STD Symptoms in Men

VDThis is a huge topic as there are many STDs out there each with its own set of symptoms.

Also, we must keep in mind that now everyone who is infected with an STD will develop symptoms.

With these 2 caveats in mind, I will try my best to give you an overview of the various STD symptoms.

Note that this article refers to the man as the insertive partner. So it discusses what a man can catch from inserting his penis into the mouth, vagina and/or the anus of his partner.

Click here for STD symptoms in receptive Oral Sex – i.e. using his/her mouth on the partner’s genitals or anus

Click here for STD symptoms in receptive Anal Sex – i.e. allowing his/her partner to insert his penis into the anus

You can basically classify the possible symptoms into 3 groups:

1. Urinary Symptoms – Pain passing urine, Discharge etc

2. Skin Symptoms – Growths, Ulcers etc

3. General Symptoms – Fever, Swollen Lymph nodes etc

1. Urinary Symptoms

These are by far the commonest STD symptoms you will see because the STDs that cause them are the commonest STDs there are.

Symptoms include:

Pain or discomfort when passing urine. This is usually felt in the urine tube within the penis (urethra) or at the tip of the penis. Some people describe it as ‘burning’ some describe it as an ítch’. Gonorrhea usually causes more pain. Chlamydia less pain or hardly any pain at all, just a weird sensation. Trichomonas causes more itching.

Discharge from the penis. Yellow, white or clear liquid coming out from the tip of the penis.  Gonorrhea usually causes more yellow and high volume discharge. In fact enough to make a whole mess of your clothes. Most of my patients with Gonorrhea have to put a tissue around the tip of the penis to collect the discharge. Chlamydia and NSU causes a discharge of much less volume and also less yellow.

Pain or discomfort in the testis. This is a symptoms quite classical of Chlamydia. The discomfort can range from being very mild to quite severe. There might even be some swelling of the scrotum but this is rare.

Who are the culprits?

Chlamydia – the commonest STD in the world


– Ureaplasma Urealyticum

– Mycoplasma Hominis

– Other NSU bacteria

– Trichomonas

When do they appear?

Classically we are taught 3 to 30 days.

In fact, Gonorrhea usually presents the earliest. As early as 2 days from exposure. 90% of people will get symptoms by 1 week.

Chlamydia usually takes a bit longer. Most patients will show symptoms only at about 2 weeks post exposure. Bear in mind that 80% of people infected with Chlamydia will not show any symptoms at all.

2. Skin Symptoms

This is also extremely common.

Symptoms include:

– Ulcers. Do not mistake ulcers for lumps or pimples on the skin. Ulcers are actual breaks or craters on the skin. They are always wet looking. If the ulcers are painful, small (3mm to 5mm), multiple (3 to 5 at least) and are surrounded by red skin, it is likely to be Herpes. If there is only 1 ulcer, it is painless and rather big (8mm or bigger) it is likely to be Syphilis. If it is 1 ulcer, big and very painful with very swollen and painful lymph nodes along your groin crease, it is likely to be a Chancroid (Haemophilus Ducreyi).

– Growths. What we are talking about here are lumps and bumps on the skin. If the lump is skin colored and looks like a cauliflower, it is likely a wart caused by HPV. If the lumps look like little pearls stuck onto the skin, it is likely to be Molluscum Contagiosum Virus.

– Blisters. Blisters are small fluid filled sacs on the skin. They look like little bubbles on the skin. These are almost always caused by Herpes.

– Itch. This is typical of lice and scabies. The itch is usually very bad and persistent. It can be a lot worse at night. Under good lighting, the lice can actually be seen on the skin. It usually hides in dark hair bearing areas like underneath the scrotum.

Who are the culprits?



Molluscum Contagiosum Virus (MCV)

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

– Scabies and Lice

When do they appear?

Syphilis 9 to 90 days. Herpes as early as 1 week or as late as months later. The same applies for HPV and MCV. They can appear within a couple of weeks of infection or can take months or even years before they appear.

Symptoms for Scabies and Lice usually occur very soon after infection.

3. General Symptoms

These are the most confusing. They are called ‘General Symptoms’ because the same symptoms are caused by many different diseases most of which have nothing to do with STDs at all.

Symptoms include:

– Fever. Basically anything and everything causes fever. From your common cold to HIV. So if you do develop a fever after a sexual exposure, see your doctor but there is no reason to panic.

– Rash. Again a terribly non-specific symptom. Could be caused by an allergy or HIV or Syphilis. The HIV rash looks like measles and usually appears 3 weeks from exposure. The Syphilis rash looks like red spots with flaky skin around them. Classically they appear on the palms and soles which is rare for other rashes. They can appear anytime from 2 to 6 months after infection.

– Swollen Lymph Nodes. The lymph nodes are part of the body’s natural defenses. When one part of the body is infected, the lymph nodes surrounding it will swell and sometimes become painful. This is the way the body fights the infection. Swollen lymph nodes occur all the time. Even the common cold can cause lymph nodes to swell. If the lymph nodes along the groin crease (inguinal lymph nodes) are swollen, this can suggest infections like Herpes, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Chancroid. If other lymph nodes like on the neck or under the armpits are swollen, this is too general to know if they are caused by STDs or not.

– Loss of appetite, feeling weak, loss of interest in smoking. I put these symptoms here because they can be caused by Hepatitis. But I’m sure you can appreciate that almost any illness, even anxiety, can cause these symptoms.

Who are the culprits?





When do they appear?

Usually about 2 to 3 weeks after infection. But they can appear as late as 6 weeks from infection.

What do you do now?

Not everyone who is infected with an STD will develop symptoms. Of course if you do have any of the above symptoms, please see us as soon as you can.

If you do not have any of the symptoms, get a full STD screening at 1 month  post exposure to be 100% sure you are clear of everything.

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Related Topics:

Cost of HIV/STD Screening at our Clinics

HIV Testing FAQ

STDs – General Info

STD Symptoms in Women

STD symptoms in receptive Oral Sex

STD symptoms in receptive Anal Sex

What Causes Chlamydia Infection in Men who have sex with Men?


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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.

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  1. hi i have some 2 red bump on my penis glan the bump if press strongly will cause clear fluid a little bit….i test for vdrl/tpha test after 1week lump appear….result test after 2week result negative..but doctor gave me a jab for syphillis n ampicilin for a week but nothing change n the bump multiple from 2 became 5…my last risk exposure is about 2month….the bump dont became a ulcer or sore it about 17days…its dont itch or pain…

    then last week i went to skin clinic the doctor told me i might be scabies…after a apply the cream aslo no much difrent…

    hope u can give your opinion on this…

    • Hi, there are still several conditions which can cause bumps over your genitals. It would be best if you came down to our clinic to take a look.

  2. Hi Dr Tan,
    I have blisters on my penis about 10yrs back but subsequent tests for hsv2 are negative. What is the cause?

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