A question that may commonly pop up after a one-night stand is, how long after contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD) is it detectable? This is a complex question, and the answer can often be ambiguous. The issue here is that each sexually transmitted infection consists of a unique incubation period. Meaning that an STI cannot be detected immediately, and what makes matters worse is that this period of incubation will differ from person to person. But because we can never be sure, this blog aims to inform you of the standard incubation periods for the most common STIs.
Otherwise known as the ‘clap’, Gonorrhea takes around 2-6 days to incubate. This infection is commonly characterised by symptoms including discoloured or unusual discharge from the vagina or the end of the penis, painful urination, discharge or bleeding from the anus, or sore testicles in men and tummy pains in women. Fortunately, Gonorrhea is easily treated with antibiotics. After diagnosis and treatment, it is important to test again in two weeks. This is to ensure that you’re fully clear of infection.
Chlamydia has a short incubation period. It can take an infected individual as little as a single day to exhibit symptoms, where most people can detect and treat this STI within five days of infection. Like Gonorrhea, the symptoms are similar, where infected individuals can experience a burning sensation while urinating and abnormal penile and vaginal discharge. Chlamydia is another STI that is easily treated with antibiotics. Like Gonorrhea, it is of importance to retest again 2 weeks following treatment to ensure that you’re fully clear of the infection.
Consists of a longer incubation period of around 3-6 weeks. Syphilis is one of the more dangerous sexually transmitted diseases, consisting of a multi-stage development, where side-effects can be irreversible and life-threatening. Once detected, Syphilis could be treated with antibiotics and like the two STIs mentioned prior, it is of importance to retest two weeks following the completion of treatment.
Unlike Hepatitis A and B, Hepatitis C is very treatable with antibiotics. The incubation period for Hepatitis C usually falls within 8-9 weeks. Unlike the other STIs discussed, experts recommend that individuals retest for Hepatitis C roughly 3 months after a positive test result.
For HIV, the incubation period for antibodies (one component of HIV) on average is usually 25 days to 2 months. In the case of RNA (another component of HIV), the incubation period is 2-11 days. If you get tested for HIV antibodies before the time has elapsed, it is recommended that you test again to confirm your results following the completion of the incubation period.
If you are worried about a particular sexual event, we highly advise you to wait for at least one week from the event before testing yourself with our kits. We also recommend that if you decide to take a repeat test, that this should occur three months following the point of sexual contact. The 3-month repeat test is particularly important when screening for HIV, as the latent period is longer than other STIs. Get control of your sexual health! Get testing!
We've put together a cheat-sheet of testing times here >
Did you know that many STI's don't have symptoms? If left untreated they can seriously damage your fertility, health and life.
If you’re unsure what to do or if you’re worried about an STI, we’re here to help with safe and easy tests you can do at home.
Don’t risk your health!
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