Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are characterized by ambiguous or even flu-like symptoms in the early stages, making it difficult to specifically identify a sexually transmitted infection. For men, especially, a lack of symptoms is not a reliable measure of whether an STD is present. The symptoms that usually alert men to the presence of an STD are bumps or rashes on the genitals, discharge, discomfort or itching in the penis or testicles, or pain while urinating or ejaculating. Even a symptomless STD infection can have long-lasting or irreversible effects if left untreated.
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STD symptoms in men usually take a few days to develop, but can take up to weeks (if there are symptoms at all). A lack of symptoms is often mistaken for a lack of an STD, but an infection can continue to progress even in the absence of symptoms. Because men so often don’t show symptoms, the only way to be sure that an STD is not present is to get tested regularly, especially after unprotected sex.