How Long Does It Take an STD to Show Up on a Test?

how long does it take an std to show up on a test

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It is always advisable to practice safe sex. The truth is, there are just so many risks out there.

However, if you have had unprotected sex, you may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease. If indeed you suspect you may have caught something, getting at-home STD testing as soon as possible is very important.

Nonetheless, there are certain Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) that take longer to show up in a test while others take less time. In this post, we will explore this further by assessing how long it takes for different STIs or STDs to show on tests. We will also have details about safe sex as well.

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How Long Should I Wait Before Getting Tested

As a rule of thumb, always get tested for STDs immediately after being exposed. Yes, some diseases like HIV will take upwards of three weeks to get detected in a normal test. But others like gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia can be detected within days after exposure.

Additionally, visiting a testing center is not just about getting test results. You also get the opportunity to talk to medical experts and ask any questions you may have. This can go a long way in lifting the anxiety that is associated with exposure to STIs.

The medical professionals will also provide important details about testing, including how long you should wait before getting a second test, and what you can do for the time being to limit the risk of re-exposure. You can also order STD testing at home as well if you don’t want to visit a medical center.

What is an STD Incubation Period?

Once your body is exposed to an STD, it will need time to recognize the infection and produce the right antibodies to combat it. This timeframe, between the moment of exposure and the time the antibodies are produced, is called an incubation period.

It is important to note that, during the incubation period, you may not experience any symptoms of the STD and most likely, the disease will also not show up on the STD test kit. Besides, if you test before the incubation period is over, your test may return a false result.

This is very risky because STDs can be transmitted from one person to another even during the incubation period. Based on this, everyone should  always practice safe sex. This is especially true if you suspect that you may have been exposed to an STD.

Do not put your loved ones at risk. Even if your test returns a positive result, consult with your doctor about incubation periods of various STDs and how long you should wait to be fully sure you are out of the woods.

STD Testing Guide

As we have noted above, different STDs will take different times to show up in an STD test at home. For this reason, we decided to look at some of the most common STDs and how long it will take each of them to show up in test results.

Here is the full list:

  •   Chlamydia: 7 – 21 days
  •   Genital Herpes: 2 – 21 days
  •   Gonorrhea: 1 -14 days
  •   Hepatitis A: 15 – 50 days
  •   Hepatitis B: 8 – 22 Weeks
  •   Hepatitis C: 2 – 26 weeks
  •   HIV: 2 – 4 weeks
  •   Syphilis – 3 weeks. Some strains may however take up to 20 years to show symptoms
  •   HPV – 1 month but some strains may take up to ten years

Can Some STDs Remain Dormant in the Body for Years?

For most people, the best case scenario after exposure to an STD is to get a negative result. However, a positive result is not the end of the world. With proper medical care, most STDs these days can be treated and managed, including HIV.

Unfortunately, there are some STDs that will stay in your body for years. You will not show any symptoms or feel anything. But the disease will be there and it will be communicable to other people. The biggest risk here is that even a dormant STD, one that stays in the body for years, can lead to serious health complications.

This dormancy is often referred to as a period of latency. It is basically a situation where you have an STD but you remain asymptomatic for a very long time. Common STDs that have a long latency period include chlamydia, hepatitis C, HIV, and HSV. However, syphilis may have an even longer latency period. Some studies even show that some people can harbor undetected syphilis for nearly 20 years.

So, how do you know you have a dormant STD? Well, it’s simple. Get an STD test at home regularly. You see, a lot of people wait until symptoms start to appear before they go for a test. This is not recommended.

The CDC recommends that any sexually active adult gets regular STD screening. Adults with new or multiple partners are always advised to get an STD test at least once every year. This ensures that even if there is a dormant infection in your body, it will be detected early enough before you infect the people you care about.

Why Does Early STD Detection Matter?

A lot of people dread the idea of getting an STD. But even if you go out of your way to practice safe sex, there is always a small risk that you may get exposed to any of these diseases.

There is nothing wrong with exposure, it happens all the time. The most important thing is to ensure the disease is detected early and that you get proper treatment. But why is early STD detection so important?

Well, here are some reasons:

  •   Protect Your Loved Ones

We have explained above that just because your STD hasn’t started to show symptoms, it doesn’t mean you cannot infect other people. If there are people you care about in your life, then you need to make sure you don’t put them at risk of an STD infection.

Getting tested and detecting these diseases early will help you practice safe sex that keeps the people you love safe.

  •   Untreated STDs Can Cause Serious Health Issues

Some STIs or STDs may wreak havoc on your health if they go for too long without getting treated. For example, untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea have been known to increase the risk of infertility among women. These STDs may also cause pelvic inflammatory disease.

On the other hand, HPV, another common STD, may increase the risk of cervical cancer in women if not treated in time. Women may also face the risk of complications during childbirth if they have an untreated STD.

HIV and hepatitis B in particular are very dangerous because they are bacterial diseases. This, therefore, means that the risk of infections during birth will be very high in case these diseases are still in the body.

There are also a lot of health risks associated with untreated syphilis. Some research in fact shows that untreated syphilis will increase the risk of dementia in men. The disease may also cause paralysis and even lead to death if it’s not treated.

  •   Take Control of Your Sex Life

Getting an STD, or going through a scare, is probably the wake call we all need to start taking control of our sex life.

We are always bombarded with info about safe sex. But let’s be honest, there are a lot of people out there who don’t take this seriously.

However, the moment you are exposed to an STI, then you will realize just how important safe sexual practices are.

Getting online STD testing early for an STD is key in helping people take full control of their sex life and start practicing safer sex. Eventually, this will save you from future STDs scares.

Do STDs Have Vaccines?

Yes, some STDs do have vaccines. However, this still doesn’t reduce the risk of transmission.At the moment, only three known STDs have a vaccine.

They include HPV, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B. There is a lot of research right now in the development of an HIV vaccine but we are still not there yet.

But, all the other STDs do not have vaccines. This, therefore, means that the risk of infection is still there. So, even if you have received shots for the three diseases above, you must always practice safe sex to avoid any complications.

What Should I Do After Getting Tested?

In most cases, the results of your STI or STD test will come out instantly. But, you may be required to return for a second test just to confirm the earlier result.

During this period, you must do everything you can to ensure you don’t get exposed to another STI. This means abstaining from sex or practicing safe sex when you can’t.You will also get details from your health provider about how to take care of yourself and your loved ones during this period.

Getting exposure to an STI will no doubt cause a lot of anxiety. Even if your first test returns a negative result, you will still have a lot of worry waiting for the second one.

Talk to your health care provider about your anxiety and ask as many questions as you can. Having the right information about your situation will go a long way in putting your mind at ease.

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