How do I know if someone has a sexually transmitted disease (STD)?

While some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may present with symptoms such as sores or ulcers or discharge, most, unfortunately, have no symptoms. You can't always tell if you or a partner has an STD just by looking.

Don't rely on a partner's self-reporting and assume that will prevent you from acquiring an STD. Many infected people do not know they have a problem. They may think their symptoms are caused by something else, such as yeast infections, friction from sexual relations or allergies.

Educate yourself about your own body and, in turn, learn about your individual risk for contracting an STD. One way to do this is to schedule an examination with a healthcare provider who can sit down with you and help you learn the principles for staying safe and sexually healthy. Don't allow fear, embarrassment or ignorance to jeopardize your future.
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine

The difficult thing about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is that most are silent. Many people do not know if they have an STD.

Don't be fooled by appearances -- the smart, educated, wealthy, witty, or even parent-approved dates are not automatically disease-free. STDs don't care how many years of school you've completed or how many bucks are in your wallet.

You cannot tell by looking (or feeling) who has an STD. You must ask your partner to be tested for STDs before you have sex.

Terrie Watkins
Midwifery Nursing

Unfortunately, it is often a retrospective diagnosis- in other words, when YOU develop symptoms, you know your partner has transmitted an STD to you. There is no way to evaluate a person by looks, income, education, or friends. Many STD's are invisible even to a trained observer and require specialized tests for diagnosis- but they can be deadly or incurable. It is important to know a potential partner well enough to discuss STD status, and use condoms at every contact.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.