How Soon Can I Get Tested for STDs After Unprotected Sex?

Why Should I Get Tested for STDs?

There are an estimated 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases and infections every year, and half of all Americans will contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) during their lifetime. Getting tested for STDs is essential if you are going to engage in unprotected sexual activity. Anyone who engages in unprotected sex runs the risk for exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. We answer a common question, “When should you get STD testing?” based on the different incubation periods (minimum window periods) of each STD, so that you know what time frame STD testing can be done accurately. Using our STD incubation period chart, you’ll always know long it can take for each STD to show up in your system and on an STD test.

What Is an STD Incubation Period?

The timing for when to get STD tested varies depending on the sexually transmitted disease because the incubation (or window period) time in everyone’s system varies. Each infection takes a varying amount of time to multiple enough to show up in a lab testing sample. Check out the STD incubation period chart below for information on when to get tested for the most common sexually transmitted disease based on the types of FDA-approved STD testing we offer:

When Should I Get Tested for STDs?

STD NameHow Soon to Get Tested; Why That Time-Frame?If I Test Positive, Do I Need to Get Retested After Treatment?
Chlamydia24 Hours - 5 DaysGet tested again 2 weeks after treatment to ensure that you are clear of the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
Gonorrhea2-6 DaysGet tested 2 weeks after being treated to ensure that you are clear of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria.
Syphilis3-6 WeeksGet tested again after 3 months to ensure that you are clear of the Treponema pallidum bacteria.
Hepatitis A (HAV)2-7 Weeks; the hepatitis A virus averages a 28-day incubation period.Retesting is not necessary, since Hepatitis A is a virus, and remains in your system for life.
Hepatitis B (HBV)6 Weeks; hepatitis B can occasionally be detected as early as 3 weeks after exposure, but for more accurate results we recommend getting tested after 6 weeks.Retesting is not necessary, since Hepatitis B is a virus, and remains in your system for life.
Hepatitis C (HCV)8-9 WeeksGet retested after 3 months to confirm your initial test results.
Oral Herpes (HSV-1/Herpes I)4-6 WeeksIf you tested negative, get retested frequently if you have unprotected oral sex or come in contact with Herpes 1 fluids like saliva or semen.
Genital Herpes (HSV-2/Herpes II)4-6 WeeksEven if you tested negative for Genital Herpes, it is advised to retest after 3 months to confirm the initial results.
HIV (HIV Antibody Test Method)1-3 MonthsRetesting is not necessary, since HIV is a virus and remains in your system for life. Seek treatment if you test positive for HIV.
HIV (HIV RNA Test for early detection)9-11 DaysRetesting is not necessary, since HIV is a virus and remains in your system for life. Seek treatment if you test positive for HIV.

How Soon Do STD Symptoms Appear?

Take control of your sexual health by arming yourself with knowledge—Just because you do not have signs or symptoms after these STD incubation periods have elapsed, does not mean you do not have an STD; many cases are asymptomatic or present themselves similarly to other common illnesses like the flu. Protect yourself, avoid risky behavior, and get tested for STDs often. Preventing the transmission of diseases is the only way to decrease the number of infected people who can potentially spread diseases. Get tested today, and get peace of mind in 24-48 hours.

 STD Incubation Period Infographic When to get tested

Medically Reviewed by on October 1, 2018 - Written by STDcheck Editorial Team.

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