Everything you need to know about STD tests

Testing for sexually transmitted diseases or infections is part of being healthy. A negative result from an STD test can provide you with a great deal of peace of mind. Don’t forget that most STDs are curable with treatment, even if your test turns up positive.

STDs can cause serious health problems without early detection and treatment. The sooner you find out, the faster you can take care of yourself and your partner(s).

Know more about STD tests

When is the best time to get an STD test?

You can take STD tests at any time. Getting STD tests frequently is a good idea if you are sexually active. Unless you fall into one of the high-risk groups, you should get tested at least once every six months.

Medical providers will rarely ask about your sexual habits unless you bring them up during a consultation or unless they are abosoltely necessary for your treatment.

What do I do if I think I have an STD?

You should seek medical attention if you think you have an STD. In case of STD symptoms, you should get tested right away. In some cases, STD symptoms may come and go over time or be so minimal that they aren’t bothersome. However, the fact that it’s gone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cured.

STDs require treatment, and many are curable. If you experience symptoms, see a healthcare provider right away. Early intervention can cure the STD and prevent its spread from person to person.

How do I get tested for STDs?

You must go to an urgent care clinic to find out if you have an STD. Most STDs have some symptoms in common with other STDs. Some people have symptoms of common diseases, such as urinary tract infections.

Sometimes doctors don’t recognize STDs because their symptoms persist after they have been treated for another illness. The key to diagnosing STDs is knowing a patient’s sexual history. Unfortunately, most medical providers don’t routinely ask about sexual health.

What are common STD symptoms?

STDs can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Some common STD symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches, swollen glands, fatigue, and tiredness)
  • Sores, wounds, bumps on your genitals, inner thighs, or butt cheeks
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Strange discharge from your vagina or penis
  • A burning sensation or irritation when passing urine
  • Pain, itchiness, irritation, or swelling in the pelvic area

When should I take an STD test after exposure?

Taking an STD test right after sexual contact is not advisable since STDs don’t manifest right away. Infections take some time to appear after exposure.

A variety of STD tests have varying abilities to detect infections. As a result, STD testing costs can range based on the test being taken. For instance, DNA amplification tests detect infections far more reliably and earlier than antibody tests that need to wait for the patient’s immune response.

The window period for testing varies by STD:

  • Chlamydia and Gonorrhea: 2 weeks
  • Syphilis: 1 week to 3 months
  • HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C: 6 weeks to 3 months
  • Genital Herpes Type 2: 2 weeks

How soon does an STD show up on tests?

The timing of the test dictates how quickly STDs are detected. The disease and your immune system determine an STD’s incubation period. When you get STD tests, it takes different amounts of time for each infection to multiply within the body enough to show up.

Your test result may be falsely normal if you do not consider the incubation period. As a result, you may have a false sense of security that your STD testing was negative when you may be carrying an STD and risk spreading it unknowingly to your partner.

Should I get an STD test if I have no symptoms?

Whether you have symptoms or not, you should get tested if you are sexually active, have multiple partners, and have recently been exposed to someone with an STD. The absence of obvious symptoms does not mean you were not exposed to one.

In some cases, STDs can remain undetected for months or even years without showing symptoms. Thus, symptoms are not a reliable indicator of your STD status. 

Infected people can transmit HIV, Chlamydia, or Syphilis to any partner and remain undetected for years. This can happen because they don’t exhibit any symptoms, or their symptoms are mistaken for other common infections, such as chlamydia being mistaken for a UTI.

In general, STDs present differently in men than in women. HPV, for example, causes cervical cancer in women but not men. Thus, waiting until you have symptoms to get STD testing is not a good strategy. 

Can safe sex prevent STDs?

Practicing safe sex can prevent STDs and STIs. However, STDs still pose a risk. Condoms and other barrier methods cannot eliminate Infections spread by skin-to-skin contact, saliva, genital secretions.

Can faithful partners get STDs?

Even faithful partners risk contracting STDs if they are sexually active, but the chances are lower. STDs are often spread by skin-to-skin contact or contact with body fluids (saliva, for example, kissing or sharing straws). That’s why all sexually active individuals, including faithful couples and pregnant women, should undergo routine STD testing.

How do I know if I should get tested for STD?

The following circumstances should help you determine whether you should get tested for STDs:

  • You are sexually active. The need for STD testing, including HIV testing, is universal (regardless of the number of partners or the use of safe sexual practices).
  • Women must get STD tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia, as they can carry these infections without feeling any symptoms, unlike men.
  • You are concerned about something strange you see or feel – a symptom, a rash, or another physical complaint that implies STDs.
  • It has been 2-3 months since you got screened for STDs, and you want to get screened again.
  • You are in a monogamous relationship with the same sexual partner. It is highly recommended to test for common STDs regularly.
  • You need to get screened for possible infections immediately if you suspect your partner has been unfaithful.
  • You and your partner want to start an intimate relationship and get screened for STDs before engaging in any sexual activity.

When should you retest for STD?

There are several situations in which retesting is recommended:

  • Checking for the same STD infection once you have had treatment for a specific STD in the past can be a wise follow-up strategy since you are more likely to develop the same infection again. Following treatment, it is a good idea to get STD tests again about three months later.
  • Regularly checking for chronic long-term infections (HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C) is recommended for you or your partner.
  • Hepatitis C is unknown to people born between 1945 and 1965 (baby boomers). There were no tests for it at that time. Infection with Hepatitis C remains a silent, untreated illness, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all baby boomers take a test for Hepatitis C at least once in their lives.
  • Whether you engage in unprotected or protected sex, protected sex is less likely to cause STDs because no body fluids are exchanged. However, it’s important to get tested for STDs when you have unprotected sex with a new partner, whether it is vaginal, anal, or oral.
  • If you are in an open relationship or have more than one partner. You will need to be tested for many STDs every 6 months and a repeat STD test.

When to get STD Test

Nao Medical uses the following as a general guideline. Cases and decisions will, however, vary from person to person.

STDWhen To Get STD TestsIf Positive, When To Get STD Test Again
Chlamydia1 – 5 Days2 weeks after being treated.
Gonorrhea2-6 Days2 weeks after being treated.
Syphilis3-6 Weeks3 months after being treated.
Hepatitis A2-7 WeeksRetesting not required. Immunity is lifelong.
Hepatitis B3-6 WeeksRetesting in 3 months to see if you developed immunity.
Hepatitis C8-9 WeeksRetesting in 3 months to confirm the initial results.
Oral Herpes Type 14-6 WeeksIf you test negative, get re-tested frequently.
Genital Herpes Type II4-6 WeeksRetesting in 3 months to confirm the initial results.
HIV (HIV Antibody Test Method)1-3 MonthsRe-testing depends on re-exposure. Get treatment if you tested positive.

Get an urgent care STD test near you

Nao Medical provides individual STD testing or an STD testing package to help you or your partner effectively learn about your sexual health status. We uphold strict confidentiality with our patients’ results and provide personalized treatment plans if needed. 


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