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How soon do STI symptoms appear?

It depends on which sexually transmitted infection (STI) you have.

Symptoms can develop within a few days or weeks, but 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.

If there's any chance you have an STI, find a local STI testing service or go to your GP for a free and confidential check-up.

See below for information about symptoms of common STIs.

Chlamydia

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

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

Read more about chlamydia.

Genital herpes

Symptoms can appear after four to seven 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.

Read more about genital herpes.

Genital warts

Symptoms usually appear within two to three months, but could start as early as two 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.

Read more about genital warts.

Gonorrhoea

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.

Read more about gonorrhoea.

Pubic lice and scabies

Symptoms usually appear after five days to five 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

Read more about pubic lice and scabies.

Syphilis

Symptoms usually appear two to three 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.

Read more about syphilis.

Trichomoniasis

Symptoms usually appear within four 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.

Read more about trichomoniasis.

HIV

The first symptoms may appear after two to six weeks. They can include:

  • flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature (fever), a sore throat, a 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.

Read more about HIV.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 07/11/2016

Next review due: 07/11/2019