Se xually transmitted infections are a
spectrum of medical conditions that are acquired exclusively via an
intimate and unprotected s exual activity with an infected partner.
Examples of STIs include; gonorrhoea, syphilis, genital herpes etc. One
of the reasons why STIs are spreading fast is because most partners are
ignorant of vital signs that indicate the presence of an infection in
Currently, STIs are among the commonest
medical condition affecting men and women in the reproductive age group.
It is therefore important that as individuals, we become aware of
common symptoms and signs of sexually transmitted diseases because it
will aid in early self-diagnosis, identifying when a partner has STI and
prompting early diagnosis and treatment. So what are the signs that
suggest a partner may have been infected?
1. Pain during urination This is usually a common symptom of
sexually transmitted infections, caused by the ascension of bacteria
from the reproductive organs into the bladder. This causes intense
irritation of the inner lining of the bladder by toxins produced by the
bacteria. This translates to intense burning sensation and pain during
urination. When your partner complains of pain during urination or you
notice it yourself, you may advise him or her to go for a test.
2. Discharge from the va.gina or the pe.nis This is another important way to know if
your partner has STI. It is common with gonorrhea infection in men
which lead to a creamy white discharge from the pe.nis with associated
itching and intense pain on urination. If your partner complains or you
notice any discharge from the va.gina or the pe.nis, then it is a solid
pointer that he/she has STI.
3. Presence of sores around the genitals or the mouth The presence of any sore around the
mouth or the genitals should give a suspicion of STI. Mouth sore may be
indicative of herpes infection especially in people who practice oral
se.x. Other STI like the dreaded syphilis infection also presents like a
typical sore found on the pe.nis or inside the va.gina.
4. Painful se.xual intercourse With adequate foreplay, psychological
readiness and increase fluid secretion by the cells lining the va.gina,
se.xual intercourse should not be painful with a pleasurable experience.
With STI, se.x becomes painful due to the changes that occur with the
va.gina by the invading organisms. This can be as a result of dryness,
internal sores, adhesions of surrounding structures commonly seen with
PID and friability of the mucosa lining of the va.gina. If your partner
always complains of pain during se.xual intercourse then it is advisable
to consult a physician for proper assessment.
5. Itching around the genitals This is an important sign that is often
ignored by the patient and sexual partner. Studies have shown that more
than 70% of genital itching without any other symptom turns out to be a
sexually transmitted infection. This is caused by the local effect of
the toxins produced by the bacteria on the cells of the affected area.
6. Strong/ offensive va.ginal odour during se.xual intercourse Classically, the fishy odour experienced
during se.xual intercourse is highly suggestive of Bacterial Vaginosis.
This is caused by certain organisms that colonize the internal
reproductive organs of the female. The female reproductive organs should
be devoid of any pungent, strong or offensive smell and as such, it is a
way to know your partner may have STI.
7. Abnormalities of menstruation It is very common to hear women complain
of intermenstrual bleeding (va.ginal bleeding between menses), heavy
menstrual flow or painful menstruation, but very few people are aware
that such symptoms may be indicative of an STI affecting the menstrual
cycle of the patient. This also is a way to know if your partner has
8. Swollen/painful testis After unprotected se.xual intercourse,
micro-organisms may ascend into the testes from the urethra hence
establishing an infection within the testes. This leads to severe pain
and swollen testes. It is commonly accompanied with other symptoms like
fever, anorexia, nausea and vomiting. However, swollen/ painful testes
should be differentiated from twisting of the testis around its stalk
because the latter is a medical emergency that needs a prompt surgical
intervention. When you notice this condition in your partner, it’s a
sign he’s probably infected.