Most Common STDs, Pictures and Descriptions

Sexual Health  /  Blog

Most Common STDs, Pictures and Descriptions

Leah McCabe

Written by Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Reviewed by Dr. Katalin Karolyi

February 12, 2020 / Read Time 11 minutes

This article contains images of STD infected genitalia sourced from top medical sites. Not all STDs will present as displayed in each image. In order to have an STD diagnosed you must receive STD testing and consult with a doctor.

STD Pictures and Descriptions

Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are spread from one person to another during vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse.

Without treatment, STDs can lead to serious health problems. Let's take a look at the most common STDs and the symptoms that appear on both males and females. 

Book an STD screening appointment

Oral Herpes

Oral herpes is an infection also known as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).

The virus is transmitted through oral secretions or sores on the skin, and can be spread through oral sex, kissing or sharing objects such as toothbrushes or eating utensils, during an outbreak.

Oral herpes symptoms start as an itch and tingle before a blister appears. The fluid-filled blister erupts and the small and shallow ulcer on a red base becomes crusted, scabbed, dry and yellow.

Read: What Are The Herpes Stages?

The symptoms will usually appear on the lips, gums, nose, cheeks, throat, roof of the mouth, chin, or neck.

HSV-1 is a lifelong infection and has infected an estimated 3.6 billion people under the age of 50 (67%) globally.

PlushCare's board certified doctors can help with symptom management and even prescribe oral herpes treatment following an online appointment. The average appointment lasts just 15 minutes. Our virtual doctor can send your prescription to your preferred pharmacy.

Common prescriptions our doctors write for oral herpes include:

Genital Herpes: Women

Genital herpes, mostly caused by herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) is widespread throughout the world. More women are infected than men however, the infection is more easily spread from men to women than from women to men.

Genital herpes symptoms in women may begin to show 2 to 4 weeks after being exposed to the infection.

Some women may have no symptoms or signs of the infection, or may not have an outbreak for months or even years after they were first infected.

Initial symptom outbreaks to look out for may include:

  • Fever and flu-like symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort during urination

  • Vaginal discharge

  • Pain in the vagina, buttocks, or legs

  • Swollen lymphnodes

After a couple days, you can develop painful sores in your genital region including your vagina, anus, inside the vagina, thighs, buttocks, cervix or urinary tract.

Genital herpes is lifelong and incurable however, symptoms can be managed so that outbreaks are controlled and shortened.

If you think you have herpes simplex virus 2, book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor. Our doctors can place an order for a herpes test and prescribe you antiviral medications that can help your sores heal sooner.

Genital Herpes in Men

Approximately two-thirds of men with genital herpes, known as herpes simplex virus 2, do not experience symptoms.

It is also common for mild genital herpes symptoms in men to be confused with other skin conditions.

HSV-2 is lifelong and incurable. Fortunately, symptoms can be managed during an outbreak using antiviral medication.

Our PlushCare physicians can order you a herpes test and prescribe you with antiviral medications for herpes outbreaks.

Initial genital herpes symptoms in men may include:

  • Body aches

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Fever and flu-like symptoms

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Raw or cracked skin around the genital area

  • Pain itching or tingling around the genital region

  • Blisters or sores on the penis or scrotum 

Herpes sores appear as small, red bumps or white blisters that can pop up on your penis, anus and/or around the thighs and buttocks.

When the blisters rupture, you may notice a painful ulcer forming in its place. It will ooze fluid and eventually heal and form a scab.

Resist the urge to pick the scab so the infected area can heal.

If left untreated or you are touching the infected area you can spread the virus andHSV-2 can lead to eye infections, eczema herpeticum, encephalitis or meningitis.

Time between outbreaks can be months to years and can be triggered by trauma, illness, and intercourse.

Genital Herpes Stages for Male and Female

There are six different stages to the development of genital herpes:

Stage one: Prodrome - This stage is highly contagious. You may experience pain, tingling or itching in the infected area as the herpes virus becomes active inside the skin and heads towards the surface to begin the outbreak.

Stage two: Skin Redness - The infected genital region may turn red and sensitive, lasting from a few hours to a few days.  

Stage three: Formation of lesions - Lesion or sores begin to rise on the skin. Sores may appear around the anus or genitals in clusters or individually. The sores fill up with fluid and become painful. This stage may last a few days. 

Stage four: Development of Lesions - This stage will be the most contagious. The lesions or herpes sores will grow until they are ready to burst to release a build up of fluid. The wound will stay open and runny for a few days.

