First Symptoms of STDs

Currently, over 20 different types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been identified and affect at least 13 million people in the United States annually, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The first symptoms of STDs can be difficult to identify or may be absent in certain patients. Men and women who engage in any type of sexual activity should receive regular STD testing to limit the risk of spreading infections to intimate partners.

Genital Pain or Itching

Genital pain and itching are common first symptoms of STDs in both men and women, explains Avert, a national AIDS charity. Bacterial or viral STDs can cause inflammation and irritation within the genital region. As a result, affected men and women can experience genital soreness or discomfort that extends from the genital region to the anus or buttocks. These symptoms commonly arise within a few weeks following initial exposure to a STD and can become progressively worse if affected patients do not receive appropriate treatment.

Genital Skin Lesions

Certain types of STDs, such as the herpes simplex virus (HSV), can cause genital skin lesions as a first symptom of infection. Affected patients can develop red, raised skin lesions across the vagina, penis or anus that appear inflamed. These skin lesions can continue to grow into larger, fluid-filled blisters that burst, reports Avert. Genital skin lesions can be painful and may contribute to genital discomfort in certain patients. These first symptoms of STDs may arise sporadically throughout an infected patient’s life. Patients who develop any type of genital skin lesion should seek further evaluation and care from a medical professional.

Genital Discharge

Patients who contract a STD can experience unusual genital discharge as a first symptom of infection. Genital discharge can appear discolored, profuse, thick or runny and may emit an unpleasant or abnormal odor. Men or women who develop genital discharge should seek care from a doctor immediately because this first symptom of a STD can also be a sign of other infections, such as a yeast infection.

Pain During Urination

Pain during urination is a common first symptom of a STD in affected patients, explains Abnormal pathogens within the body can cause significant genital irritation or inflammation. When this occurs, a patient with a STD can develop sensations of pain or burning while urinating. In women, these first symptoms of STDs can also be accompanied by irregular vaginal bleeding. Pain during urination should be discussed with a doctor as this symptom can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection.

About this Author

Rachel R. Ahmed, M.S., is a freelance writer and editor based in San Diego. Ahmed received her M.S. degree in integrated biomedical sciences and has been working as a freelance writer and editor for more than five years. Some of her freelance clients include The Burroughs Wellcome Fund,,, L3 Communications, and ThinkTank Learning.