You Could Have an STD and Not Know It

Honestly, don’t you think the world is crappy sometimes? You just had unprotected sex and you wonder about your risks of getting an STD or just discovered a strange symptom in your pubic area and wonder if you have an STD and should take appropriate action.

Well, it depends on which STD you have. You can develop symptoms within a few days or weeks, sometimes they don’t appear until months or even years later. Often there are few or no symptoms and you may not know you have an STI.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 women in The United States

See below guidelines for how long it usually takes for STD symptoms to show up after an exposure.


Symptoms usually appear after 1 to 3 weeks, but could start much later. They include:

  • Discharge from the vagina or penis 
  • pain when peeing 
  • vaginal bleeding between periods or after sex 
  • pelvic pain in women 
  • testicular pain in men 

About 50% of men and 70% of women don’t have any symptoms. 

Genital herpes

Symptoms can appear after 4 to 7 days, but might not start until months or years later. They include:

  • small, painful blisters around the genitals 
  • pain when peeing 
  • a tingling or itching around the genitals 

Most people don’t have any symptoms when first infected. 

Genital warts

Symptoms usually appear within 2 to 3 months, but could start as early as 2 weeks or not for several years. They include:

  • small, fleshy growths or bumps on the genitals or around the anus – these are usually painless, but may be itchy 

Most people with the virus that causes genital warts don’t develop obvious warts. 


Symptoms usually appear within 10 days, but could start much later. They include:

  • green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis 
  • pain when peeing 

About 10% of men and 50% of women don’t have any symptoms. 

Pubic lice and scabies

Symptoms usually appear after 5 days to 5 weeks, but could start later. They include:

  • itching around the genitals (usually worse at night) 
  • black spots in your underwear 
  • small spots of blood on the skin near your genitals 
  • a spotty red rash 


Symptoms usually appear 2 to 3 weeks after first becoming infected, but could start earlier or much later. They include:

  • one or more small painless sores or ulcers on the genitals 
  • a blotchy rash and flu-like symptoms that may follow a few weeks later 

Symptoms are often not obvious and may come and go. 


Symptoms usually appear within 4 weeks, but could start months later. They include:

  • discharge from the vagina or penis 
  • pain when peeing 
  • itchiness or discomfort around the opening of the vagina 

About 50% of men and women don’t have any symptoms. 


The first symptoms may appear after 2 to 6 weeks. They can include:

  • flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature (fever), a sore throat, headache, and achy muscles or joints 
  • a red rash on the body 

Not everyone gets these symptoms, but in people who do they usually last a week or two.

After they disappear, you may not have any further symptoms for many years, even though the infection remains in your body.

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