Stage five: Scabbing - Once the herpes sore has drained its fluid build up, it will dry out and begin to scab over a few days.

Stage six: Healing - Once the scab falls off, the sore will be healed.  

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Women

Genital Human Papillomavirus, or genital HPV, is a sexually transmitted disease spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. It is extremely common and in many cases will go away on its own without displaying symptoms.

42% of US population aged 18-59 had genital herpes , most in their late teens and early 20's, are infected with HPV. There are over 100 varieties of HPV, some strains cause warts while others may lead to an increased risk of certain cancers. The HPV vaccine can help prevent more serious and high risk strains of HPV.

HPV symptoms in women may appear as small bumps or warts, individually or in groups over the infected genital area. They can grow on the vulva, the walls of the vagina, or in and around the anal canal. They can be small or large, elevated or flat, and may be shaped like cauliflower.

That said, many women do not experience symptoms and can be diagnosed with a regular Pap test by a doctor.

Unfortunately, HPV cannot be cured but the body is typically able to fight it off and in most cases symptoms will go away on their own. When HPV does not go away, it can cause more serious health problems including:

  • Cervical cancer

  • Genital warts

  • Oropharyngeal cancer

  • Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis 

 If you think you have HPV, schedule an appointment with a PlushCare physician who can order you an HPV test. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in Men

HPV is so prevalent that nearly all sexually active people will get it at some time in their life, if they don't get the HPV vaccine. And even if you've had the vaccine there are many strains of HPV you are not protected against, though they are generally low risk strains.

HPV infection is transmitted through anal, vaginal, and oral sex or skin-to-skin contact.

Most men with human papilloma virus produce little to no symptoms. The infection tends to resolve on its own without any long-term effects.

HPV symptoms in men include warts on your penis, scrotum, and/or anus.

The small bumps or group of bumps appear small or large, risen or flat, and can be shaped as a cauliflower. Warts rarely cause pain or discomfort, though they may feel itchy or tender.

If you think you've been exposed to HPV, book an appointment with a PlushCare physician who can diagnose your condition and give you a treatment plan.

Chlamydia in Women

Chlamydia is a common STD that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is easily spread by having vaginal, oral or anal sex with someone who has chlamydia.

Chlamydia survives in moist and soft tissues not covered by skin such as the genitals, mouth and throat.

Chlamydia can easily be cured using antibiotics. It can also cause serious damage to a woman's reproductive system, if left untreated.

Read: How to Get Rid of Chlamydia

It is common for someone with chlamydia to have no symptoms. . Symptoms may not appear until several weeks after you have sex with an infected person.

Chlamydia symptoms in women include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge with an odor

  • A burning sensation when urinating

  • Pain when having sex

  • Itching or burning 

  • Bleeding between periods

  • Abnormal pain with fever

You should be examined by a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.

A chlamydia test requires a urine sample or a cotton swab from the cervix or infected area. Our doctors can provide you with a lab order for testing and prescribe you with any necessary antibiotics

Chlamydia in Men

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that affects both men and women.

Most men with Chlamydia show no symptoms; 50% of men with chlamydia do not exhibit symptoms.

The infection is spread through semen and vaginal fluids, but the transmission of the disease is not dependent on ejaculation. If symptoms do appear, they can show up several weeks after having sex with an infected person.

Chlamydia symptoms in men may include:

  • Clear or cloudy discharge from the tip of the penis

  • Painful urination

  • Burning or itching around the opening of the penis

  • Pain and swelling around the tesitcles

  • Pain, discharge, bleeding around the anus

If you think you have chlamydia, book an appointment with anonline doctor at PlushCare. The doctor will provide you with a lab order to test for the STD. The test is typically a swab from the urethra.

If your results come back positive, your doctor will prescribe you oral antibiotics such as azithromycin or doxycycline. Contact one of our doctors today if you are experiencing symptoms of chlamydia. 

Gonorrhea in Women

Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease sometimes called "the clap" or the drip.

It has been estimated that the United States sees about 550,000 new cases of gonorrhea every year. About 90% of those are from sexually active people between the age of 15 to 44.

This bacteria survives on mucous membranes that are moist, soft tissues not covered by  skin. Thus, this infection can be found inside the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, urethra, rectum, as well as the lining of the eyes, mouth or throat.

Gonorrhea symptoms in women include:

  • Painful urination

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

  • Vaginal bleeding after intercourse

  • Painful lower abdominal area

Gonorrhea is easily treated with antibiotics which kill the bacterial infection in a matter of days.

