Conditions,  Health,  Q&A

What Are Signs of STDs in Your Mouth?

This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. While STDs are commonly associated with genital symptoms, several STDs can also affect the mouth and throat. It is important to be aware of the oral signs and symptoms of STDs in order to seek timely medical intervention.

Common STDs that can Affect the Mouth

  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) – There are two types of HSV; HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes (cold sores), and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes. However, both types can cause symptoms in either location.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – Certain strains of HPV can cause warts in and around the mouth or throat. Other high-risk strains are linked to oropharyngeal cancers.
  • Gonorrhea – This bacterial infection can be transmitted during oral sex and can cause an infection in the throat.
  • Syphilis – This bacterial infection can cause sores or rashes in the mouth during its early stages.
  • HIV – The virus that causes AIDS doesn’t cause specific oral symptoms, but it can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of oral infections.

Oral Signs and Symptoms

  • Sores or Ulcers: Small blisters or ulcers that are painful or even painless might appear inside the mouth. Herpes and syphilis can cause these sores.
  • Warts: Small, rough-textured, cauliflower-like bumps in the mouth or on the lips may be caused by HPV.
  • Sore Throat: A persistent sore throat might be a symptom of an oral STD, especially gonorrhea.
  • Difficulty Swallowing or Hoarseness: This can be a sign of HPV infection, particularly if the virus has affected the throat.
  • White Patches or Red Rashes: In the case of syphilis, white patches or red rashes might appear on the tongue, lips, or inside the cheeks.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Neck: This might occur in various STDs as the body is fighting off the infection.
  • Fever or Flu-like Symptoms: These may accompany oral symptoms in cases of primary herpes infection.

Prevention and Risk Reduction

  • Use Barrier Methods: Use dental dams or condoms during oral sex.
  • Vaccination: Get vaccinated against HPV to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Regular STD Testing: Get tested regularly for STDs, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.
  • Communication: Talk openly with your partner(s) about sexual health and STD testing.
  • Oral Hygiene: Maintain good oral hygiene.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you notice any unusual symptoms in or around your mouth, particularly if you have been engaging in sexual activity, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional. Early detection and treatment are key in managing STDs effectively.

Bottom Line

Oral signs of STDs are not something to ignore. Being informed and taking preventative measures can help reduce the risk of infection. If you have any signs or are worried about your risk, do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional. Your oral health is an important part of your overall well-being.

This Q&A series article is complete and was published on July 22, 2023, and last updated on July 22, 2023.

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