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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 do not 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 a GP for a free and confidential check-up.

On this page you will find information about the symptoms of common STIs.

Chlamydia

Symptoms usually appear after 1 to 3 weeks but can start much later. Symptoms include:

About 50% of men and 70% of women who are infected do not have any symptoms.

Find out more about chlamydia.

Genital herpes

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

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

Most people do not have any symptoms when first infected.

Find out more about genital herpes.

Genital warts

If genital warts appear, symptoms could start from 3 weeks to many months or even years after contact with the virus that causes them. Symptoms 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 do not develop obvious warts.

Find out more about genital warts.

Gonorrhoea

Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of being infected 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 who are infected do not have any symptoms.

Find out more about gonorrhoea.

Pubic lice

It can take several weeks before any symptoms of pubic lice appear. Symptoms are the same for men and women, and include:

  • itching in the affected areas, especially at night
  • inflammation and irritation caused by scratching
  • black powder in your underwear
  • blue spots or small spots of blood on your skin, such as on your thighs or lower tummy (caused by lice bites)

Find out more about pubic lice

Scabies

Symptoms of scabies can take up to 6 weeks to appear if you have never had them before. It may only take up to 4 days if you have had scabies before. Symptoms include:

  • itching around the genitals (usually worse at night)
  • a spotty red rash

Find out more about scabies.

Syphilis

Symptoms usually appear after 2 to 3 weeks 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.

Find out more about syphilis.

Trichomoniasis

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 who are infected do not have any symptoms.

Find out more about trichomoniasis.

HIV

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

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

Not everyone gets these symptoms, but in people who do they usually last 1 to 2 weeks.

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

Find out more about HIV.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 22 November 2019
Next review due: 22 November 2022