Bacterial and viral infections are a serious concern. Men and women often prefer not to get tested because they do not want to be embarrassed. Sometimes, they avoid testing because they do not know when a potential infection occurred.

Leaving an infection untreated can result in more serious complications. Even though it is difficult to diagnose a sexual disease that has been contracted, early detection is key. The best way to ensure you do not have an STD is by getting a free test kit at Read to learn how long it takes for an STD to appear on a test.

STD Incubation Period

It takes time for your immune system to recognize and create antibodies against a sexually transmitted disease after contracting it. It’s possible not to feel sick throughout this “incubation” period.

Early testing for an STD can yield false-negative results if the incubation period has not yet elapsed.

Having symptoms is not always a valid diagnosis of infection because most STD tests employ antibodies as the disease status. That’s why, even if you don’t feel sick, you should get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) you suspect you may have been exposed to. Here are the analysis of STDs and when to test:

STD nameWhen to testWhen to re-test
Gonorrhea2-6 daysTwo weeks after finishing treatment, you should get tested to ensure the Neisseria gonorrhea bacteria have been eradicated.
Chlamydia24 hours-5 daysA follow-up test 2 weeks after treatment is recommended to ensure the bacteria has been eradicated.
Hepatitis A2-7 weeksHepatitis will always be present in your body, and further testing is unnecessary.
Syphilis3-6 weeksAfter three months, you should get re-tested to ensure the bacteria has been eradicated.
Hepatitis B6 weeksAfter three months, you should get re-tested to ensure the bacteria has been eradicated.
Oral Herpes4-6 weeksIf you engage in oral sex without protection or come into contact with Herpes or semen, you should get re-tested regularly, even if you previously received negative results.
HIV9-11 daysHIV  lives dormant in your body for years because it is a virus; periodic re-testing is unnecessary. If you have tested positive for HIV, you should get treatment.
Genital Herpes4-6 weeksRe-testing for Genital Herpes after 3 months is recommended even if you test negative the first time.
Hepatitis C8-9 weeksAfter three months, you should get re-tested to verify your previous results.

Can STDs Lie Dormant?

Yes, certain STDs can lie dormant and not be detected. In some cases, it is possible for people infected with an STD to show no symptoms at all—especially if they have only recently been infected or if their immune systems are strong enough to fight off the infection before it becomes active within the body’s cells. 

It is difficult for doctors to detect infection until symptoms appear later when the body becomes less able to fight off an infection.

Routine STD screening is the most effective way to detect and treat sexually transmitted diseases that have lain dormant for an extended period. The Centers for Disease Control(CDC) recommends that anyone who is sexually active and has new or multiple partners get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at least once a year.

Benefits of Early Detection and Treatment of STDs

Early detection and treatment of STDs help preserve your health, help you avoid serious complications, and even save lives. If you have any symptoms associated with an STD, you should see a doctor immediately.

Early detection and treatment of STDs can help you avoid the long-term health consequences that can occur if you do not get treated. It’s important to know that tests for STDs are not always accurate right away. Some potential risks involve:

  • Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea cause infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Difficulty during pregnancy and delivery due to bacterial STDs and hepatitis B.
  • A lack of treatment for syphilis can lead to organ failure, dementia, paralysis, or even death.
  • Untreated HPV causes cervical cancer in women.

Frustratingly, there’s no simple answer to the question of how long it takes an STD to show up on a test. With so many factors involved—the type of STD, the type of test, and individual body chemistry vary widely from person to person. Furthermore, while most tests are highly accurate if used properly, some people may receive false negatives or false positives on their tests. Consequently, you should always follow up with your doctor for a proper diagnosis once your results are returned.

By Manali