Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) strike fear into the hearts of most men for many reasons. Aside from any social stigma attached to ‘catching’ an STD, most guys are afraid of what an STD will do to their sex life and their penis. But aside from the obvious attack on your genitals, STDs can also spread or express themselves in other parts of your body. In fact, some people might not realize they have an STD until it shows up as something ‘offsite’ from their genitals.
This is particularly true with women, given that the urethra and vaginal opening are separate. So an onsite infection involving the vagina might not lead to a burning sensation when urinating, which is often the case for men. This article will examine some of the more ‘popular’ forms of STDs, and explain how they can show up in places north of the penis!
STDs are most often transmitted through sexual contact, but some can be transmitted through other means. You are either catching a virus (ex. Herpes) or a bacteria (ex. Chlamydia). Symptoms can take days or weeks to appear, but sometimes people catch something and display no symptoms whatsoever. Your sexual partner might not even know she has an STD, but that is small comfort when you are diagnosed. Again, there are more than one-way to catch an STD, and as we are about to find out, the disease might show up in unexpected places.
HSV-1 and HSV-2 are the viral version so this nasty disease. You contract the virus when you come into contact with it, but sores do not have to be present for this to occur. It is found within the blisters associated with the virus, and it is with you for life. HSV-1 is more commonly associated with the mouth as cold sores, and HSV-2 with genital sores. Note: Herpes can show up almost anywhere in your body, but the genitals, anus and mouth are the most common sites.
- HSV-2: Once contracted, most people find out they have the virus when sores appear around their genitals, buttocks, or anus. This occurs about 2-3 weeks after infection, but not everyone will have sores. The first outbreak is the most severe.
- HSV-1: Can be transmitted through a kiss. Orofacial infections are usually visible with fluid filled sores, but the sores are not necessary for transmission.
Offsite Infection – Eyes
Get it by: You can contract ‘ocular herpes’, which can (and does) lead to blindness. The transmission occurs when an infected person gets saliva into their eyes, commonly done when wetting a contact lens before insertion.
Symptoms: Inflammation of cornea (keratitis) causing sudden severe pain, blurred vision, or corneal lesions. Cloudy layer can form over the cornea. Swelling may occur around the eyes. Heals within 2-3 weeks.
This bacterial infection has been growing in popularity for the last several decades. Most guys find out they have by noticing a discharge from their penis, or when they experience a burning sensation while urinating. However, although this is an extremely common infection, a lot of men and women do not realize they have it until it causes additional health problems. You get this infection the old fashioned way, and oral infections often display little or no symptoms. The good news it can be cleared up with treatment!
Aside from the symptoms already mentioned, men might experience itching at the opening of the penis, or swelling and tenderness of the testicles. 2-6 weeks is the normal time from contraction to symptoms, but many men never show any signs.
Offsite Infection – Joints & Urethra
Get it by: Left unchecked, Chlamydia can spread to other parts of the body. A type of arthritis can occur, as the joints can become infected over time. Men can also develop scaring in the urethra, which leads to problems with urinating and a potential for infertility.
Symptoms: Infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis (a tube that carries sperm from the testis), causing pain, fever, and, rarely, sterility. On rare occasions, genital chlamydial infection can cause arthritis that can be accompanied by skin lesions and inflammation of the eye and urethra – know as Reiter’s syndrome.
This bacterial infection can show up in the penis, anus, throat, and the eyes; all the places that are warm and moist, which make a perfect breeding environment for the bacterium. Similar to Chlamydia, this infection may be present without any symptoms.
Symptoms might take a few days to a month before they show up, and can include testicular soreness, burning sensation while urinating, and the ever-popular pus discharge.
Offsite Infection – Throat and Anus
Get it by: Like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea can spread to other parts of the body. Having anal sex or oral sex will move the infection, and once the bacteria is in your mouth you can spread it to your eyes (ex. Wetting a contact lens). But like Chlamydia, any contact with your genitals followed by contact with the eye, will most likely spread the disease.
Symptoms: Painful swelling of the testicles, which can lead to infertility, is the most common. Anal infections usually express themselves with discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Throat infections are not as severe, and usually are limited to soreness. Eye infections show up as conjunctivitis, which might include redness, itching, and discharge.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Now that there is an effective immunization treatment for HPV, this virus might be wiped out in a few decades. But since many people have it and don’t know about it, the virus continues to infect millions. You might not have any symptoms if you catch this virus, but the appearance of warts (or cauliflower-shaped clusters of warts) on or around the genitals and anus is pretty much a sure sign you have HPV. However, a lot of people never show any symptoms, and the virus will go away on its own. The worst thing about HPV is that you do not need to have sex to catch it. Many men who wrestle during their school years catch the disease through close physical contact. Again, it is not limited to the penis alone, and the warts can take on many different shapes and sizes.
Symptoms might take a few days to a month before they show up, and the only physical sign that will appear are the warts themselves. Keep in mind that many show no symptoms, and the disease will often go away on its own. In extreme cases, your doctor might subscribe something to treat the warts.
Offsite Infection – Throat
Get it by: Good, old-fashioned oral sex with someone who has the virus.
Symptoms: If you have any symptoms at all, you will most likely have warts. HPV warts are small and flesh colored, which won’t make them all that easy to spot. But if you do notice a new growth in your mouth, check with your doctor. HPV is loosely linked to cancer of the penis, anus and the mouth.
All of these infections are preventable, but no method is 100% safe. Since many bacterial infections are transmittable through the mouth, a condom can’t guarantee you won’t catch the disease. The same goes for vaginal sex, as the condom can’t offer a 100% guarantee that some part of your penis or testicles won’t come into contact with bacteria on or near the vagina. So on that note, we will leave you with this advice – try to pick a partner that is disease free, and don’t cheat on her! Remember: diamonds aren’t the only things that last forever!