Book an appointment with PlushCare to get a lab order for Gonorrhea testing. If your results come back positive our doctors will write you a prescription for antibiotics.

Gonorrhea in Men

Gonorrhea is a very common infection, especially among young people ages 15 through 24 years. Gonorrhea, also known as the "clap" or the drip, is a sexually transmitted infection that is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids.

Gonorrhea tends to infect warm, moist areas of the body including the urethra, throat, and anus.

It cannot be passed through casual contact such as kissing, holding hands, hugging, or sneezing.

Not all infections cause symptoms, that said symptoms may appear several days after being infected.

Common gonorrhea symptoms in men include:

  • Painful urination 

  • Pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis in yellow, green or white

  • Pain or swelling in one testicle 

  • A persistent sore throat

Gonorrhea in men, if left untreated, can cause painful condition in the tubes attached to the testicles and can spread to your blood and joints.

Most of the time urine can be used for a gonorrhea test. If you think you think you have gonorrhea consult a doctor about your treatment options.

A PlushCare doctor can write you a lab order and if you test positive can provide you with the necessary antibiotics.

Syphilis in Women

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is highly contagious.

Around 19 of every 200,000 men and women in the United States report contracting syphilis.

This bacteria can enter your body through vaginal, anal or oral sex from the partner`s sores.

Like other STDs, if syphilis is left untreated it can cause long-term problems such as arthritis, brain damage, and blindness.

Syphilis symptoms can take months or even years to appear, so it is possible to acquire or transmit the disease without knowledge of its existence.

Syphilis sores or syphilis chancres may be painless and can heal in about three to six weeks on its own if left untreated.

Since it is a bacterial infection, syphilis is completely curable with correctly prescribed antibiotic medication.

That said, if left untreated syphilis can advance to later stages that can cause lasting damage. A mother can pass it to the child during pregnancy. 

If you think you have syphilis book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor. They will order you a syphilis test if necessary. If your results come back positive the doctor will prescribe you antibiotics to treat your infection.

Syphilis in Men

Syphilis is a common bacterial infection that's spread through sexual intercourse.

Syphilis is easily cured with antibiotic medication, but can cause permanent damage if you are not treated immediately.

Untreated syphilis can lead to permanent problems like brain damage, paralysis, and blindness.

Syphilis is easily transmitted during sex when one partner have a syphilis sore in the anus or genitals or through kissing with an oral sore. The infection cannot be spread through casual contact, such as sharing foods, hugging, holding hands, coughing, or sitting on a toilet seat.

Syphilis symptoms in men appear as chancres or sores and most likely develop on the penis head or top of the shaft or on the scrotum.

The infection can be diagnosed with a syphilis test which includes drawing blood and swabbing fluid from an open sore.

You can book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor who can write you a lab order for testing and give you a treatment plan, including any necessary antibiotics, following a positive diagnosis.

Stages of syphilis in Men and Syphilis Symptoms in Women

If left untreated syphilis will advance from its primary stage and get worse over time leading to complicated health problems.

The stages of syphilis are:

  • Primary stage - Sores or chancres appear at the site of infection (mouth, lips, anus, rectum, vagina, cervix for women or mouth, lips, anus, rectum, scrotum, and penis for men).  These appear 3 to 6 weeks after infected, and heal if left untreated. 

  • Secondary stage - Red or reddish brown rash on the trunk, palms of the hands and soles of the feet may appear. You may experience sore throat, patchy hair loss, swollen lymph nodes, or headaches and fever.

  • Latent stage - During this phase, the bacteria are still alive in your body but you may experience no symptoms. The infection can affect your heart, brain, and nerves and can last for years. Not everyone who has syphilis will enter this stage. Some will go directly into the tertiary stage. 

  • Tertiary stage - Post secondary stage symptoms, the infection remains latent in the body if left untreated. This stage is not contagious, but the infection may have started to damage organs, such as your brain, nerves, eyes, etc. Symptoms of tertiary stage include numbness, problems controlling muscle movements, vision loss and dementia.

Get STD Testing and Treatment Online

If you've been exposed to an STD or are experiencing symptoms of an STD you should see a doctor about STD testing.

This can be done online through PlushCare. Our top doctors are able to write STD testing orders and will refer you to your local lab for testing. Once your results come back the doctor will reach out for a follow up appointment.

Your PlushCare doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan including any necessary prescription medications, such as antibiotics or antiviral medication.

Book an appointment to talk to a doctor and get a lab order for STD testing.

Read More About STDs


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