If you recently engaged in unprotected sex and now worry that you may have gotten an STD, you may wonder when you should bes bested. STD rates are rising, so this is a valid worry. So what to do? Getting an STD test is a good move, but you could be surprised to discover that you can get tested too soon.
If you think you have gotten an STD from a partner, you may want to run out and get tested today. But that can be a big error; a test too early can be inaccurate. This may make you think you do not have an STD when you do. The reason is that every STD has an incubation period when you need to wait to get a good test result. Just as with many things in life, it’s all about timing.
STD Incubation Periods
The incubation period for an STD is the period of time from when you first contact an STD to when the antibodies in your body group to fight the disease. STD tests examine the presence of such antibodies. If you do not wait long enough, you may not have waited long enough for your body to grow enough antibodies to fight the disease and the test may be wrong.
Even after you have waited for the period to end, you still may not see signs of the disease. Many sexually transmitted diseases do not show symptoms at all. Or they are so minor that you could think you only have a cold. Symptoms could come and go. But this does not mean you do not have an STD. This is the reason it is so important to be tested; there is no other way to be totally sure of your STD diagnosis.
When to Get Tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
- Chlamydia: 24 hours to five days. If test is positive, get a retest two weeks later after treatment.
- Gonorrhea: 2-6 days. If test is positive, get a retest two weeks after treatment to make sure you are clear.
- Syphilis: 3-6 weeks. Get another test after three months to ensure you are clear.
- Hepatitis A: 2 to 7 weeks; the virus has a 28 day incubation period. Retesting is unnecessary as the virus is there for life.
- Hepatitis B: 6 weeks. Retesting is not necessary as the virus stays in the body for life.
- Oral herpes: 4 to 6 weeks. If you tested negative, you should be retested often if you have had unprotected oral sex.
- Genital herpes: 4-6 weeks. If you tested negative, you still should be retested three months later to confirm results.
- HIV: 1-3 months. Retesting is not needed as the virus will stay in your system forever.
When Do STD Symptoms Appear?
How long it will be for a sexually transmitted disease to show symptoms depends on the STD. It also depends on how long the incubation period is and how strong your body’s immune response is. Some STDs can be tested for, such as chlamydia, only one day after possible exposure. But HIV and syphilis make take a month or more before they can be tested for accurately.
It is important to remember that STD symptoms are not always the best measure to determine if you or your partner has an STD. Many STDs can present no symptoms at all for years. So, there may be no noticeable sign of any illness at all. Also, it is possible for a person to have no symptoms to still infect others. This can happen with gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and HIV. That is why it is so important to be screened regularly.
Safer Sex Still Has an STD Risk
It is important to note that worries about incubation periods for STDs are not just for people who are practicing unprotected sex. Practicing safer sex with condoms, for example, will reduce your risk. But they only cut the disease risk that spread skin to skin and not bodily fluids, they cannot totally prevent them. So, that is why it is a wise idea to talk about STD testing before you engage in sex with a new partner.
What to Do After Having Unprotected Sex
The first thing you should do is go to the restroom. Most women who get urinary tract infections have had sex in the last day. It is a good idea for a woman to urinate immediately after sex.
Keep in mind that your risk of developing an STD is not 100%. STD rates are rising, according to the CDC, but your risk of getting one is not that high. Factors that matter include the age of your partner, where he lives and how strong your immune system is. It also matters if you have any tiny abrasions on your vagina, penis, anus or mouth. (2)
After 24 hours, women should take note of anything unusual in their genital region. This could include any unusual discharge, which include color that is less clear, more white or bloody. Also look out for any unusual smells that are fishy or yeasty. Pain or itchiness also can indicate something is amiss.
After two weeks, you may want to be seen by your OB/GYN if you had a one-night stand. That is when you can get least a preliminary ‘all clear’ on most STDs. Your body might not have developed all the antibodies it needs to fight the STD at the 14 day point, but a clean test result at this point may offer a bit of security.
Not sure? Want a piece of mind? Order your iDNA At Home STD Test Kit today!
- (1) How Long Before STD Symptoms Appear? (2018). Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-long-before-std-symptoms-appear-3133026
- (2) What to Do After Having Unprotected Sex? (2018). Retrieved from https://greatist.com/live/what-to-do-after-having-unprotected-sex