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By: RSC Editorial Team

August 6, 2021

STDs of the Mouth: Oral STD Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

If you think you have an oral STD, you're probably pretty worried and have spent a lot of time Googling “STD in mouth” and looking at all the pictures, which made you feel even worse.

First, stop Googling and take a deep breath. You will get through this. The next step is to take action by getting an STD test. Here at Rapid STD Testing, we can help. We offer fast, safe, and confidential STD testing to help you determine if you need treatment. 

You can choose from a full range of same-day testing panels and get an accurate diagnosis within one to three days. Take back control of your sexual health and order an STD test today.

Common Oral STD Types

There are many types of oral and genital STDs. Some are more common than others, but the signs and symptoms of STDs of the mouth tend to be similar. Common oral STD symptoms include:

  • Redness or swelling inside the mouth
  • White spots on the throat or tongue
  • Swollen tonsils 
  • Sore throat
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sores inside the mouth
  • Difficulty when swallowing
  • Lesions or fever blisters around the mouth

1. Chlamydia

You can contract chlamydia orally or in your throat if you perform oral sex on another person infected with this STD. 

What Are the Physical Signs and Symptoms of Oral Chlamydia?

Unfortunately, if you contract this STD orally, you might not have any symptoms. If you do show symptoms, you may think it's something else at first, like tonsillitis. The signs may present as difficulty swallowing, chlamydia bumps on the tongue, or even white spots in the back of the throat. However, this sore throat STD rarely shows any signs or symptoms beyond just that: a sore throat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the United States. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to unknowingly transmit the chlamydia bacteria to your mouth if it's present on your fingers or another body part. However, you can cure this infection quickly with an antibiotic regimen.

2. Gonorrhea

If you're sexually active, gonorrhea is another common STD you can contract by vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You're at risk for contracting this STD if your mouth, skin, or tissues come into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

Gonorrhea in your mouth typically presents symptoms about a week after infection, if they present at all. Some may have a sore throat or experience pain and a burning sensation in their throat. Other symptoms include bright red spots in the back of the throat and swollen lymph nodes.

The symptoms of oral gonorrhea are similar to strep throat. While getting an STD test is the best way to tell the two apart, one distinct difference is that strep often causes white spots in the mouth or throat. Gonorrhea more commonly causes inflammation with red spots.

3. Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It's another common STD that doesn’t always show symptoms. According to statistics by the CDC, about 70% of people never show symptoms at all. That's why it's crucial to get a test, even if you're not showing any signs of trichomoniasis. It’s especially important if you’re female since this STD affects women more than men.

With or without symptoms, you can still pass trichomoniasis to other people you have sexual encounters with, including oral sex. If you're one of the 30% of people who develop symptoms, they may range from minor irritation (like discharge) up to severe inflammation that can make it painful to have sex. The most common treatment for trichomoniasis is an oral prescription called Metronidazole.

4. Syphilis

Syphilis is one of the more dangerous STDs, but only if it's left untreated. If you come into direct contact during sexual activity with an infected sore (called a chancre), you can contract syphilis. These sores occur on the genitals, anus, or mouth. You can also contract syphilis in the mouth by performing oral sex on an infected person.

Syphilis will show symptoms anywhere from 10 to 90 days after contact, but it develops in three different stages, which can last for years if untreated. The most common symptom of oral syphilis is small, circular, and painless chancres that form in or around your mouth. You can quickly and easily treat syphilis mouth with a penicillin injection. If you think you have syphilis, you can get our same-day STD testing. You'll need your results as soon as possible to start treatment quickly.

5. Herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2

The two different types of the herpes simplex virus are HSV-1 and HSV-2. Unfortunately, if you contract herpes, you'll have it for life. That may sound scary, but you can easily control herpes by taking antivirals. This treatment prevents outbreaks and drastically reduces the chance of transmission to your partner.

