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Can You Have an STD Without Having Symptoms?

Can You Have an STD Without Having Symptoms?

“Out of control.” That’s how health experts describe the recent surge in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) across the nation.

In 2019, STD rates reached an all-time high and continue to climb at an alarming pace. Condom usage has also dropped significantly – just 42% of men use condoms today, compared to 75% in 2011.

STDs without symptoms (or asymptomatic STDs) add an even greater level of danger. Many people with STDs have no symptoms. You could be infected and not even know it, and pass an STD to your sexual partner.

Keep reading to learn about STDs that can be asymptomatic, why routine STD testing is so important, and how vybe can help you stay informed about your sexual health.

How long does it take for STD symptoms to show?

Many people think there’s no way they could have an STD (also known as a sexually transmitted infection, or STI) without knowing it. Sadly, that’s just not true. STD symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days to several years later – or they may never appear at all.

Consider this: about 50% of men and 70% of women infected with chlamydia, one of the most common STDs, have no symptoms at all. Zero.

The belief that you can tell if someone has an STD by symptoms alone is one of many myths responsible for today’s surging STD rates. Yes, there are potential signs of STDs in males and signs of STDs in females you should watch for (such as unusual sores, smelly discharge, pain or burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods). However, you should never assume that lacking these symptoms means you’re all clear.

How soon can I test for STDs?

If you’re experiencing any symptoms, you should get an STD test immediately. Without symptoms, a general rule is to wait at least two weeks after your last sexual encounter. If you want to get tested for every potential STD at once, you should get tested one month after your last sexual encounter. In both cases, it’s encouraged that you remain celibate until receiving your results.

What STDs can have no symptoms?

One glance at this list of potentially asymptomatic STDs and you’ll see why it’s so important to get tested regularly, even if you don’t have symptoms.

  1. Chlamydia

    Chlamydia is a very common STD that infects both men and women, often with no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may not appear until several weeks after having sex with an infected partner.

    Chlamydia is highly treatable – if you know you have it. Left untreated, chlamydia can cause permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant in the future. In rare cases, if chlamydia is untreated in men, it can lead to infertility.

  2. Gonorrhea

    Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, throat, or rectum and is especially common among young people (ages 15-24). Gonorrhea symptoms typically develop within about 2 weeks of being infected, although they sometimes do not appear until months later.

    About 10% of infected men and 50% of infected women will not experience any obvious symptoms. When women do have symptoms, they are often mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.
    Most of the time, a simple urine sample can diagnose gonorrhea. However, if you’ve had oral or anal sex, your healthcare provider may need to collect samples from your throat or rectum.

  3. HIV

    Up to 80% of people infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness just a few weeks after infection (symptoms include fever, sore throat, or fatigue). But after that, HIV may not cause any symptoms for several years.

    Even without symptoms, the virus continues to be active, causing progressive damage to your immune system. You should still take an HIV test if you were at risk at any time in the past.

  4. Herpes

    Genital herpes is spread by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus – even if they do not have any visible sores.

    Most people with genital herpes do not know they are infected and experience very mild symptoms (or no symptoms at all). For example, a herpes sore can easily be mistaken for a pimple or ingrown hair. For people who do have herpes outbreaks (when blisters appear and turn into sores), the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.

  5. Trichomoniasis

    Most people with trichomoniasis (or “trich”), a common STD caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, cannot tell they have it. About 70% of people with the infection do not have any symptoms.

    Without treatment, trich can last for months or even years. It can also increase your risk of getting or spreading another STD.

  6. HPV

    Nearly everyone will get HPV, the most common STD in the United States, at some point in their lives. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own without causing any health problems. But when it remains, HPV can cause genital warts or multiple types of cancer.

    Most people with HPV do not know they have the infection unless warts appear, or they develop cancer. Women may find out they have HPV if they get an abnormal Pap test result.

  7. Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is primarily spread when semen, blood, or other bodily fluids from an infected person – even in microscopic amounts – enter the body of another. However, most people are unaware they have it.

    Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks to a serious, lifelong condition. Some people with Hepatitis B develop chronic liver issues, such as liver disease, liver failure, or liver cancer. vybe provides the hepatitis B vaccine, among many others.

The key to protecting yourself is routine testing and talking with your partner

If you’re wondering how to know if you have an STD without getting tested, the answer is this: you can’t. Wearing condoms is not a 100% guarantee either, although it can help greatly.

The only way to know if you or your sexual partner have an STD is to get tested. Before starting a new sexual relationship, both you and your partner should get tested – especially for asymptomatic STDs. Keep an open dialogue with your partner, not just for your health but for theirs as well.

Can you get STD testing at urgent care?

Yes! Walk in or schedule an appointment today at your local vybe urgent care for discreet and confidential STD testing. We offer testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and other STDs/STIs. We’re open seven days a week with extended weekday hours to serve you.

All vybe centers are staffed with licensed medical professionals with a wide range of healthcare knowledge. If any of your STD tests are positive, we can provide you with a treatment plan.