Female STD Symptoms

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017

STD symptoms in women can vary drastically from person to person, based on what infection is present, and what stage the infection is in. Female STD symptoms can range from none at all, to mild, to severe. Many women will suspect an STD infection if there is an unusual symptom in the genital region, such as itching, a rash, discharge, or vaginal/pelvic pain. However, STDs can produce vague symptoms that can also be caused by other medical conditions, making it difficult to pinpoint the cause of the problem. It's important to note that the majority of sexually transmitted infections produce no symptoms at all. The only way to know if an STD is present is to get tested.

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More common STD symptoms in women:

  • No signs at all
  • Discharge (a milky white, yellow, thick or thin substance coming from the vagina)
  • Pain with urination
  • Pain with sex
  • Vaginal itching
  • Rash on the vagina or in the region of the groin
  • Painful blisters on the genitals

Less common STD symptoms in women:

  • Painless ulcer on the vagina
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Low back pain
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Painful swelling of a joint (like a knee or elbow)
  • Sore throat (if engaging in oral sex)
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding (if engaging in anal receptive sex)

If symptoms occur, it may happen within days of exposure (after engaging in sexual activity), but may sometimes take weeks to develop. Some women mistakenly believe that because they are not experiencing any symptoms, they don't have an STD infection. STDs can be "invisible" but can still be transmitted to a sexual partner. This is why it's important for women to be comprehensively screened for STDs if they are sexually active, especially if they've engaged in unprotected sex.

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