Questions About STD Testing? 1-800-666-1250
Safer STD Testing

STI / STD Testing Basics

Here is what you need to know

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY: DR. ALVIN KRISHNA, MD

HomeSTI / STD Testing Basics

Should I Get Tested For STDs?

While the idea of being tested for STDs can sometimes seem uncomfortable or even frightening, it’s one of the smartest things you can do for your health, especially if you’re sexually active and not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship.

The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) released testing recommendations and guidelines in 2015. The CDC recommends that:

When are STDs Detected?

Generally speaking, if you have unprotected sex with a new partner, you should be tested for STDs. It can be difficult to know when to be tested since not all STDs are detectable at the same time.

Gonorrhea

is detectable between 2 and 30 days after exposure

Chlamydia

is detectable between 1 to 3 weeks after exposure

Syphilis

is detectable between 10 days to 3 months after exposure

Herpes

is detectable between 2 weeks to 3 months after exposure

HIV

is detectable between 4 weeks to 3 months after exposure

Hepatitis A

is detectable between 3 weeks to 3 to 6 months after exposure

Hepatitis B

is detectable between 3 weeks to 2 months after exposure

Hepatitis C

is detectable anytime up to 6 months after exposure
This can seem overwhelming, but you don’t need to remember this schedule precisely.

EXPERTS RECOMMEND BEING TESTED 1 TO 2 WEEKS AFTER UNPROTECTED SEX, AND THEN AGAIN 90 DAYS AFTER POTENTIAL EXPOSURE

Getting tested for a STD is important even if you don’t have symptoms. In fact, the majority of individuals with a sexually transmitted disease experience no symptoms, or symptoms so slight the signs typically end up being ignored.

What is the STD Testing Process Like?

There is no single test that checks for all STDs at once. However, you can get a general panel done, which includes multiple tests done in the same visit that check for the most common types of STDs. You can even buy STD panel testing kits online, which generally test for the most common diseases. The way tests are administered differ.

Here is a list of testing procedures for common types of STDs.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, also known as The Clap, is a bacterial infection that may cause infertility if left untreated. It’s a common STD, with over 3 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Gonorrhea does not always cause symptoms, but when it does, they include burning when urinating; white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis in infected men; increased vaginal discharge and vaginal bleeding between periods in women; and anal itching or bleeding and painful bowel movements if contracted during anal sex.

Testing method: Urine sample or swab of genital area
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: 2-3 days for results
Things you should know: Tell the tester if you’ve had anal or oral sex, as these areas may need to be tested as well.
Treatment: Gonorrhea can be cured with medication. Be aware, however, that any damage caused by the disease cannot be reversed through treatment, and some damage is permanent. Some strains of gonorrhea are harder to treat than other strains, as some gonorrhea is drug-resistant. If your medication isn’t helping after a few days, contact your medical provider.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection most common in young women, though men can also contract this disease. Many people infected with Chlamydia do not manifest any symptoms, but those who do might experience painful urination and uncomfortable sexual intercourse. You might also experience discharge from the penis or vagina, or discharge or spotting from your eyes.

Testing method: Urine sample or swab of genital area
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: 2-3 days for results
Things you should know: Tell the tester if you’ve had anal or oral sex, as these areas may need to be tested as well.
Treatment: Chlamydia is very treatable and can be cured with antibiotic medications prescribed by your doctor.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that initially manifests as a painless sore. If left untreated, this infection can cause a full-body rash in about 4-10 days after exposure. If still untreated, Syphilis can harm internal organs 3-15 years after the infection is contracted. This STD is less common than some other infections, with less than 200,000 cases in the United States each year.

Testing method: Sample taken from sore or a blood test
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: 2 days 
Things you should know: The CDC strongly recommends that pregnant women get tested for Syphilis.
Treatment: Chlamydia is very treatable and can be cured with antibiotic medications prescribed by your doctor.

Genital Herpes

People can contract herpes around their mouths in the form of cold sores, though this is less serious than Genital Herpes. You might contract genital herpes without any symptoms, but if you do show symptoms, it will manifest as painful sores around the genitals. These sores can turn into ulcers or scabs.

