STI Window Periods

Also called Incubation Periods, this is the time after which the tests can detect the infection in your body.

Please note: These are guidelines. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should get tested & treated earlier.

 

STI vs STD: A Quick Note

An STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) is when a bacteria or a virus gets into a body – it can be present in the body without any symptoms.

An STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) is used when the STI (or infection) starts to exhibit signs or symptoms.

On our website, we will use STI (instead of STD) to ensure simplicity, unless stated otherwise.

Window Periods

These are guidelines. If you are experiencing symptoms, you can get tested & treated earlier

 Please note:

    • Different STIs have different window periods
    • Different methods of testing have different window periods
    • Recent use of antibiotics can affect the window period (seek clinicians advice)

Minimal vs Optimal Window Periods

These are guidelines. If you are experiencing symptoms, you can get tested & treated earlier

The optimal window period is the recommended time at which one should get tested for the STI, if you are not experiencing any symptoms.

The minimal window period is the earliest time that the STI becomes detectable.

The high-risk window period is for those who (as per definition) are at a greater risk of catching the particular STI and a follow up test is recommended to ensure comprehensive coverage.

STIMinimal WP (Days)Optimal WP (Days)High Risk WP (Days)
Chlamydia214N/A
Gonorrhoea27N/A
HIV102890
Syphilis92890
Hepatitis B2890
Hepatitis C2890
Herpes2N/AN/A
Mycoplasma714N/A
Ureaplasma14N/AN/A
HPV7N/AN/A
STIMinimal WP (Days)Optimal WP (Days)High Risk WP (Days)
Chlamydia214N/A
Gonorrhoea27N/A
HIV102890
Syphilis92890
Hepatitis B2890
Hepatitis C2890
Herpes2N/AN/A
Mycoplasma714N/A
Ureaplasma14N/AN/A
HPV7N/AN/A

A Rule of Thumb for Routine STI Testing

A helpful timeline for those looking for a routine test, and not experiencing symptoms.
You can discuss which tests are best for you at the time of your appointment.

From 10 Days

Post-exposure

For early detection & intervention:

  • HIV-1 Qual RNA from GeneXpert
    (tests for the virus itself)

From 14 Days

Post-exposure

Optimal to test for:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Trichomonas
  • Mycoplasma

From 28 Days

Post-exposure

Optimal to test for: 

  • HIV (1&2)
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

A follow up test may be recommended at 90 days for those at high risk

FAQs

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Can I discuss my risks with a sexual health clinician?

Yes. Every STI appointment includes an STI Consultation whereby you can discuss the risks you may be at with an expert. Any tests and treatments, as appropriate, can be provided during this time.

What tests will I need?

Every STI appointment begins with an STI Consulation. During this, your clinician will understand your sexual history, symptoms you may have and determine the risks you may be at. Following this, the appropriate tests will be recommended to you with ample time to carry them out.

If I'm at high risk, can you offer prevention?

If you have been involved in higher risk activity then it might be worth discussing the following with an experienced clinician (available from our clinics):
 

  • Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • HIV PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) – taken within 72 hours of exposure

Who will I see?

All appointments are with an experienced sexual health Nurse or Doctor, who have spent most of their career in the NHS. They will be able to consult, test and treat you.

If you are experiencing symptoms,

It is important to refer to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Our experience combined with timely detection can help avoid complications in the future.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.