7 Common STI Signs That Doesn’t Always Mean You Have An STD

January 22, 2019
by John Kelly, MD
7 Common STI Signs That Doesn’t Always Mean You Have An STD

When your body is doing something unusual, it may be cause for alarm. According to doctors though, not all signs of an STI (sexually transmitted infection) is actually an STD. For example, a cottage-cheese-like discharge may be worrying to women who recently had unprotected sex. However, this symptom is also indicative of a yeast infection, not just an STI.

The only way to know if you have a sexually transmitted disease is to actually get tested for it. There are about 20 million new STI cases each year, which means you shouldn’t be ashamed when you get one. Just know that they can be prevented if you practice safe sex.

Now, what are some of the classic signs of an STI that could also be from something else altogether?


Genital itching is often worrisome, as it’s a sign of trichomoniasis, chlamydia, HPV and gonorrhea. However, experts say itching may also be a sign of dermatitis, which can be caused by using certain soaps, materials and pads. Bacterial vaginosis can also cause itching down there. If you’re not sure and have had unprotected sex recently, it’s always a good idea to get checked out.

Genital Bumps or Scales

Most people, when they feel bumps in the genital region, automatically think they are infected with the herpes virus. However, bumps in the genital region may actually be from a hair follicle, causing inflammation and infection. It’s known as folliculitis, which is similar to pimples in nature. They often occur after a person has shaved and sweat and friction from clothing can cause bumps to appear.

Folliculitis shows up in a line or patches along the vulva. They are generally round, smooth bumps about two millimeters in size. Using lubricants and new condoms can also lead to contact dermatitis in the region, causing these bumps to appear.

Since it’s not genital warts, they tend to clear up on their own.

Lip Bumps

Another common herpes-like condition is called Fordyce spots, small yellow bumps found on the genitals and around the lips. They are the result of the body’s oil-producing glands that maintain moisture in the area. They also require no treatment.

Unusual Bleeding Or Spotting After Sex

When women have unusual bleeding after the sex act, it can be quite scary. After all, this sign is tied to both chlamydia and gonorrhea. However, it’s also tied to other things such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and so much more. If it happens regularly or you have pain along with it, you need to see your doctor right away.

Odd-Smelling Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is often mistaken for a sexually transmitted disease symptom, but it’s a very common occurrence. It’s actually the body’s way to keep the vagina moist and clean. The thickness that occurs will vary because of the hormone fluctuations taking place. The discharge can look white or clear in color and be even a little watery, and nothing to be too concerned with.

However, if the color or consistency changes or you’re also experiencing itchiness along with it, you need to see your doctor to rule out the possibility of an STD.

Odd Smelling Pee

Many urinary tract infection symptoms are also signs for an STI such as the frequent need to pee, blood in urine, odd smell and pain while peeing. In most cases, these symptoms are due to a bladder infection and not an STI.

Pain During Intercourse

Bacterial vaginosis has many STI-like symptoms such as painful intercourse, itching and vaginal discharge. However, pain during intercourse is also possible when the vagina’s bacteria not in balance.

Still, if you notice any one of these symptoms, you should still be seen by your doctor. While in most cases, it won’t be a sexually transmitted infection. If you have had unprotected sex recently with someone new or suspect your partner has cheated on you, better safe than sorry. Get tested to ensure you don’t need an STD treatment.


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