6 Surprising Signs You Might Have An STD

5. Sore throat

Not all STDs give you symptoms “down there.” If you engage in oral sex, a sore throat may indicate herpes or gonorrhea, Kelly-Weeder says. The best way to prevent this is to use a condom or dental dam during oral sex. If your sore throat really is an STD, it will often be accompanied by cold sores, fever, swollen glands and oral lesions, so don’t panic every time you come down with a cold.

6. Joint pain

Herpes, hepatitis B and HIV can all cause joint pain and muscle aches. Like many of the aforementioned symptoms, however, there are many explanations for joint pain that do not involve sexual contact at all so you’re best bet is to talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.

Now what?

You should definitely see a doctor—either your regular health care provider or schedule an appointment at your university’s health center—as soon as possible, but there are things you can do in the meantime if you suspect an STD. “If the symptoms look like a yeast infection (intense vaginal itching, vulvar and vaginal swelling, thick, white, mostly odorless discharge that looks a little like cottage cheese) [you] could try an over the counter yeast treatment like Monistat. If [you] do not get relief from [your] symptoms in a few days [you] need to be seen by a health care provider,” says Kelly-Weeder. Kelly-Weeder also recommends cool compresses or baths in mild tepid water to see if symptoms are relieved or reduced. “The most significant symptoms are those associated with abdominal pain, fever or chills. This may indicate that an STD has developed into pelvic inflammatory disease and has spread through the pelvic region. These women need to be seen immediately and should go to an emergency room if they cannot be seen elsewhere,” she says.

Finally, Kelly-Weeder believes that best treatment for STDs is simply preventative care. “Absolutely all sexually active young women should receive the HPV vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer. Hepatitis B can be sexually transmitted and most young adults have been vaccinated against this in childhood so this should not be a problem any longer. Women should remember that the best protection against STDs is to use a condom with every sexual experience. Birth control pills only protect against pregnancy, not STDs!” she says.

Moral of the story? If you’re sexually active, see a gynecologist periodically. If you suspect you may have an STD, schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can so that if you do have an infection, you can take care of it right away.