed orally.

Yeast Infections 

Causes: Yeast infections are the multiplication of fungus (yeast) in or on the body. They’re not usually transmitted person to person and aren’t considered sexually transmitted infections, but sex and sexual contact can aggravate certain types, so I’ve included them here. The three types are Vaginal candidiasis, Thrush (oral and esophagus) and Invasive.

For the symptoms and treatment of vaginal-oriented yeast infections, please see Vulvo-Vaginal Candidiasis above.

Get Checked

Sexually Transmitted Infections Directory and STIs STDs Symptoms ListRather than adopting a wait-and-see attitude to sexually transmitted infections, all sexually active adults should regularly visit their sexual health clinic for professional check-ups.

Although the above list gives some common symptoms for STIs, the list is not exhaustive – and not all sexually transmitted infections (or other illnesses) have easy to spot symptoms, as we’ve learned. It’s imperative that you don’t stick your head in the sand and ignore the importance of getting yourself checked regularly.

In a similar vein, you should be getting regular cervical screening tests, if you have a cervix, to ensure you’re in good gynaecological health.

Not only is getting yourself regularly checked at a sexual health clinic kind to yourself, it’s also the decent thing to do when you’re having regular sex (of any kind). Perhaps “I’ve got a clean bill of sexual health” isn’t the best chat-up line – but it can all too often be an assumed status when you’re moving things from bar to bed, or from a friendship to fuck buddies. If you do have a chance to have a relaxed, rational, no pressure chat before having sex, then each of your sexual health statuses should ideally be mentioned and partners reassured (truthfully).

Safe Sex

STIs ListIt should go without saying, but: have safe sex every time. This means either using condoms or a barrier method of contraception for penis in vagina sex (the Pill and implant only help prevent pregnancy not STIs), for anal sex and blowjobs, and dental dams when rimming or giving cunnilingus (vaginal oral sex).
Click to read our condom reviews.

If you do happen to get one of the sexually transmitted infections, it’s important to visit your doctor and let them know as soon as you can. The doctor can give you advice on how to deal with the infection, whether that’s giving you the medication to clear the symptoms and all traces in due course, or advice on living with the condition if it’s a permanent type.

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References: 

NHS website 

Medical Institute

MedicineNet

Healthline

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I seriously cannot get enough from reading your blog posts. When I have down time I always stop by. I am so glad you write this article. We did one similar but did not cover all the STD’s you did on here. I really believe that people need to be informed. Why sex is fantastic, we have to realize that there is these nasty things we need to consider.

    We never shame anyone for their sexual practices, but to make sure the information is out there so everyone involved can make an educated system is fantastic! Keep up the good work and education!

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