Incubation period of STDs: when do symptoms show
How soon should you get yourself screened for an STI after you have had unprotected sex. There are around 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections every year. Half of the American population get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) during their lifetime.
Getting yourself screened for STIs is crucial if you have been engaged in unsafe sexual activity. Anyone who has been into unprotected sexual practice runs the risk of being exposed to STDs. All those who have been exposed to STDs have a common question in mind, ‘when is the right time to get tested for STDs?’.
Different STDs have varied incubation periods. You can use the information on this STI incubation page so you are informed on how long it can take for each of the sexually transmitted diseases to show up in your body and on an STI screening.
What is an incubation period?
The best time to get yourself tested for an STD varies greatly depending on the STI. The incubation time in an individual varies a lot, since everyone has an immune system of their own. Each disease takes a certain amount of time to multiply enough to show up in a screening sample. It is of great importance to learn about the incubation period of STDs, as it helps comprehend when and to get yourself tested.
When is the right time for you to get tested for STDs?
Different sexually transmitted diseases have different timelines where an individual should get themselves tested. Moreover, if your STD test results positive, you need to figure out how soon you should get yourself retested after you have undergone the treatment.
- Chlamydia – Get yourself tested within 24 hours to 5 days time if you feel that you have been exposed to chlamydia. After you have been treated, ensure to get yourself tested again after 2 weeks to validate that you are free of the chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
- Gonorrhea - You should get yourself screened for gonorrhea in max 2 to 6 days. After you have been treated, ensure to get yourself tested 2 weeks after you have been cleared to the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria.
- Syphilis – 3 to 6 weeks is the high time when you should get yourself tested after you have been involved in sexual activity and feel that you have been exposed to syphilis. After the treatment, you should get yourself tested again after 3 months to ensure that you have been able to overcome the Treponema pallidum bacteria.
- Hepatitis A – Make sure to get yourself tested for Hepatitis A in max 2 to 7 weeks time. The HAV virus averages a 28-days incubation time. Retesting is not really a necessity as the virus stays in your body for life.
- Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B can generally be detected as early as 3 weeks after you have been exposed, but for more accurate results, it is recommended to get yourself tested after 6 weeks. Retesting is not necessary as the virus will stay in your body for life.
- Hepatitis C – Hepatitis C has an incubation time of max 8 to 9 weeks. Get yourself tested again after 3 months to confirm the initial test results.
- Oral Herpes – You should get yourself tested for oral herpes in max 4 to 6 weeks. If you test negative, ensure to get yourself tested again frequently if you have been involved in oral or unprotected sex or contract with Herpes 1 fluids such as semen or saliva.
- Genital Herpes – It also takes 4 to 6 weeks to get yourself tested for herpes-2 (HSV-2). You may consider getting yourself tested after 3 months to authenticate initial results.
- HIV – You must get yourself tested for HIV (Antibody Test Method) in the first 1 to 3 months. Retesting is not really needed, as the HIV virus will stay in your body for life. Seek immediate treatment if you test positive for HIV.
No symptoms after incubation time
Simply because you do not have any symptoms or signs after the STD incubation period has elapsed, does not mean that you do not have an STI; many cases are asymptomatic or have symptoms of other common illnesses such as flu. It is important to protect yourself, keep away from risky behavior, and get screened for STDs regularly. The prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is the best approach to reduce the number of infected people who can potentially spread the disease.
Average incubation time for common STDs
- Chlamydia – The fact is that many people just never show any signs of chlamydia but when it appears, it takes 1 to 3 weeks to show up symptoms after they have been exposed to the bacteria. Even the asymptomatic patients with chlamydia infection can have complications; nevertheless, it is imperative to get yourself screened regularly.
- Gonorrhea – gonorrhea is generally asymptomatic. When the symptoms show up they may appear as early as two days after you have been exposed or may take as long as a month.
- Syphilis – The first sign of syphilis appears, which is usually 20 days after infection, but can show up anytime between 10 to 90 days after the person has been exposed to the bacterium.
- Trichomoniasis – Though most men do not show any signs of trichomoniasis, symptoms in women generally appear between 5 to 28 days after they have been exposed.
- Chancroid – chancroid symptoms may show up anytime from one day to several weeks after the person has been exposed to the infection. Most people find that lesions show up within 5 to 7 days.
- Genital Warts – People having symptomatic genital warts will experience an outbreak within 3 months of the initial infection
- Scabies – If you ever had scabies before, it may take a month or even two for the signs to appear. Nevertheless, if you have been previously infected, signs may start showing up after only a few days.
- Genital Herpes – Though most people do not know that they are infected, if signs show up they generally appear within two weeks of being exposed to the virus. Some people experience hay fever and full-body viral symptoms around this time.
- Hepatitis B – The symptoms of hepatitis B appear between 4 to 6 weeks after infection. However, the virus can be completely prevented by vaccination.
- Molluscum Contagiosum – Scientists are still unsure of the molluscum contagiosum’s incubation phase. However, it has an estimated timeline from 2 weeks to 6 months.
- HIV – HIV stays asymptomatic for years – although some infected people will get flu and fever like symptoms around two weeks after they have been exposed. Nevertheless, as most people do not experience these signs, the only way to know if you have HIV or not is to get yourself tested.
STDs with little or no symptoms
It is important to keep in mind that symptoms are not always a good indicator of determining if you or your partner has an STD. Many of the sexually transmitted diseases can stay asymptomatic for years without showing any noticeable signs at all. Moreover, it is possible for a patient to have no STD signs at all and still be contagious – these asymptomatic STD's include chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and herpes. There is no alternative to regular screening.
Lack of STD symptoms does not assure that you do not have an STD.
Protected sex does not nullify STD transmission
It is crucial to know that apprehension about a possible sexual transmitted disease should not just be restricted to people who opt for unprotected sex. Even though practicing safe sex lowers your risk of getting an STD, it is not foolproof. Condoms only lower the risk of diseases that spread with skin-to-skin contact instead of by bodily fluids – they just cannot completely prevent them.