Herpes Simplex Virus 1

HSV-1 causes painful oral sores, commonly known as a cold sore or fever blister. Oral herpes is very common—according to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 4 billion people in the world carry it. HSV-1 spreads by kissing or having oral sex (performing or receiving) with an infected person. 

The symptoms of HSV-1 include developing cold sores around the mouth or lips about four days after exposure. You can treat the sores temporarily with over-the-counter medication, but antivirals are necessary for long-term management.

Herpes Simplex Virus 2

HSV-2, also known as genital herpes, is another prevalent STD. You can contract genital herpes by having unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person, even if they're not having an active outbreak.

If you want to get tested for herpes, you can order the panel from us online and then come into one of our convenient locations the same day to take the test. If the test is positive, we'll direct you to a clinic or doctor where you can get the antiviral prescription you need to live a normal life with no outbreaks.

6. HPV: Human Papillomavirus

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that occurs on the genitals or mouth. There are over 40 different subtypes of oral HPV. Certain subtypes can even lead to mouth or throat cancer. Some subtypes don’t show symptoms, and others cause lesions or warts that grow in the mouth and, more commonly, on the tongue. These STD bumps on the tongue are generally painless and non-cancerous, though.

HPV is extremely common. Most people will contract it at some point in their lifetime. You can get HPV through direct skin contact with bodily fluids, including during sexual intercourse, oral sex, or mouth-to-mouth contact. 

For example, if you perform oral sex on somebody infected with HPV, you can contract it in your throat or mouth, especially if you have an open cut or canker sore. Currently, the only treatment for HPV is the vaccine.

7. Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a virus categorized into three types: A, B, and C. You can contract hepatitis A through direct oral contact with stool from somebody who has the virus. That type of infection can occur through oral sex or when people don't wash their hands after using the bathroom and then touch other people's food.

Hepatitis B is present in bodily fluids and blood, which are the two primary ways it spreads between people. That means that you can contract hepatitis B by sharing needles or having oral sex with an infected person. 

Hepatitis C spreads through contact with an infected person's blood, but it is possible (though unlikely) to get it by having unprotected sexual intercourse or oral sex. General symptoms of hepatitis A, B, and C include fatigue, joint pain, nausea, jaundice, and chronic stomach pain.

8. HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus

If you have unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has HIV, you’re at a high risk of contracting the virus. Treatment options for HIV have advanced considerably. Many people successfully manage this virus with antivirals or other medications that can also help prevent spreading the virus to their partners. 

Symptoms of HIV include night sweats, muscle aches, fever, chronic illness, lesions, swollen lymph nodes, and a sore throat.

HIV.gov estimates that around 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV, and the scary part is that 13% of them don't even realize it. Even if you aren’t showing symptoms of HIV, please get tested regularly. Here at Rapid STD Testing, you can order a full 10-panel STD test (including HIV) to get the answers you need to be in full control of your sexual health.

9. Epstein Barr Virus

You may have never heard of Epstein Barr virus (EBV), but it's actually part of the herpesvirus family. You can contract EBV through direct exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected person, including saliva. That means that you can catch EBV through oral sex, traditional intercourse, even kissing or sharing a drink.

EBV causes infectious mononucleosis, also known as the kissing disease. EBV also causes oral hairy leukoplakia, which are hard white patches that grow on the tongue. Typically, symptoms will show up anywhere from four to six weeks after exposure. If you are showing any of these symptoms, you should get an STD test immediately.

How To Get Tested for STDs In Your Mouth

If you're ready for a rapid STD test to check if you have an oral STD, we can help. You can easily order a test panel right here on our website. Our testing is confidential, which is why we don't take insurance. If you do choose to file an insurance claim for a positive STD test, you can. However, your results will go on your permanent medical records, and you’ll probably face an increase in your monthly premium.

