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STI symptoms in men: which complaint indicates which STI?

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STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) are infectious diseases transmitted through sexual contact. These conditions can cause various symptoms in men. The symptoms you experience depend on the type of STI and the form of sexual contact. Additionally, men who have sex with men, those with multiple partners, and those engaging with sex workers face an elevated risk of specific STIs. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize various symptoms of different STIs for prompt and effective action. Read on for more information.


Common symptoms of STIs in men:

Before discussing specific symptoms associated with particular STIs, let’s explore general symptoms often seen in different STIs in men. It’s essential to note that men may not always experience symptoms of an STI. Some STIs progress asymptomatically, meaning you may have acquired an STI without experiencing symptoms. This is potentially dangerous because, even without symptoms, you can still transmit the infection.

The most common STI symptoms in men include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis or anus.
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination.
  • Pain or burning sensation during sexual activity.
  • Itching or irritation in the genital or rectal area.
  • Swelling, redness, or tenderness of the testicles.
  • Blisters, bumps, flakes, warts, or sores in the genital area.
men in chair

The above-mentioned symptoms can occur with various STIs and are not specific to one type of STI. Additionally, it is possible that an STI may cause no symptoms at all. If you are sexually active and want to determine if you have an STI, use the Easly STI Test Guide for personalized advice on which STI tests we recommend taking.

How to recognize an STI in a man?

Identifying an STI in a man can be challenging as symptoms vary and may even be entirely absent. Men with multiple sexual partners, men who have sex with men, or those who have engaged with sex workers are at a higher risk of an STI. We recommend regular testing for anyone sexually active to prevent complications and the spread of STIs.

Couple on bed

If you notice any of the symptoms below, it’s crucial to seek personal medical advice promptly and undergo an STI test:

Painful urination:

  • Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis can cause pain or a burning sensation during urination.
  • Herpes can also cause pain during urination due to blisters and sores in the genital area.


Red spots on the glans:

  • Genital herpes can lead to red spots and a rash on the glans of the penis.
  • Syphilis often begins with a small sore on the penis.
  • Genital warts are usually visible as small growths in the genital area, but they can also initially cause red spots.


Blisters, bumps, flakes, warts, and sores:

  • Genital herpes can cause blisters and sores in the genital area.
  • Genital warts often appear as growths in the genital and anal regions.
  • Syphilis can lead to sores (syphilis ulcers) on the genitals or in the mouth.



Itching in the genital and anal areas can be caused by various STIs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital herpes.


White discharge:

  • Unusual white or cloudy discharge from the penis may be related to STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis.
  • Abdominal pain or pain in the testicles:
  • Lower abdominal pain may indicate an infection such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis.


Anal pain:

  • Anal pain can occur with STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or genital herpes.
  • Fever, enlarged lymph nodes, combined with the above symptoms:
  • Fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and any of the above complaints may occur with HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital herpes.
Verwelkte bloem

Recognize any of the above symptoms? Don’t wait; get tested for an STI! At Easly, we’ve created the Easly STI Test Guide: answer a few brief questions to determine which STIs to test for. This test is then easily and reliably conducted at home.


For more information on each STI and their specific symptoms, check out our comprehensive blog on STIs: a comprehensive overview of all symptoms.

Related tests

Preventing STIs

Preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is crucial for both your sexual health and that of others. By paying attention to preventive measures, you reduce the risk of contracting an STI and prevent their spread. Here are steps to minimize the risk of getting an STI:

  • Safe sexual behavior: Always use a condom during sexual activity, especially with a new partner or if you haven’t recently undergone an STI test. Condoms reduce the risk of most STIs but do not provide 100% certainty.
  • Regular STI screening: Get tested for STIs regularly if you are sexually active. Early detection is essential for timely treatment and preventing further spread. Use the Easly STI Test Guide.
  • Avoid multiple sexual partners: Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of contracting an STI. Limit the number of sexual partners and be open about your test results.
  • Vaccinations: Consider vaccinations against specific viral STIs, such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). Consult a doctor for vaccination advice.
Dokters advies


There are various STIs that men can contract when sexually active. Men with multiple sexual partners, men engaging in sex with men, or those who have had sex with sex workers are at a higher risk of acquiring STIs. Anyone sexually active should undergo regular testing to prevent severe complications and further spread. We discussed symptoms indicative of specific STIs and provided essential tips for prevention. Be aware of your risk, openly communicate about STIs with your sexual partners, and get tested regularly.

drs. Elise Janssen

Approved by a doctor

drs. Elise Janssen

Medical content writer

Drs. Elise Janssen completed her MSc. in Medicine at the Free University, Amsterdam. She is currently training as a family physician at Amsterdam UmC. For Easly, she writes medical blogs and reviews medical texts.

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