One of the most common questions I get asked during clinic visits is “can STD symptoms appear the next day?”

It’s not the most straight-forward question given that each sexually transmitted disease may have a different set of symptoms, varying incubation periods and different treatment options.

In this article, I want to talk you through when STD symptoms are likely to appear; with a big emphasis on things that you should be looking out for before you get tested. I will also speak about how long it will take for each sexually transmitted disease to show up in a sexual health screening.


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Can STD Symptoms Appear The Next Day?


It is possible for STD symptoms to appear the next day, but it largely depends on the sexually transmitted disease you have been exposed to, as well as the severity of symptoms your sexual partner is experiencing.

The likelihood of waking up the day after the night before with very noticeable or extreme STD symptoms is unlikely.

There are a number of sexually transmitted diseases that may have early signs and symptoms.

Some of these sexually transmitted diseases include:


Herpes


The symptoms of herpes may appear within 24-48 hours following contact. Have you ever kissed someone with a cold sore and woke up the next day with an annoying blister on your lip?

Both HSV I & II strains may cause genital herpes.

The symptoms of the viral strain that causes genital herpes may also appear the day after sexual intervouse. This HSV-II strain of herpes causes genital herpes. If you notice blisters, ulcers and/or unusual lumps or bumps the day after unprotected sex, it is one of the tell-tale signs of herpes.

Some of the other most common symptoms of genital herpes include small blisters on the genitals or rectal area, itching or a burning sensation on the genitals or rectal area and cracked, raw and/or red skin on the genitals or rectal areas.

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Gonorrhea


The symptoms of gonorrhea may also appear within 24-48 hours following contact. The most common sign of gonorrhea is a thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis or the vagina.

For that reason, gonorrhea is often referred to as the “drip”, it is also commonly known as the clap.


The symptoms of some of the most common sexually transmitted diseases will generally take a little longer to become apparent.

Some of the other most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide include chlamydia, syphilis, mycoplasma, gardnerella, trichomoniasis, hepatitis B&C, H.P.V. and H.I.V.

Here are the some of the most common incubatuon periods for STD symptoms to appear, though bear in mind that each and every sexual health case is different so these time periods may be subject to change.

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What Are The First Signs Of An STD?


The most common first signs of an STD include:

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Pain in the testes
  • Unusual bumps and/or blisters

The first signs of an STD depends on the type of STD you have contracted. Some sexually transmitted diseases may show signs and symptoms the very next day, others can remain dormant for years.

STDs that may show signs and symptoms soon after exposure include herpes and gonorrhea.

Chlamydia, which is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease, may be reactive the next day; however, chlamydia has the ability to remain dormant for years.

H.P.V. is another good example of a sexually transmitted disease that can either present with symptoms early, including warts, or it can remain dormant for years in cases where the body has not been successful in fending off the virus.

Put simply, the first signs of sexually transmitted disease really depend on the type of sexually transmitted disease you have contracted, however it is important to remember that most sexually transmitted diseases do not have any symptoms.

To get a fully comprehensive view on the symptoms and incubation periods of each sexually transmitted disease, read our full STD list.


The Most Common STD Symptoms In Men


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The most common STD symptoms in men include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the testes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bumps on the genitals or anus
  • Ulcers on the genitals or anus
  • Fever or a high temperature
  • An abnormal rash on the face or body
  • Unusual discharge or drip from the penis

In a LetsGetChecked study, we were able to identify that chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease diagnosed in straight men, while syphilis is the most common sexually transmitted disease diagnosed in the MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) community. Read: STD Symptoms In Men


Chlamydia


  • Abdominal pain, especially in the lower abdomen
  • Pain in the testes
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Unusual discharge or drip from the penis
  • Feeling feverish or consistently having a temperature
  • A sore throat or swollen glands
  • Rectal discharge

Syphilis


LetsGetChecked report that syphilis was the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted disease in MSM in 2018. Globally there has been a 14% increase in cases of syphilis since 2014.

Symptoms of Primary Stage Syphilis include:

  • Painless sores or ulcers on the mouth, skin and rectum.
  • Swollen lymph nodes or glands
  • Chancres on the point of intimate contact. Chancres are round, painless sores. Chancres generally last 3 to 6 weeks. They often go unnoticed as they are painless.

Symptoms of Secondary Stage Syphilis:

  • Pink rashes on the soles of the feet and palms of hands
  • Enlarged glands
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and joint pain

Symptoms of Latent Syphilis

Early latent syphilis is defined as when the sufferer has been infected for up to two years. The late latent stage is defined as over two years of infection.
There are no visible symptoms of latent syphilis, so sufferers often believe that the infection cleared itself and carry on as normal. Unfortunately, untreated syphilis can have very negative outcomes for those who have had it for this period of time.

