Understanding the Process of STD Testing

Understanding the Process of STD Testing

Tooba Pasha Waqar |Jun 3, 2021

How Long Do STD Tests Take?

If you believe you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), you may be worried about your long-term health at the moment. There are various types of STDs. While some can be treated with medication, some common diseases, like herpes or HIV, are permanent and can affect your quality of life. If you believe you are at risk, testing is needed. So, how long do STD tests take and what do you need to know about them? Read on.

Depending on the STD and the moment from when the symptoms start appearing, testing your body for the strain can take several weeks after you have been exposed. If you have a curable STD, your doctor will get a re-test before beginning treatment.

But keep in mind, time is of the essence. STDs and STIs do not work as viral infections. Referring to the sexually transmitted part of the term, you can only get these infections and diseases from sexual contact with an already infected person.

If you suspect that the person you came into contact with was infected, you must get yourself tested as soon as possible.

What Are the Most Common STDs?

Several common STDs do display symptoms within the first few days or weeks. Unfortunately, given the nature of these diseases, it is also common for them not to show any symptoms at all. So, you might go months or even years without knowing you have an STD.

The National Coalition for Sexual Health lists various timelines for sexually active people. Whether you have been abstinent for a short period or even if you are in a long-term relationship, it is wise to get tested, especially if your doctor recommends it. There’s no need if you believe you have not exposed to any STDs.

However, if you have had multiple partners or are in an open relationship, or are polyamorous, this will increase your chances of developing symptoms for the following STDS:


Symptoms occur one to three weeks after exposure, though they can start later as well. Symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain in women (testicular pain in men)
  • Pain when urinating
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Vaginal bleeding after sex or after menstruation


Symptoms occur in the first two weeks after exposure. Symptoms include:

  • Yellow or green discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain while urinating


Symptoms occur within the first six weeks or at the six-week mark. Symptoms may occur within four days if previously diagnosed. Symptoms include:

  • Spotted red rashes
  • Itching on and around the genital area (worse at night time)


Symptoms occur two to three weeks after exposure but can develop sooner. Symptoms include:

  • Blotchy rashes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Painless ulcers or sores on the genitals
  • Ulcers or sores may ooze syphilis bacteria

Genital Herpes

Symptoms may develop four to seven days after exposure. However, there is a greater chance you may not have any indications of the infection. Symptoms include:

  • Severe itching around the genitals
  • Tingling sensation around the genitals
  • Pain while urinating
  • Painful blisters on the genitals

Genital Warts

Symptoms may develop three weeks later, but they may also take months or even years to develop. Symptoms include:

  • Itchy growth around the genitals
  • Small growths and bumps around the anus and genitals (growth will not be so obvious)


Symptoms may develop within two to six weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Red rashes all over the body
  • High fever, headaches, aching joints and muscles, sore throat, and other flu-like symptoms

Duration for STD Testing

To answer "how long do STD tests take?" it is good to know that each test is different, depending on the type of STD. Here's what to expect:

  • Chlamydia: The type of tests used include blood, urine, or a swab test, and the re-test period will be three months.
  • Gonorrhea: Testing includes blood, urine, or swab test. There’s a wait period of two weeks after a confirmed diagnosis and treatment to ensure negative results.
  • Herpes: This is tested via a Pap smear for women; there’s no test for men. There is no re-test period.
  • Syphilis: This is tested through a blood test with a re-test period of three months.
  • HIV: This can be tested through a blood test, saliva sample, or nucleic acid test. There’s no re-test period.

Swab sample is typically taken from the throat, cervix, rectum, or vaginal canal

STDs, like genital warts, scabies, and genital herpes, require a physical examination before the doctor can make a diagnosis. Because of the obvious physical symptoms each STD causes, your doctor may inquire about your recent sexual history to estimate a timeline.

After making a diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe medication to control the severity of the STD symptoms.

A Note on Preventing STDs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using condoms, getting tested before initiating sex, and getting vaccinated to prevent STDs. They also recommend talking with your partner about safe sex and getting tested if either has been with multiple partners.

While it does seem like an uncomfortable conversation, talking about STDs and your past experiences ensures you and your partner are both safe during sex. If you need further education on STDs, the CDC also recommends talking with your healthcare provider to know all the details on keeping yourself safe.

Final Thoughts

While getting an STD may be disruptive to your lifestyle, it is not life-threatening, and now you know the answer to "how long do STD tests take?" You also know how to spot the signs and symptoms of STDs, and when you should seek a doctor's help.

Getting regularly tested and being safe can easily prevent STDs. So, educate yourself and be aware of the information regarding safe sex.

Your body is a temple, and you must do the best you can to protect it from anything that may cause it harm.

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