There are lots of fun things about starting a new relationship with someone—butterflies in the pit of your stomach, anyone? However, there’s one really unfun thing that you have to think about, especially if things get intimate: sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs.
No, it’s not sexy, but STDs are really important to talk about with a new beau. They’re unfortunately pretty common: One in two sexually active persons will contract an STD by age 25, reports the American Sexual Health Association. Besides that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, nearly 20 million new STDs occur in people in America.
One of the biggest reasons it’s important to talk about and get screened for STDs is because you might be lucky and be able to treat the disease and get better. Others aren’t so lucky—about 25 percent of Americans are currently suffering an incurable STD.
All right, so now that we’ve scared you — sorry about it! — relax. If you know what to look for, you can help alleviate, or even get rid of, the STD in no time.
If you’ve acquired a new (or multiple) sexual partners, it’s certainly good to make an appointment with your doctor just to get checked, but it’s especially important if you notice any of the following symptoms that could be a sign of an STD:
Any time you notice that it hurts to pee, that could be a sign of inflammation in your genital area and urinary tract. And that could be a sign of an STD, or other infection like a urinary tract infection. It’s always good to get this symptom checked out!
Discharge is normal, but if you notice anything that strays from the norm, that could be a sign of trouble in paradise. We’re talking color changes, a different consistency, or a funky smell. Fishy or metallic smelling discharge is usually the sign of an STD or other infection.
It’s itchy down there
Let’s face it: We know you don’t have a mosquito bite on your lady parts. One of the most common STDs that causes itching is called trichomoniasis. This STD is also usually accompanied by the other two symptoms listed above (painful urination and abnormal discharge).
Are you suddenly experiencing pain during sex when you weren’t before? It could be anything from a dull discomfort to shooting or stabbing pains in the vagina. Any type of pain like this could mean inflammation of the tissues of the vagina and cervix.
STDs such as gonorrhea or chlamydia may cause an inflammation of the cervix, which can cause you to bleed in between periods. Spotting is a sign of many infections, though, so if you’re experiencing this, see your gyno before assuming the worst!
One of the most common types of STDs that cause sores to develop is called syphilis. While the sores aren’t usually painful, they can be a little shocking if you notice them. You can tell pretty quickly if it’s syphilis, because the sores show up in the exact spot you were infected—so it could not only be your vagina, but your anus or mouth as well.
If syphilis isn’t treated, you might notice after the stores become a rough, red rash on your skin. This can cause cardiovascular and neurological problems, so definitely see your doctor if you have all these signs.
If you think you might have an STD, see your doctor before it gets worse. Many can be treated, so it’s important to go at the first signs of symptoms. Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms before?