The idea of being infected with a sexually transmitted disease is something that most people fear, yet millions of people act in reckless behavior and decide to have unprotected sex. The World Health Organization ranks unprotected sexual activities as number two on the list of the health risk factors that causes the majority of disease-related burden throughout the world. A survey by the CDC found that about 46% of high school-aged students who had sex within the last three months did not use protection, such as a condom, to practice safer sexual intercourse.

Many people do not realize that they are affected by an STD at first since there are many of these diseases that are asymptomatic during the early stages. As the infection progresses without treatment, however, serious complications can develop – which could have been avoided with early intervention. A common sign of an STD following unprotected sex is sores or marks that appear on the genitals. We explore different STDs that may cause this, ensuring you know what to get tested for.

Sexually Transmitted Infections That Cause Genital Sores

More than 25 different sexually transmitted diseases have already been identified – and the majority of these can be managed, but not completely cured. This is why you will often see campaigns about protecting yourself during sex – as making a mistake only once can cause consequences that could haunt you for the remainder of your life.

A lot of STDs tend to be asymptomatic. What this means is that you may not experience symptoms – especially at the beginning of the infection. As the disease progresses without being treated, however, you face the risk of suffering complications, and this is when the more serious symptoms start to develop.

There are some cases where initial signs may develop – and genital sores are definitely something you should not take lightly. Also known as genital ulcers, when sores are found on your genitals, it may not only be uncomfortable and sore but also causes you trouble in the bedroom – they might impact your self-esteem when having sex.

READ
Do I have the flu or an STD?

Three of the most common infections transmitted through sexual intercourse that are known to cause genital ulcers or sores include:

  • Syphilis
  • Chancroid
  • Herpes

Understanding the differences between these and knowing what additional symptoms to take into consideration can help you identify the specific STI you might have contracted. This also makes it easier to buy a home testing kit and determine if you have antibodies to the particular infection present in your body and reduces the need for multiple tests at a physician's office.

We take a closer look at the three common STDs that are known to cause genital sores below, along with other symptoms to look out for and what you should expect.

Syphilis

Syphilis might be just as dreaded and feared as HIV. Untreated, this particular STD has been shown to cause serious issues in the patient’s body, which makes early detection and diagnoses even more critical for your own well-being.

There are four stages in which syphilis can be present, including:

  • Primary syphilis
  • Secondary syphilis
  • Latent syphilis
  • Tertiary syphilis

Each stage has its own signs and symptoms that you need to be on the lookout for. During the early or primary stage of the STD, you may notice that there is a single sore that develops at some part of your body – and this part is often the genital area. In some cases, you may experience more than one sore. These sores tend to be painless, and they will often be firm. The sore caused by syphilis during the primary stage will go away after about six weeks – but this does not mean the disease has gone away.

READ
The Side Effects of HIV On Your Body

Apart from a genital sore, syphilis may cause skin rashes, lesions, spots, a sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and many other symptoms as the disease progress.

Chancroid

Chancroid is an STD that not everyone has heard of before. This is because the prevalence of the condition is not as high as it was at a certain point in time, but the infection still affects people, and it is one that can cause ulcers to develop on your genitals. Thus, it is important to take it into consideration when determining what may be the cause of sores in your genital area after you had sex without any protection.

This STD is caused by a bacterium that travels from the infected person to you. Once you become infected with the bacteria, you may develop different types of sores. The sores may be painful in some cases. The inguinal lymph nodes are usually enlarged when a person is infected with chancroid. Suppuration has been noted when the inguinal lymph nodes become enlarged.

Treatment generally includes one of three drugs:

  • Macrolide
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Ceftriaxone

The purpose of these drugs is to eliminate the bacterial infection caused by chancroid. In turn, it would assist in clearing up the sores that have developed on your genitals. Most people will see improvements within the first three days after treatment has started.

Herpes

Herpes is the most common STD that is associated with genital sores. Even though not the only STD that can cause this particular symptom, it still affects millions of people. The condition is caused by a virus that enters your body during sexual intercourse with an infected person. One surprising fact about the herpes virus is that a lot of people do not experience any symptoms – this does not mean you cannot continue spreading it to others.

There are two types of genital herpes, including:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1
  • Herpes simplex virus type 2, or HSV-2
READ
Do I have the flu or an STD?

The sores that are caused by herpes will usually start out like a blister. When the blister breaks open, this is when the sore develops. These sores are usually painful.

When Should You Get Tested?

A lot of people put off testing for sexually transmitted diseases, even after they had sex with someone. When you develop these sores on your genitals, then you might realize that it is time to get yourself tested, but in reality, testing should really have been done long ago. Any person who is sexually active should get themselves tested for the most common STDs frequently. Those who participate in unprotected sex are especially at risk, which means getting tested soon after this activity is critical to help detect the presence of a sexually transmitted infection during an early stage.

Many people are concerned about their privacy when visiting a local clinic for testing, which is where STD test kits come in handy. With these kits, there is no need to visit a local clinic to determine if you have been infected. Keeping some STD at-home test kits at your disposal ensures you can perform the appropriate tests when you have participated in unprotected sex.

Conclusion

Having unprotected sex puts you at risk of being infected with several STDs. While some of these diseases can be effectively treated and cured, others can only be managed and will be present in your body for the rest of your life. The development of sores and marks in your genital area after you had unprotected sex can mean that you have obtained an STD. There are, however, different infections that can cause these symptoms, which is why getting tested is the first step to take.

References

https://www.who.int/whr/media_centre/factsheet1/en/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/index.htm

https://chastity.com/qa/how-many-stds-are-there/

https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/chancroid