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What are Common STD Symptoms for Men?

By Caitlin Kenney
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Common STD symptoms for men include burning when urinating, pus-like discharge from the urethra, lesions on the penis and around the anus, and warts on the genitals, amongst other symptoms. The most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are genital human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV/AIDS. Oftentimes, men don’t exhibit symptoms for weeks or at all, depending on the infection, so it is important to get tested and use a physical barrier, like a condom, if sexually active with more than one partner.

The STD symptoms for men with HPV are warts on the penis, thighs, testicles, anus, and groin. The warts are usually painless and skin colored, and can be flat, raised, or lumpy. An infected male might notice them weeks or months after contracting the virus, or not at all. It is important to be aware of the virus, however, as HPV infection raises a man’s risks of developing penis, anus, rectum, head, and neck cancers. Protecting female partners from HPV is also critical, as it is a precursor to cervical cancer. Today, HPV vaccines are available to both men and women and are highly effective for those who have not already been infected with the virus.

Herpes is another common, incurable STD that can be passed from genitals to genitals, or mouth to genitals. The STD symptoms for men are similar whether he contracts HSV-1, which is generally connected with oral herpes, or HSV-2, which people tend to think of in connection with genital herpes. An infected male may experience flu-like symptoms to begin with, then swelling, itchiness, and redness of the groin and penis. Eventually, bumps appear and may turn into painful lesions on the penis, testicles, groin, and around the anus that may leak white or clear fluid. This usually lasts from a week to three weeks and can be treated with antiviral medications.

The STD symptoms for men infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are often silent at first. The man may then begin to experience fatigue, rashes, swollen glands and lymph nodes, fever, and muscle aches. As the body’s immune symptoms begin to weaken, the man may exhibit lesions, yeast infections of the throat, diarrhea, and weight loss and be prone to bruising. Men may not show symptoms until later stages, so it is vital to get tested. While there is no cure for this disease, “cocktails” of medications can allow people to live long and normal lives with HIV/AIDS.

Men with gonorrhea have symptoms of burning when urinating and thick discharge from the urethra. If left untreated, men with gonorrhea may develop epididymitis, wherein the epididymis, a tube at the back of the testicle that stores and transports sperm, becomes inflamed. Symptoms of this condition include pain when urinating, pain when ejaculating, swollen and tender scrotum, blood in the semen, and fever.

The STD symptoms for men with syphilis occur in stages, beginning with swollen lymph nodes and a sore called a chancre on the lips, tongue, penis, or rectum. The man may then develop wart-like lumps on the genitals or mouth, general soreness, fatigue, sore throat, and circular, brown rashes on any part of the body. The disease may then lay dormant, called the latent stage, before returning years later to cause damage to the nervous system, resulting in paralysis, spasms, blindness, dementia, and death.

Chlamydia often presents no symptoms in men or women. For men, signs may include swelling in the prostate, urethra, and testicles. The best way to find out if one has this infection is to get tested.

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Discussion Comments

By serenesurface — On Oct 08, 2013

I also think that with most STDs, male STD symptoms almost always match those of women. For example, syphilis can cause a rash, ulcers and fever in both sexes. Syphilis has stages and the longer one waits for treatment, the worse the symptoms get. But being a male or female doesn't make much of a difference, not in terms of diagnosis and treatment.

I've also noticed that almost all STDs present with some kind of skin issue-- chancres, ulcers, warts or rash. And there is always a general feeling of being unwell because the body is actively fighting a virus or bacteria.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 08, 2013

@fBoyle-- That's not true. HPV causes genital warts and it can happen to both men and women. The weird part about HPV is that despite many people in the US being infected with it, it is rarely talked about. It is true that HPV can go unnoticed because the symptoms don't always show up right away and HPV can be slightly more dangerous in women because of its connection to cervical cancer. But there is no such thing that the symptom will never show up in men.

The thing about STDs is that everyone experiences them differently because everyone's immune system reacts differently. Those with a weaker immune system, stressful life, sedentary lifestyle and bad diet are more likely to experience symptoms of an STD. So an STD might not cause warts in one person for years and the same STD may cause constant wart outbreaks in another.

By fBoyle — On Oct 07, 2013

I heard that HPV doesn't cause any STD symptoms in men but causes lots of problems in women. Apparently, this is why most men who have it aren't even aware of it. They only become aware when a partner tests positive for it and they also get tested.

Is this true? Do men with HPV have no symptoms whatsoever?

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