When Should I Consider STD Testing?

September 14, 2022

National Guidelines suggest testing for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) around age 25. They further propose that you test earlier if you are sexually active or at a higher risk of being exposed to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). CDC yet again recommends a retest for additional STIs if a patient has tested positive for a different STI. Read the guide below to know the best times for STD testing

Understanding STDs and Incubation Periods

The incubation (window) period is the difference between the emergence of symptoms and the day a patient was exposed to the infection/disease. But even though you might rely on symptoms to tell if you are positive or negative, some STDs might not show symptoms for weeks.


That is why it is better to rely on tests rather than symptoms. But at the same time, taking STD tests before the incubation period is over can lead to a false result - showing negative even when you might be positive.


Below are some STDs and the right time to consider a test;


For a nucleic acid test, you can get tested  10 to 33 days after probable exposure. An antigen test would need up to 18 days while an antibody test requires a minimum of 23 days to get effective test results.

Hepatitis B & C

For hepatitis B, you can be tested between 3 and 6 weeks after suspected exposure while hepatitis C allows for testing a week earlier. A retest is recommended after 6 months for accurate results.


The incubation period is about 7 for a blood or urine test. For swab tests where samples are taken from the vagina, cervix, rectum, or throat, 14 days would be required. You would also need to be retested 3 months after treatment to confirm your result.


Though there is no approved test for males, females can get tested 3 weeks after exposure with a pap smear test. There is no need for a retest after.


The incubation period ranges between 7 days to a month since exposure. Also, you would need to get a retest done 2 weeks after completing medications.


If you suspect that you have been exposed to herpes, you can get a blood or swab test done after 1 to 4 months.


You should get a test done between 5 to 14 days after exposure. If the test comes out negative, patients should do a retest 2 weeks after the first test to confirm. If the test comes out positive, then a retest can be done 14 days after the treatment.


Unlike many other STDs, Syphilis has a primary symptom that is bound to confirm exposure. Sores would usually appear 5 to 7 days after exposure. This is the time that you can consider blood testing. You should get a test done within 21 days of exposure. A retest is recommended 6 to 12 months after.

Just like other illnesses, STDs have incubation periods. Until you get the test done after the incubation (window) period, you will likely get a negative result. If you need to get your test done, then visit an urgent care center today.

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