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How long after sex do STI symptoms appear?

Realising you have contracted an STI is a shock for anyone but heading immediately to a private health clinic isn’t always the correct solution and may result in a wasted trip.

In this blog we will discuss how long after sex you will begin to experience STI symptoms, how soon you should get a private STI test, and whether some STI symptoms can be mistaken for a UTI.

How long after sex do STI 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 STI based on NHS guidance:


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. Find out more about the first symptoms of HIV for men and women in one of our recent articles.

Genital Herpes:

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.

Genital Warts:

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.

Pubic Lice:

If you have been infected by public lice it can take several weeks before the lice appear.

Symptoms are exactly the same between men and women and include black powder in your underwear, inflammation and irritation caused by itching, small spots on your skin where you have been itching.

As you can see, the timeframe for when you will develop STD symptoms is different for each type of STD. If you need some further advice from our trained professionals feel free to get in touch.

Can STD symptoms appear the next day?

It is highly unlikely that you will experience STD symptoms the day after taking part in sexual activity.

However, it is possible that you may experience discomfort if your sexual partner was not as hygienic as you had thought, which may have caused an imbalance in your pH level.

If you experience any changes to your genitals and are not sure what has caused it then it is always best to consult your GP.

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.

To find out more, read one of our recent blogs: How Long After Sex Should You Test For STDs?

Can you sleep with someone with an STD and not get it?

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

The safest method of avoiding STD we would recommend is to get private STI testing for yourself and your sexual partner everytime you change sexual partner.

Get in touch:

If you have noticed a change in your genital area, changed sexual partners recently or you think you are experiencing some symptoms of an STD it is vital that you book a private STD test after the incubation period.

Your Sexual Health provides a wide range of STD tests that can be done in clinic or from home to help provide peace of mind as to whether you have been infected by an STD.

Get in touch with our friendly team today for more information, or if you need advice on which test is right for you.