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Incubation Period Chart For Most Common STDs

STD Incubation Period

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Is the STD incubation period the same for every sexually transmitted infection? The quick answer is no. Each sexually transmitted infection is unlike the others. That means that they all develop differently. As a matter of fact, the time frame for when an STI pops up on a test can differ from person to person according to STD incubation period chart. As you can see, the STI incubation period can be pretty complicated. Here are some of the basics you should know:

What Is the STD Incubation Period For Some of the Most Common Infections?

Every sexually active adult should plan to test for STIs every 3-6 months as a general reference. But let’s break down the time frame for several of the most common infections. This guide, and the chart below, will provide you with the knowledge necessary to take full control of your health. The more you know about these health risks, the more prepared you will be to deal with them. After all, many STIs are curable. And the ones that aren’t are quite manageable with proper treatment.


You can test for chlamydia pretty quickly after exposure. Typically, the infection will show up on your results within one to five days of sexual activity. If you test positive, be truly sure that you are cleared of this bacterial infection by retesting two weeks after your treatment is complete.


This infection also shows up on results quickly after you’ve being infected. Test after two to six days to ensure the likelihood that the infection will be detected. Similar to chlamydia, you should retest for gonorrhea after two weeks of treatment should you test positive.


It takes a bit longer for syphilis to appear on your results. This is why being fastidious about testing on a routine basis is so important. Infections take time to develop and show themselves. Testing every several months gives you a better chance of noticing something you missed. You should also retest after you finish treatment.

Hepatitis C

The incubation period for this curable and treatable infection is longer than many of the other infections discussed in this article. Hepatitis C will show up on results about eight to nine weeks after sexual activity. If you test positive for this STI, you should test again three months after treatment.

Genital Herpes

The incubation period for genital herpes is 4-6 weeks. Like the other infections on this list, this STI is very common. However, it is not curable. For that reason, retesting is not necessary. That said, when you have genital herpes and get a flare-up, the infection is treatable with medication. This can help to ease any associated symptoms.

The STI Incubation Period Chart

This handy chart will pinpoint the incubation period for these and other common sexually transmitted infections.  It also recommends an appropriate time to retest and confirm your status.

  When To Test When Is Retesting Necessary
Chlamydia 1-5 days Retest 2 weeks after treatment ends
Gonorrhea 2-6 days Retest 2 weeks after treatment ends
Syphilis 3-6 weeks Retest 2 weeks after treatment ends
Hepatitis A 2-7 weeks Retesting is not necessary
Hepatitis B 3-6 weeks Retesting is not necessary
Hepatitis C 8-9 weeks Retest 3 months after a positive test to confirm result
Oral Herpes 4-6 weeks Retesting is not necessary
Genital Herpes 4-6 weeks Retesting is not necessary
HIV Antibody 1-3 months Retesting is strongly recommended after a positive result
HIV RNA 9-11 days Retesting is strongly recommended after a positive result

Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA


  1. Committee on Infectious Diseases. Hepatitis C Virus Infection. American Academy of Pediatrics. 1998.
  2. Turner TB, Hardy PH, Newman B. Infectivity tests in syphilis. British Journal of Venereal Disease. 1969.
  3. Kimberlin DW, Rouse DJ. Genital Herpes. New England Journal of Medicine. May 2004.

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