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Understanding the STD Testing Window: What You Need to Know

std testing window

To take care of yourself and your sexual partners, it’s important to have regular sexually transmitted disease (STD) tests.

In this article, we’ll talk about the STD testing window and when to get these tests and how frequently, so you can have safe sex and avoid complications.

How Do STD Tests Work?

STD tests use a fluid sample from your urine, mouth swab, discharge, or blood. 

There isn’t one test that covers all of the bases. This is why there are different methods of testing for various sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

STIs are the same thing as an STD. The only difference is that the word “infection” seems to have less stigma than “disease”.

In any event, each of these tests looks for your body’s reaction to potential infections.

If you contracted an STD, your immune system fights off the infection with proteins called antibodies

It’s important to understand this process, at least in a simplified way, because this will help you understand STD testing windows (i.e. when you should get a test). 

What Is an STD Testing Window?

Since the tests look for antibodies, it takes different amounts of time for your body to have an immune response.

This is known as an incubation period, or the amount of time it takes for the antibodies to start fighting the infection.

This means that if you get a test too early, your results may be inaccurate. If you’re experiencing any symptoms related to STDs, it’s likely that you’re past the incubation period and should get tested.

What Are the STD Testing Windows?

Each infection has its own incubation period.

Typically, bacterial infections have shorter incubation periods:

  • Chlamydia: 1-3 weeks
  • Gonorrhea: 1-2 weeks
  • Syphilis: 3-6 weeks

It’s smart to wait until the end of the incubation period to ensure accurate results. For instance, if you’re testing for chlamydia, you would want to wait 21 days until after you suspect you contracted the infection.

For viral infections, the incubation periods often are longer:

  • Genital herpes: 4-6 weeks
  • Oral herpes: 4-6 weeks
  • Hepatitis A: 2-7 weeks
  • Hepatitis B: 6 weeks to 6 months
  • Hepatitis C: 8-9 weeks
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): 1-3 months
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV): 1-3 months

When Should I Get Tested?

You should get tested regularly. The frequency of how often you get tested depends on:

  • Sexual activity (e.g. monogamous, multiple partners, protected, unprotected, and/or new partners)
  • High-risk situations (e.g. sexual relations with a sex worker, IV drug users, and/or multiple partners)
  • If you’ve had an STD before
  • If you’re experiencing suspicious symptoms

If you’re sexually active and having sex with more than one partner, with or without protection, you should aim to get tested every 6 months or at least once a year. It doesn’t matter if you have sex one time or countless times — transmission can happen even in encounters that last only a few minutes.

You can do this at a doctor’s office, testing facility, or from an online kit. If you order one online, make sure to follow these guidelines to choose the right one.

Remember that many STDs are asymptomatic, meaning you won’t know you have it unless you get tested.

Also, STDs can still be transmitted even if you wear protection (e.g. a condom).

Get Peace of Mind

If you haven’t been tested in a while (or ever), or you’re experiencing symptoms, get peace of mind by taking an STD test.

Even in the “worst” case scenario that you do have an STD, it’s not a big deal if you catch it early. All bacterial infections can be cured and all STIs can be treated (they’re much more common than you’d think). 

Communicate with your sexual partner(s) about getting tested. Honest conversations like this can keep everybody healthy and safe.

To get tested yourself, you can order an online test from us. 

Order a Test

Whether you are an individual looking to get a drug test done today or an employer looking to get a pre-employment drug test done today, ordering a test online is easier than ever! Just submit your order online, receive your test authorization by email, go to your local clinic to be tested, and receive your test results in 24 to 48 hours.

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