Do All STDs Have Symptoms?

If you’re a sexually active woman, you can get a sexually transmitted infection or disease (STD). STDs don’t choose who to infect based on age, marital status, or sexual orientation. In fact, in recent years, the rate of STDs among older women has increased dramatically. 

You may have heard about some symptoms different STDs can cause, such as burning during urination or sexual intercourse, itchy rashes, unusual discharge, and painful bumps. When you notice symptoms like these, it’s easier to know when to see a doctor.

Unfortunately, not all STDs ring warning bells. That’s why our board-certified providers at Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare in Fayetteville, Newnan, and Stockbridge, Georgia, recommend regular STD testing for all sexually active women. 

This confidential testing helps your doctors catch any STDs early, when they’re easier to treat and less likely to cause detrimental complications. Take a moment to learn more about STDs that don’t cause symptoms and when you should get tested. 

STDs: Symptoms or no symptoms?

Whether an STD causes symptoms depends on which infection you have. For instance, about three-quarters of women with chlamydia don’t have symptoms. 

Getting asymptomatic STDs is especially common in women, as the vagina is internal, making it more difficult to notice things like skin changes or very mild symptoms. This makes it more difficult to get early treatment, when it’s most effective. 

Unfortunately, untreated STDs can lead to long-term health complications in women, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause:   

What’s more? Even without symptoms, you can pass asymptomatic STDs to your partner(s). That’s why using protection and having regular STD testing is so important. 

Which STDs can be asymptomatic?

Every year, at least 24,000 women experience infertility related to STDs. Many of these cases occur because of STDs that don’t cause symptoms until the disease has progressed quite far. Some of the most common asymptomatic STDs include:

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Some strains of this virus cause genital warts, but many don’t trigger any physical symptoms.

Chlamydia

This infection is often “silent,” spreading without symptoms until it reaches your uterus, leading to PID and infertility.

Gonorrhea

Most women never experience symptoms or only get mild symptoms until the condition reaches advanced stages.

Trichomoniasis

This parasitic infection only causes symptoms in about 30% of women and can increase your risk of getting other STDs and having preterm labor.

Herpes

This virus can lie dormant for years without causing symptoms.

Hepatitis B

This virus may not cause symptoms, and if left untreated, it may cause liver cancer.

HIV

This STD may be silent for years, making it more difficult to manage.

Because so many serious STDs can occur without noticeable symptoms — at least in the early stages — it’s especially important to practice safe sex. Remember: These infections can spread between sexual partners even when symptoms aren’t present. 

How can STD testing help?

The only guarantee you won’t get an STD is by abstaining from sexual activity. Because this isn’t practical for many women, getting a confidential STD test can help protect your health and the health of your partners. 

How often you need STD testing depends on many factors, including your age, sexual health history, medical history, and different lifestyle factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes the following recommendations for testing:

To learn more about STDs or to set up a confidential STD test, call 770-991-2200 or book an appointment online with Southern Crescent Women’s HealthCare today.

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