Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are not always symptomatic. Most of them do not present with symptoms until they reach an advanced stage. Therefore, those exposed to an STD or those that belong in high-risk groups should screen themselves for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STD rapid kit tests can tell you if you have an STI in less than 20 minutes at home. If any of the following situations apply to you, you should probably get yourself tested:
- You had unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex
- You shared needles using injectable drugs
- You have multiple partners
- Your partner has multiple partners
- You are a man who has sex with men (MSM)
- You are bisexual
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and incubation period
Even when symptomatic, STDs do not appear immediately. The time it takes from the moment you acquired the infection until the moment the disease becomes symptomatic is the incubation period. During this period, you can transmit the STD to others without knowing it. Although some conditions have an incubation period of two to four days, others might take a week or more to become symptomatic. For example, chlamydia's incubation period is 1 to 3 weeks, whereas hepatitis B shows symptoms 4 to 6 weeks after exposure.
The first sign of syphilis
Syphilis's incubation period is 10 to 90 days, but 21 days on average. The disease typically presents with a chancre, a firm, round, and painless ulcer that represents the entry point of the infection. It can also be open and wet. The appearance of the chancre outlines the beginning of the first stage of the disease. The infectious site is usually on or around the genitals, anus, rectum, or in the mouth of the person infected. The syphilitic chancre is not always easy to notice as it may hide in parts of your genitals or mouth you cannot see. Other times, it may mimic a pimple or ingrown hair. The chancre disappears on its own without treatment. However, syphilis progresses to its second stage, characterized by a syphilitic rash, which may mimic lots of other skin conditions.
Early chlamydia and gonorrhea symptoms
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two quite common bacterial STDs that often coexist. They usually present with similar symptoms such as some of the following:
- Genital discharge
- Pain or burning sensation during urination
- Painful sex
- Intermittent vaginal bleeding
- Testicular tenderness and swelling
- Abdominal discomfort
Although the two diseases may mimic each other, they are both usually asymptomatic. Treatment is simple using antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Chlamydia and gonorrhea left untreated may lead to severe complications such as sterility. To get tested for both STDs at home, you can use an STD rapid test kit.
Acute HIV infection
An HIV infection may present with symptoms two to four weeks after contracting the virus. The individual might feel like she or he has the flu. Symptoms and signs include:
- Fever and chills
- Sore throat or generalized fatigue
- Decreased appetite
- Night sweats
- Sores in the oral cavity, or genital area
- Pain in the muscles
- Changes in bowel habits with diarrhea
However, only a few individuals experience symptoms which may last for up to four weeks, finally declining on their own. The condition, known as an acute retroviral syndrome, often goes unnoticed.
HPV and genital warts
Genital warts appear in the first 3 months after initial exposure to the specific HPV strain. They are benign soft and irregular growths that develop in the genitalia of infected individuals. They are not always noticeable and may look like a bump. When symptomatic, they cause discharge, itching, bleeding, or a burning sensation. If left untreated, they might spread and cause significant pain and discomfort. Although HPV is an incurable infection, individuals can manage the symptoms effectively. Other strains of HPV cause infection that resolve on their own after an estimated two years. However, some strains are malignant and may cause oral or cervical cancer. Hopefully, there is a vaccine against some of its most dangerous strains.
Acute hepatitis syndrome
Newly infected people with HBV or HCV rarely present with any symptoms. However, acute hepatitis may last for up to 6 months. This period is highly infectious, regardless of whether it is symptomatic or not. When it presents with symptoms, it might lead to the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
Although HBV and HCV are two different viruses, they both affect the liver and lead to similar symptoms and signs. You can get tested for both with an STD rapid kit test at home, and get your results in 15 minutes.
Early symptoms of genital herpes
Genital herpes presents with one or multiple blisters on the mouth, genitals, or anus of the infected individual, which later develop into small, painful sores, known as herpetic ulcers. A new genital herpes infection usually develops with fever, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle pain. Herpes is a virus that stays in your body forever. However, you can manage the disease with antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. You can diagnose herpes simplex alone at home with an STD rapid kit test.
The importance of early diagnosis of an STD
Diagnosing an STD as soon as possible is of extreme importance. Most untreated STDs can lead to life-threatening medical conditions. They can also affect the health of your unborn child. Also, some STDs increase your chances of acquiring other infections, such as HIV. Not knowing you have an STD is dangerous because you may transmit it to others, including the ones you love. Exposing yourself to an STD is already an alarming sign you should get tested. Early diagnosis equals early intervention and treatment, meaning fewer complications and more chances for recovery. Many untreated STDs become harder to treat with time. Such an example is undiagnosed chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most easy-to-treat STDs. For infections such as HIV, early diagnosis results in early intervention. Most people that continue taking their antiretroviral treatment have undetectable viral levels and can live an average life.