After you order the STD testing panel you want, you can head to one of our convenient testing locations that same day or the next day, whenever is easiest for you. Once you get there, we'll ask you for an oral swab or urine sample. We don't ask for genital swabs, but you wouldn't have to give this type of specimen anyway if you're only getting an oral STD test.

After you provide a specimen, your results will be available to you on our secure and confidential online server in one to three days. Just log on, and you can view your results in the privacy of your own home. No need to wait for them to come in the mail!  

How Long Does It Take for an STD to Show Up in Your Mouth?

After exposure, the time it takes for an STD to show up in your mouth depends on the incubation period of the specific STD, which is how long it takes for your body to recognize the disease. Most people don’t show symptoms at all during this period, which is why it’s crucial to get an STD test even if you’re asymptomatic. You could still have an oral STD and not have symptoms yet.

For example, some STDs have an incubation period of one day, like gonorrhea, and some can take up to 10 years, like HPV. However, most oral STDs have an incubation period of a few days to a few weeks.

Treatment for Oral STDs

The treatments available for oral STDs vary on the type of STD. Infections usually require antibiotics and viruses require antivirals. Here’s a rundown of the basic treatment methods for STDs in the mouth:

Antibiotic Treatments

Gonorrhea is a bacterium, so the standard treatment is a round of antibiotics. Unfortunately, there have been more and more strains in recent years that are antibiotic-resistant. If you receive treatment for oral gonorrhea and you're still experiencing symptoms, you need to see your doctor again for more antibiotics.

Oral chlamydia and syphilis are also bacterial infections that require antibiotics. The standard treatment for chlamydia is oral antibiotics, whereas syphilis usually requires a penicillin injection. It's also important to remember that if you're undergoing bacterial treatments for these STDs, you should refrain from sex during your treatment regimen, or you could risk passing the STD to your partner.

Antiviral Treatments

If you test positive for an oral STD that's a virus, such as herpes or Epstein Barr virus, the standard treatment is antivirals. Treatment may also include topical anesthetics to help with pain (if necessary) or a mouth rinse to help relieve symptoms from sores or cankers.

For example, doctors usually treat HSV-1 with a topical medication to reduce pain from cold sores, which helps your body rest and recover while you take antivirals. The most common prescription for herpes is Valacyclovir, which you can take daily as preventative medicine or as needed during outbreaks. Taking antivirals can also help prevent transmission to future partners.

Get an STD Test So You Can Receive Treatment Right Away

If you come to one of the Rapid STD Testing locations and you end up with positive results, you don't need to panic. We only provide testing, not treatment, but our expert consultants will refer you to a different clinic where you can receive treatment, or you can use your primary doctor. 

However, it's important to remember that the first step to successful treatment is getting tested, which you should do at least every six months or if you ever show symptoms.

Preventing Oral STDs

There are three main methods for protecting your oral health and preventing STDs in the mouth: communication, protection, and good oral hygiene. 

First, it's essential to be open with your partner and communicate. Ask them if they've ever had an STD, if they're currently showing symptoms, or if they've ever had an STD test. After your conversation, you can both get tested here together if that's what you decide.

The second part of preventing oral STDs is using protection every single time. It only takes one unprotected event to contract an STD, which is why you need to use a condom or a dental dam every time you have oral sex or sexual intercourse. You can create a dental dam on the fly by cutting the ends off a condom and then cutting it lengthwise, so you're left with one large square.

The third component is good oral hygiene. If you have gum disease, your risk of contracting an oral STD is much higher. You're also at a higher risk of contracting an STD in your mouth if you have a cut, canker, or an open sore, which presents a way for bacteria or a virus to enter your body. Practice good oral health and get on a regular testing schedule for STDs so you can stay safe and healthy.

Take an STD Test Today and Gain Control of Your Sexual Health

If you think you have an STD in the mouth, you can take charge of your oral and sexual health today by getting an STD test. Order your STD testing panel and get tested to keep your sex life happy and healthy.


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By: RSC Editorial Team
August 6, 2021

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