A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Symptoms (167)

I have been having nausea and loss of appetite come and go and had protected sex about 4 months ago. I am very afraid I contracted and std or hiv. I feel my lymph nodes are a little swelled in my neck as well. What are these symptoms related to?

Hi, and thanks for your question.

These symptoms could be related to any number of things ranging from viral or bacterial infections all the way to stress, fatigue and anxiety. However, they are not symptoms of any STI. If you are concerned about an STI from the encounter 4 months ago or any other sexual encounter we would recommend seeing a care provider for testing.

Have a look at our Clinic Finder to help locate a clinic for STI testing near you

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Hi me and my gf tested positive for Chlamydia and we were both given Azithromycin. It’s been 7 days but I’m still experiencing a little bit of clear discharge from my penis. Is it okay for us to have sex or should I wait until the discharge is gone?

Hi, and thanks for your question.
As long as you both took the Azithromycin and waited for 7 days, you should be fine to resume having sex. It can take a bit of time for discharge to clear completely, but the infection itself will be gone. If the discharge doesn’t clear completely in the next couple of weeks, you might want to see your testing provider for further assessment and follow up

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Hello, visit a massage parlour back in 2017 and a week later I had burning throat low blood pressure,slow heart rate,and soon after I start to have red spots on chest and back non itchy,I have itchy buttocks for couple months burning sensation on the skin of the testicles for months,felt tired and luck of energy overall,I have first tes for hiv and other stds at 3 weeks and 6 weeks test for shyphilis and hiv at 3 months,now I still have a red spots coming and go but one on my nose won’t clear up and causing my nose to swelling.should I get test again? I have contact a clinic a few times but they keep telling me is no need for retest.is that hiv at 12 weeks and shyphilis at 6 weeks conclusive.?

Hi, and thanks for your question.
The window period (the time between when a person comes in contact with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and when the STI will show up on a test) for HIV and for syphilis is 3 months. In fact, 95% of HIV tests are accurate after just 6 weeks but it can take up to 3 months for the final result. It sounds like you have tested several times after this 3 month window period, which means that your tests will be accurate and that you are negative for both HIV and syphilis and it is not necessary for you to get tested again.
The symptoms you describe do not sound specific to either infection. It does sound like you are feeling quite anxious and it might be helpful for you to see a counsellor to talk about the anxiety you are feeling about this sexual encounter and the fear of possibly acquiring HIV or another STI.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I had protected sex about 3 months ago but i dont know if the condom was latex or not. I am very worried if I have hiv. I have some sort of bumps on the inner part of my foreskin (uncircumcised) that do not hurt. I have also been getting increased acne and dry lips and sometimes a cough that reappears. Can hiv get through a condom and what might these symptoms indicate?

Hi, and thank you for your question

Condoms, when used properly, can prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV.
The symptoms you describe are not associated with an HIV infection. If you are concerned about any current symptoms or about STIs I would recommend seeing your doctor for assessment. And of course, we recommend routine testing for all STIs (including chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis) for all sexually active individuals.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

My genitals have fishy odour discharges

Hi there,

If you are concerned about a change in your vaginal discharge, either because it looks, feels or smells differently, it would be a good idea to get checked by a health care provider.

Sometimes these changes are part of your normal hormonal cycle, sometimes they are related to an STI, or sometimes they can be because of a yeast infection or an imbalalance of your normal vaginal bacteria.

One common reason for changes to the odour of discharge is something called Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Information on BV can be found here: https://smartsexresource.com/topics/bacterial-vaginosis-bv

Hope this helps.


I just had protected vaginal intercourse for 30 seconds about a month ago and I didn’t have much skin to skin contact. It’s been a month and I haven’t had any symptoms. What are my chances of getting genital herpes or syphilis?

Using a condom during sex is a great way to protect yourself from STIs. 

You are right however that with skin to skin contact there is always a risk of getting infections that are transmitted this way. 

Getting genital herpes or syphilis is often more complicated than just having direct skin to skin contact as it involves many different factors like at what stage of the infection the person is at who has the infection (do they even have an infection or are they currently having an outbreak or sores), the immunity of the person who may get the infection (are they already immune, are they healthy, are they immunocompromised), the time, timing and nature of the contact… to name some examples.

If you are sexually active, it’s always a good idea to get tested. If you have symptoms you should get tested right away, and if you do not have symptoms you should get tested routinely at least every 3-4 months or so if you have new or different partners. 

More information about “my chances” can be found here: https://smartsexresource.com/about-stis/my-chances


I’ve have oral gonorrhea I’ve had it for over a year but i wasn’t sure what it was and was to embarrassed to talk about it my throat is really bothering me and is swollen can my symptoms be reversed?

Hi there,
Thanks for writing.
Gonorrhea is curable with antibiotics. Did you get treatment for it? You should have been given treatment from the place where you got your gonorrhea test. If you have not returned to pick-up the medication since getting your results, then I would recommend going to get the treatment.
The antibiotics are very easy to take, and the infection will be gone in seven days following treatment.
We do not generally hear about people having symptoms such as sore throat which gonorrhea. Even when we find gonorrhea in the throat through a swab test, it is almost always asymptomatic.
If you’ve been treated for gonorrhea, and continue to have symptoms of a sore throat, then I would recommend going to see another healthcare provider in-person. Many common infections can create a sore throat, for example strep throat and staph infections.
Lastly, we would not expect gonorrhea to live for year in the throat. The tissues in the throat are not the preferred tissues for gonorrhea, and it tends to be quite transient in that part of the body. I wouldn’t assume you’ve had it for a year.
Hope this helps!
Please feel free to submit another question as needed.
Health Nurse

i broke out in red bumps, sores down there like last year. I went to go get it check out and the nurse said it might’ve been herpes. i got soo scared and depressed. Before i left she said “it might or it might be not.. ” Then the results came back, they only told me i had chlamydia and gohnorrhea, but said nothing about the herpes? Can those stis cause sores having it at the same time? Its been 2 years since those sores broke out, ive never had the same thing since.

