How Soon After Sex Can STD Symptoms Appear?

The time in which it takes for STI symptoms to appear can vary depending on the type of STI. Below we will detail exactly how long it takes for symptoms to appear for each individual.

If you’ve recently been exposed to an STD after having sex without a condom or other barrier method, you may have questions such as, how long does it take for an STD to show up on a test? Or, how long after exposure will STD symptoms begin to appear?

In this article, we’ll review the incubation periods for common STDs, the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and recommendations for testing and retesting.


Symptoms of Chlamydia usually appear 1- 2 weeks after sexual intercourse, but can appear a lot later on in some cases. It is also important to note that 50% of men and 70% of women who are infected with Chlamydia do not experience any symptoms.

Symptoms of Chlamydia include pain when urinating, pelvic pain in women, vaginal bleeding during and after sex, testicular pain, discharge from the vagina or penis.
Symptoms of Gonorrhoea typically appear within 2 weeks of contracting the STI but, again, these symptoms in some cases don’t appear until much later on. Roughly 10% of men who contract Gonorrhoea, and 50% of women do not report experiencing any symptoms at all.

Typical symptoms of Gonorrhoea include green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, as well as discomfort when urinating.


If you have contracted Trichomoniasis after sexual activity you typically begin to experience symptoms within 4 weeks but, in some cases, you may not experience symptoms until months after. Around 50% of men and women who get infected by Trichomoniasis do not experience any symptoms at all.

Usual symptoms of Trichomoniasis include discharge from the vagina and penis, discomfort when urinating, as well as irritation and itchiness around the opening of the vagina.
After being infected by Syphilis you can expect to experience symptoms after 2- 3 weeks, but in some cases they can begin earlier than this period, as well as later than this period.

Symptoms include one or more painful sores and ulcers on the genital area and flu-like symptoms that may occur weeks after. It is important to note that Syphilis symptoms are not always obvious and they may come and go throughout your treatment period.


After contracting HIV, the first symptoms can appear 2 – 6 weeks after sexual activity and they can usually last around 2 weeks but not everyone will experience them.

HIV symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, sore throat, headaches and achy muscles or joints, as well as a red rash on the body.

Due to HIV being incurable, medication has been developed that prolongs life and reduces symptoms, therefore after the initial symptoms disappear, you should not experience any further STD symptoms
If you have been infected by the STI Genital Herpes during sexual activity, you tend to develop symptoms 4 – 7 days after, but in some cases it can be months or years later. In fact, most people don’t have symptoms at all when they are initially infected.

The most common STI symptoms for Genital Herpes include small, painful blisters around the genitals, discomfort when urinating, as well as tingling or itching sensations around the genitals.
If you develop genital warts these symptoms could appear 3 weeks to several months after you have been in contact with the virus.

Symptoms include small bumps on the anus or genitals that are usually painless but itchy.
Most HPV infections are spread through skin-to-skin contact. The virus enters the body through a cut or abrasion on the skin. This can happen during anal and vaginal sex and through sexual touching. HPV can also linger on sex toys, even after they have been cleaned.

How soon should I get tested for STD after unprotected sex?

We would recommend waiting at least 14 days after having unprotected sex before booking a private STI test to allow for the incubation period. The incubation period is the period between coming in contact with the virus and when your antibodies begin to fight it. If the antibodies do not have time to develop and you get tested before the incubation period has ended then the test will show up as a false negative.


STD are not always transmitted every time you have sex but that still doesn’t mean we would reccomend taking the risk.

STDs can also be transmitted through any sexual activity such as oral sex, kissing and touching. STDs can be restricted from transmitting infection via bodily fluid by using contraception such as a condom, but this is not a 100% reliable method of using STDs.

Early diagnosis and treatment of STDs is important for taking care of your sexual health. While it’s important not to test too early for STDs, knowing the incubation period of the most common infections can help you determine when to seek medical help.

If you test positive for an STD, whether bacterial, viral, or parasitic, receiving treatment can help to reduce the risk of long-term health complications.