Symptoms of Tertiary Syphilis

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Issues with coordination, or clumsiness
  • Mood changes that affect your overall personality
  • Sensory deficits such as sight, smell, taste etc
  • Paralysis
  • Dementia

Gonorrhea


We at LetsGetChecked report that gonorrhea was the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted disease in heterosexual men in 2018, worldwide. The prevalence rate of gonorrhea has increased by 75.2% in the U.S. following a historic low in 2009. The large uplift in cases is said to be partly due to the spread and increase in cases of “super gonorrhea” which is resistant to antibiotics and is particularly difficult to treat.

Symptoms of gonorrhea include:

  • Painful urination
  • Pus-like discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain or swelling in one testicle

Gonorrhea may affect other parts of the body including the rectum, eyes, throat and joints.

Rectum:

  • Itching of the rectum
  • Discharge from the anus
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constipation

Eyes:

  • Pain in the eyes
  • Issues with vision
  • Pus-like discharge from the eyes

Throat:

  • Sore throat
  • Pain and/or itching in the throat
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes)

Joints (Sometimes referred to as septic arthritis)

  • Hot or warm joints
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Extreme pain in the joints

The Most Common STD Symptoms In Women


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The most common STD symptoms in women include:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bumps on the genitals or anus
  • Ulcers on the genitals or anus
  • Fever or a high temperature
  • An abnormal rash on the face or body
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Generally, for women, the most common sexually transmitted disease will include symptoms of abnormal discharge as well as itching or burning which may be passed off as thrush or changes brought on by the menstrual cycle. Read: STD Symptoms In Women

For women especially, there are many instances where they will not experience any symptoms. This is particularly worrisome as untreated sexually transmitted disease may lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), a common cause of infertility in women.

The only way to be sure if you have an STD or not is to fully understand STD symptoms and to get checked on a regular basis.

If you know what to look out for, you know what not to ignore. So what are the most common STD symptoms in women? Let’s take a look at some of the more specific symptoms of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in women.

The four most common sexually transmitted diseases in women include:


H.P.V.


The most common symptoms of H.P.V. in women include:

  • Genital warts
  • Cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, the throat, base of the tongue and/or tonsils

Chlamydia


The most common symptoms of chlamydia in women include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (usually) yellow and with a strong smell
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Abdominal pain
  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Pain during sex

Syphilis


The most common symptoms of syphilis in women include:

As mentioned, syphilis has three stages which are detailed as above. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection which can lie dormant for years if untreated.

The most common symptoms of syphilis in women include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • A fever or high temperature
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Swollen glands
  • Reddish-brown sores in the mouth, vagina or anus
  • A rash on the genitals and/or anus

Herpes


The most common symptoms of herpes in women include:

  • Pain and itching in the genitals and/or anal region
  • Small blisters
  • Painful and/or open sores on the genitals and or anus
  • Red and/or raw areas around the genitals

How Soon Do STD Symptoms Appear?


It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases. Equally, it’s important to be aware of how long it may take for said sexually transmitted diseases to become active and the time periods that you should be getting tested.

Chlamydia
The symptoms of chlamydia may become apparent 1-3 weeks after exposure, though the outward symptoms of chlamydia may remain dormant for months, if not years.

Gonorrhea
The symptoms of gonorrhea can become apparent 24-48 hours following exposure in some cases. However, in most cases, it will take 2-5 days. In other cases, it may take up to 30 days for symptoms to become apparent.

Syphilis
The symptoms of syphilis generally take upto three weeks to develop. In some cases, it can take up to 3 months (90 days to notice symptoms. The side effects of untreated syphilis over a substantial period of time can take years to present themselves.

Herpes Simplex I (HSV-I)
The symptoms of herpes can become apparent the day after exposure, however, in most cases, these symptoms will not become apparent until 2-20 days following infection.

Trichomoniasis
The symptoms of trichomoniasis generally take 1-4 weeks to become apparent following exposure.

H.I.V.
The symptoms of H.I.V generally take 2-6 weeks to become apparent following initial infection. In some cases, the infection can take years to develop, which is why screening is so important, especially if you are in the high risk group.

Hepatitis
The symptoms of hepatitis generally take 2 weeks to 4 months to become apparent depending on the type of hepatitis and the means through which you contracted the virus.

Gardnerella
Gardnerella (a.k.a bacterial vaginosis or B.V.) is a bacterial infection in which the flora of the vagina becomes imbalanced due to lactobacillus bacteria. Men are also opening to contracting gardnerella. As it is not fully understood how sufferers contract the virus, it is not fully understood how long it will take for the symptoms of gardnerella to develop.

Mycoplasma
The symptoms of mycoplasma generally take 2-35 days to become apparent following the initial infection.

Ureaplasma
The symptoms of ureaplasma generally take 10-20 days to become apparent following the initial infection.

We provide at home STD tests, meaning that you now have the ability to test for sexually transmitted diseases from the comfort of home.

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Check out our tests which offer basic to fully comprehensive sexual health screenings that are convenient, cost effective and confidential.

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Read: The LetsGetChecked STD List | Signs, Symptoms & When To Test


Written By Dr. Dominic Rowley | Edited By Hannah Kingston