With STD rates rising higher than ever before, this is a totally valid and legitimate concern. So what do you do? Getting tested would be a very smart decision, but you may be surprised to learn that you can actually test too early. If you feel like you could have contracted an STD, your instinct may be to get tested immediately, but this can be a huge mistake.
Or, how long after exposure will STD symptoms begin to appear? When you first contract an STD, your body needs time to recognize and produce antibodies to the disease. During this time period, known as the incubation period, you may not experience any symptoms. If you test for an STD too early and the incubation period is not over yet, you may test negative for the disease even if you do have it. In addition, even after the incubation period has passed, there are some STDs that can take months or years to produce symptoms. Since most STD tests use antibodies not symptoms as a marker of disease status, having symptoms is not necessarily a reliable marker of infection. Every STD has its own incubation period. For some STDs, the body begins to produce antibodies and symptoms in as little as a few days.
After unprotected sex or when you discover a strange symptom in your pubic area, you may wonder about your risks of getting an STD. Below, you will find a few guidelines for how long it usually takes for STD symptoms to show up after exposure. This is the STD incubation period—the length of time between infection and when symptoms appear. Knowing them will help you determine if you have an STD and take appropriate action. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that symptoms aren’t always a good measure of determining whether you or your partner has an STD. In other words, there are no noticeable signs of infection.