The good news? Most of the time abnormal discharge, vaginal itchiness or a slight irritation is no major cause for concern. However, it’s always worth having it checked by your OB/GYN in case there is something more to it.

The not-so-good news? Some of the most common symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are similar to more harmless conditions. For example, you may mistake a small lesion as an in-grown hair. Or you may chalk up vaginal itch and excess discharge as a yeast infection, when it’s actually a symptom of something much more serious.

5 Common Symptoms of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

In other words, don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand. STIs spread from person-to-person so the longer yours goes untreated, the more likely you are to spread it to someone else. Plus, the progression of an STI can lead to further health complications (like cancer or HIV), some of which can never be treated and/or have very serious consequences for you or your future babies.

5 STI Symptoms You Can't Ignore

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The following are 5 symptoms you should have checked out by your OB/GYN so she can rule out – or treat – them ASAP.

  1. Painful or itchy bumps. Both shaving and waxing can cause ingrown hairs, and sometimes these bumps can be pretty darn itchy, painful or even sizeable. However, other causes of bumps, blisters and skin lesions are herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV), and genital warts. Syphilis can also cause lesions that are reported as “bumps.” If you have a painful or itchy bump and you aren’t 100% sure it’s an ingrown hair or allergic reaction to a new soap or detergent, have your doctor take a look just in case.
  2. Painful urination and unusual discharge. Usually, painful urination is a sign of a bladder or urinary tract infection. However, it can also be a symptom of chlamydia or gonorrhea. Both diseases are considered “silent infections” because many patients never experience any noticeable symptoms. However, if your painful urination is accompanied by unusual discharge, pain during sex and/or lower abdominal pain, have it checked out. Hopefully it’s just a yeast infection or bacterial infection, but either way – treatment will provide relief.
  3. Frequent urination or lower abdominal pain. When an infection sets in, so does inflammation – and that inflammation can lead to pain in other areas. Thus, some STDs – like gonorrhea – can go without any symptoms for a while, until your body is finally compromised. In the case of gonorrhea, you may need to urinate more frequently, vaginal discharge will usually increase and will be yellowish in color and you may also experience fatigue and lack of energy, just like you do when you have a flu.
  4. Bleeding in between periods. Do you spot or bleed in between periods? Schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN to try to determine the source. Non-STI conditions such as endometriosis may be the cause, but so can quite a few sexually transmitted diseases. Some of them result in inflammation, abscesses or sores up inside your vagina and/or reproductive tissues, which can cause bleeding.
  5. Yellow, frothy or more-than-normal discharge. You know your body’s natural discharge rhythms throughout your menstrual cycle, so you’ll also notice when things seem a bit different. Your discharge often tells a story about what’s going on inside your reproductive system. Yellow discharge with a stronger-than-normal odor often means you have an infection of some kind. It could be a simple bacterial infection, or it might be one of the aforementioned STIs or Trichomoniasis, a one-celled parasite. Trichomoniasis is easily treated, but if left untreated, it makes you more susceptile to developing HIV if you’re exposed – or more likely to spread HIV if you have it.

We completely understand that many of the signs and symptoms associated with STIs are embarrassing to bring up to your doctor, but that’s what we are here for. In most cases, a simple prescription medication will have you STD-free in a short amount of time.

Please schedule an appointment with Overlake OB/GYN if you’ve noticed unusual symptoms that could be caused by an STD and of course, always use a condom when having sex outside of a committed relationship.