Testing method: A blood draw if there are no symptoms or a swab of the infected area with symptoms.
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: 2 hours to several days, depending on the type of test and whether or not a culture needs to grow
Things you should know: Up to 90 percent of people who test positive for Herpes show no symptoms, so be sure to get tested even if you don’t see any sores in the genital area.
Treatment: Outbreaks of genital herpes can be managed with antivirals, but this infection cannot be cured. It may last for years or even a lifetime.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver. It can be transmitted via infected blood as well as through sexual contact. Left untreated, Hepatitis B will inflame the liver and eventually cause cirrhosis, a serious condition that can lead to liver failure, which may mean that you’ll end up needing a liver transplant. Symptoms of this disease usually include pain in the abdomen, fatigue, nausea, yellow skin and eyes, and swollen blood vessels in the skin.

Testing method: 3 blood tests
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: 1-3 days
Things you should know: As this disease affects the liver, it is best to avoid alcohol if infected.
Treatment: Hepatitis B can be easily prevented with a vaccine. In the case you do contract it, it can be treated with an antiviral drug. In some mild cases, Hepatitis B will clear up on its own.

Hepatitis C

Similar to Hepatitis B, this disease attacks the liver and causes inflammation, though most people who are infected don’t have any symptoms. If it isn’t treated, it can lead to liver cancer, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Hepatitis C can be transmitted sexually and through infected blood.

Testing method: blood tests
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: 1-3 days
Things you should know: Often, two blood tests are used to determine if you have Hepatitis C. First, a test is done to see if you’ve ever had Hepatitis C in your life. If that test returns positive, then a second test will be administered to see if you have it now.
Treatment: As this disease affects the liver, it is best to avoid alcohol if infected. Hepatitis C is treatable with antiviral drugs.

Trichomoniasis

Where most STDs are caused by bacterial infection, Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that is transmitted sexually. It is a highly common disease, with over 3 million cases each year in the United States alone. Pregnant women with this infection may be at risk for premature delivery. Infected women might experience odorous vaginal discharge, painful urination, and genital itching. Men typically show no symptoms.

Testing method: Physical exam, swab of infected area, urine sample, or sample of discharge for women
Testing time: 10-15 minutes
Time to results: A few days
Things you should know: Trichomoniasis can infect both men and women, but it is harder to detect in men. Wait 28 days after exposure to be tested to reduce false negative results.
Treatment: Trichomoniasis is highly treatable with antiviral medication, and usually clears up in a few days to a few weeks.

HIV

Arguably the most serious STD you can contract, HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It evolves into AIDS and makes it difficult for your body to fight off infections by taking over the cells that usually defend the body. A few weeks after being exposed to HIV, you might experience a fever, fatigue, or a sore throat. After that, you might not experience any symptoms until the disease progresses into AIDS. HIV is rare, with less than 200,000 cases each year in the United States.

Testing method: 3 types of blood tests
Testing time: 30 minutes to a few days
Time to results: 1-3 days
Things you should know: There are different blood tests to check for HIV based on the window of time in which the testing is done.
Read More
  • Antibody tests check for HIV antibodies in the blood. It can take 3-12 weeks from the time of exposure for this test to read correctly.
  • The next type of test is a combination test, which checks for antigens and antibodies. It can take 2-6 weeks from the time of exposure for this test to read correctly.
  •  NATs tests look for the HIV virus in the blood. This test will be accurate anywhere between 7 and 28 days from the time you were exposed to HIV.

You can be tested for HIV confidentially and even anonymously. Those administering the tests and giving your results don’t even have to know your name and can instead refer to you as a number you receive when you take the test.

The CDC recommends that every pregnant woman be tested for HIV as soon as possible, and also suggests that everyone age 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once.

Treatment: There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, anti-retroviral therapy, known as ART, can prolong life by slowing the disease’s progress. ART can also prevent secondary diseases and infections from occurring.

Stop Waiting and Get Tested Today!

Choose between Public, Private or At Home STD Testing.

COMPARE YOUR OPTIONS

Disclaimer

  • Safer STD Testing is an informational referral website. It refers customers to nationally reputed private STD Testing service providers ("Preferred Service Providers" or "Advertisers"). Safer STD Testing is not a medical or healthcare professional facility or a provider of any medical or healthcare services. Safer STD Testing gets compensated on net purchase of products or services by our users referred to such Preferred Service Providers. Click here to read our full disclaimer.
  • Please review terms and conditions of service by our“Preferred Service Providers” or “Advertisers”.
Copyright 2013-2021 SaferSTDTesting.com | All Rights Reserved.
Safer STD Testing
Got Questions About STD Testing? Call 1-800-666-1250
chevron-downcross-circle