How to know if you have an STI

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It’s perfectly normal to be concerned about your sexual health. Sadly, rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been increasing for the last few years. In April 2021, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that STIs had reached an all-time high for the 6th year in a row, with 2.5 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in 2019 alone. Unfortunately, things aren’t improving yet.

A healthy sex life is an important part of overall well-being for most people. In a perfect world, protecting your sexual health would be no different that protecting any other aspect of your overall health. However, it’s also true that fear and stigma can discourage people from seeking testing or treatment. It takes a lot of courage to take these first steps, so we hope that this guide will help empower you to know how at risk you may or may not be.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that the only certain way to know if you have an STI is to get tested by a medical professional. Integrity Urgent Care offers compassionate, discreet testing in all of our clinics. If you’re ready to move forward, you can learn more about our services or find a clinic convenient to you.

When do STI symptoms start?

It’s important to catch STIs as early as possible if you can. Knowing when an infection occurred makes it easier to know what the infection might be and how you might have received it. In some cases, you may see symptoms within days or weeks. Other times, you might not experience symptoms for months or even years. Let’s discuss some of the most common STIs and outline their noteworthy symptoms. First, let’s clear up a few misconceptions about STIs and STDs.


STIs and STDs are often used as interchangeable terms, and while there is some professional discrepancy, there’s a key distinction between them. As the name implies, an STI is an infection. This specifically refers to a virus, parasite, or bacteria which has entered your body through sexual contact. STD, or sexually transmitted disease, refers to a situation in which the infection has disrupted normal bodily processes. An STI may or may not progress to an STD, but all STDs are the result of STIs.

If symptoms are present, this usually indicates the progression from STI to STD has been made. Early detection of STIs can be challenging because most people don’t think to get tested if they don’t notice symptoms. This creates problems, as STIs can be spread even if you’re not displaying symptoms. The best way to stay safe is to get tested after each sexual encounter with a non-monogamous partner.

Let’s discuss the onset of symptoms for some of the most common STIs.

Genital Herpes

The majority of those infected with genital herpes have no early symptoms, but those that do can expect them within the first week of infection. On rare occasions, it takes symptoms months or years to show. These can include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Genital tingling or itching
  • Small, painful genital sores


About two-thirds of people infected with HIV experience flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks. These symptoms sometimes disappear and remain dormant for years, even if you don’t treat them. Even if left untreated, these symptoms might disappear and lie dormant for years. They include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Red-colored rashes
  • Chills
  • Fever


About half of women and 1/10th of men do not develop any symptoms whatsoever. When they do, it’s usually within the two-week period following infection. These symptoms include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Genital discharge, often a green or yellow color


About half of infected men and 7/10ths of infected women do not develop symptoms for chlamydia. When they do, symptoms usually appear within three weeks. They have been known to start much later in some cases. These include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Pain in testicles or pelvis
  • Abnormal or excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Genital discharge

Hepatitis B

Some cases of Hep B feature no symptoms, but those that do develop them an average of three months after exposure. They can sometimes develop as early as eight weeks or as late as five months after infection. These symptoms include:

  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Nausea or appetite loss
  • Flu-like symptoms: chills, body aches, etc

Hepatitis C

Though Hepatitis C is primarily spread by blood transfer, it can be spread sexually in rare instances. When symptoms for Hep C develop, it’s usually between two and twelve week after infection. Symptoms include:

  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Nausea or appetite loss
  • Flu-like symptoms: chills, body aches, etc


Symptoms of Trichomonas typically appear within a month, but they’ve been known to begin after several months. About 50% of all infected individuals display symptoms. When they do, they include:

  • Genital discharge
  • Pain during urination
  • Mild itchiness or pain in or around vagina


Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are entirely different from STIs. However, because they are both infections that affect the genital area, people often mistake UTI symptoms for STI symptoms. It’s an easy mistake to make, so much so that even doctors sometimes misdiagnose them.

Similar symptoms between STIs and UTIs often include:

  • Increased urination
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Dark, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine

If you experience these symptoms independently of others, you are more likely to have a UTI. If they occur along with other symptoms, you may have an STI. These other symptoms include:

  • Abnormal genital discharge
  • Genital blisters, lumps, rashes, or other skin abnormalities
  • Genital itching
  • Pain during intercourse

If you think you might have an STI, Integrity Urgent Care is here to help

If you’re concerned that any of the symptoms above apply to you, we encourage you to get tested as soon as possible, especially if you are still sexually active. Regardless of whether or not we find anything, the minor inconvenience of receiving a test is worth the resulting peace of mind.

If you don’t have symptoms of infection, it’s still worthwhile to get regular tests with each new sexual partner. An asymptomatic case can develop worse symptoms or spread, so it’s important to stay safe.

If you’re ready to check your sexual health, Integrity Urgent Care is here for to help. We offer quick, easy STI tests in a discreet, judgment-free environment. Our tests can identify STIs at any stage of development. If we find anything, we offer treatments and counsel to help you get and stay healthy. Learn more about our services or find a clinic near you.

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