Woman experiencing flu-like symptoms from STD

Flu-Like Symptoms In STDs

Written on October 21, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Fall is almost here, and the flu season is around the corner. Here in the United States, the flu virus usually spreads during the fall and winter months.[1] Precise timing and duration are not exact, and each flu season can vary, but flu activity upticks around October and peaks between December and February.

Symptoms of the flu can be confused with other infections, such as COVID or the common cold.[2] Other diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), may also show symptoms that are very similar to flu symptoms. Continue reading to learn more about the flu, flu symptoms, and flu-like symptoms in STDs.

About The Flu

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by four different types of influenza viruses: A, B, C, and D.[3,4] The viruses can infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.[3,4] The influenza viruses are transmitted through respiratory droplets from the mouth and respiratory system during coughing, talking, and sneezing. It can also be transmitted by touching a surface or object with the flu virus and subsequently touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. The influenza viruses can be transmitted before seeing symptoms and until five to seven days after an infection.

On average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu each season.[3] Between 2010 and 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the flu resulted in 9 million to 14 million illnesses, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 to 52,000 deaths each year.[5]

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Flu Symptoms

Influenza is an acute disease causing inflammation of the respiratory tract, causing mild to severe illness.[3,4] Acute symptoms can last between seven and 10 days. Typical symptoms of influenza include a runny or stuffy nose, high fever, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. In healthy people, the flu infection takes a few days to recover from, but complications (such as pneumonia and death) are more common in high-risk people.

High-risk groups consisting of children, the elderly, immunocompromised individuals, and pregnant women are more prone to complications. Severe complications can develop within 48 hours from the onset of symptoms.

Flu-Like Symptoms In STDs

Signs and symptoms of STDs may sometimes overlap with the symptoms of the flu.[6,7] Here are six STDs that have flu-like symptoms [6,7]:

  • Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. According to the CDC and World Health Organization, chlamydia is the most common curable sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Chlamydia may present with flu-like symptoms in women, including fever, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhea can lead to localized inflammatory reactions and include symptoms such as a sore throat.
  • Genital Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 and 2. It is estimated that 50 million Americans are infected with genital herpes. Flu-like symptoms are fever, malaise, and headaches.
  • HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is caused by the HIV virus, which is a two single-stranded RNA virus. Most HIV infections in the United States are caused by the HIV-1 virus. Initial HIV signs and symptoms are often described as flu-like and often misdiagnosed as an acute viral infection. Flu-like symptoms can include fatigue, fever, diarrhea, headache, and sore throat.
  • Syphilis is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. According to the CDC, syphilis infections are increasing when compared to past reports. Flu-like symptoms of syphilis can consist of fever, fatigue, and headache.
  • Hepatitis infections are caused by Hepatitis A, B, or C viruses that affect the liver. Some people do not develop signs or symptoms, but for those who do, the signs and symptoms may take several weeks after exposure. Flu-like symptoms include fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and fever.

Next Steps With Everlywell

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms and think you have been exposed to STDs, consider connecting with a healthcare provider. Everlywell offers online STD consults in 2 hours or less. The virtual call will include a discrete, up to 30-minute video appointment with a licensed healthcare provider where you can discuss your sexual health concerns and get your questions answered. During the appointment, you will be provided personalized recommendations and next steps that may include additional STD tests or prescription medication, if applicable. You can also test at home with Everlywell Sexual Health Tests.

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Can You Get A Sexually Transmitted Infection Without Having Sex?


  1. Flu season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.html. September 20, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2023.
  2. Flu symptoms & complications. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm. October 3, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2023.
  3. Key facts about influenza (flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm. October 24, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2023.
  4. Boktor SW, Hafner JW. Influenza.[Updated 2023 Jan 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459363/
  5. Disease burden of flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html. October 4, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2023.
  6. Garcia MR, Leslie SW, Wray AA. Sexually Transmitted Infections.[Updated 2023 May 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560808/
  7. Common STD symptoms. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/in-depth/std-symptoms/art-20047081. May 5, 2022. Accessed October 10, 2023.
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