Thanks for your question.
Were you tested for herpes at the time you tested positive for chlamydia and gonorrhea? Because they should have done a swab on your genital sores, and if they had a positive result from the swab they would have told you. It’s very likely that it wasn’t herpes.
As far as your past symptoms of the sores… we don’t usually think of sores associated with chlamydia and gonorrhea, however those infections can cause increased discharge, and that discharge can irritate the genital tissues and cause skin breakdown. Skin breakdown can feel like small cuts or tears in the skin, which can be painful and sting. Any painful sore will be suspected to be herpes, which is likely why the nurse said that.
The fact that you haven’t had any repeat sores show up, makes it even less likely that it was herpes.
Since you weren’t given an official herpes diagnosis based on your testing, I would assume it was not herpes.
Herpes can be scary to think about, but I hope you can feel better about this now.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions, or need more information.
Health Nurse

have some stupid mistakes in my life and I am paying heavily for this Episode. #1 october 29,2014 I had protected vaginal sex with a female csw.I also french kissed her.Later found the girl HIV +.After 5 weeks I experienced severe flue type illness.Swollen lymph nodes under jaw and neck,loose stool,hedeach,severe muscle and joint pain,rash on both arm. I have tested after 3 months with 3rd generation rapid test,after 5 months with 3rd generation elisa, after 6.5 months with 3rd generation rapid test.All are negative.#Episode 2 November 17 2015 I was with a female csw..We were fully naked.The girl offered me to have unprotected sex with her.As far as I can recall I didn’t penetrate the girl but my penis came close to her vagina.Now my mind says if I penetrated the girl without my knowing though I didn’t feel anything. Episode 3# July 16 2017 I had protected oral and protected vaginal sex with a female csw.Dont know why? Vaginal part only lasted 10-15 seconds.The girl seemed a consistent condom user.No real symptom aftee 1-4 weeks. Episode 4 # October 17 2017 I had protected vaginal sex with a csw.She offered me to have sex without a condom for extra charge.But she assured me she gets tested every month. Now you are thinking whats the real problemActually Im experiencing the symptom of overt aids.Lose of appetite,Loosing weight,fatigue, dizziness ,swollen lymph nodes,loose stool,stomach upset,nail fungus,clubbing nail and slight dementia are making my life hell. I dont know what to do? I cry and pray to God.Ive ruined my life.In my country HIV stigma is very deep and like a death sentence.


It sounds like you are really worried that HIV has passed to you. With what you have written it sounds like you used a condom when you had vaginal sex, which would provide great protection against HIV.

The symptoms you have described are symptoms that can be caused by other medical conditions other than HIV. This means it’s not accurate to use symptoms as a way to see if HIV has passed to you. The only way to find out if HIV has been passed to you is by doing a HIV test. We find that 3rd (antibody) and 4th gen (Antigen/Antibody) HIV tests would give you a final result after 3 months. I see that you’re last testing was back in 2014. I am wondering if you have considered going for another HIV test.

I know it can be difficult going for a HIV test when you fear the worst. It is also made so much worse if you’re in a country that has a high degree of stigma and danger when someone has HIV.

This must be a hard decision for you to make, but going for a test will not change the fact if HIV is there or not, it will just let you know your status. If it’s a bit of information that you really want to know it may be possible to get an anonymous test somewhere or possible get a home based kit so that you keep that information private. If you’re unsure if it’s the correct time to test it may be helpful to find a person you trust and ask them if you could talk to them about the advantages/disadvantages of going for a test.

It’s common for us to see people at our clinic who are worried that their current health concerns have been caused by HIV and they fear going to their doctor for a test. We offer them a way to do an anonymous test so if they are HIV negative they can then go to their family doctor knowing that it is not HIV causing their health concerns.

Let us know if it would be easier for you to chat with a nurse on our chat line about this.

Health Nurse

My lymphosites getting low after unprotected sex now it is only 14% (20-40normal) after 5 months of exposure (vaginal+oral) With unknown lady. But my combo and rapid test at 3&5 months are negative. I have a lot of symptoms diarrhea, extremely fatigue, yeast infection on tongue since 5 months. Is it due to acute hiv infection and RNA PCR helpful for my situation?


It’s not possible for someone to say that someone has HIV because of a low percentage of lymphocytes and the symptoms you described, as this can be caused by other medical conditions and is not specific to just HIV. But I could see why someone would be concerned especially after a sexual risk that could have passed HIV. 

A HIV test is really specific for HIV and since you did the test at 3 months it would be very accurate. Given this I would say that it is not HIV that is causing this problem for you and a HIV PCR test would not be helpful.

I would talk with the health professional who ordered the test for you. It would be good for you to have a conversation with them about your blood test results and the symptoms you are having. Hopefully they would be able to give you some idea of what could be causing the problem or do further investigations to see what could be going on.

Health Nurse