Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have a range of signs and symptoms. That's why they may go unnoticed until complications occur or a partner is diagnosed. Signs and symptoms that might indicate an STI include:

  • Sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Sore, swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the groin but sometimes more widespread
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Rash over the trunk, hands or feet

Signs and symptoms may appear a few days to years after exposure, depending on the organism. They may resolve in a few weeks, even without treatment, but progression with later complications — or recurrence — sometimes occurs.

When to see a doctor

See a doctor immediately if:

  • You are sexually active and you believe you've been exposed to an STI
  • You have signs and symptoms of an STI

Make an appointment with a doctor for STI counseling and, if appropriate, screening tests:

  • When you consider becoming sexually active, or when you're 21 — whichever comes first
  • Before you start having sex with a new partner
Feb. 23, 2013