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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) don’t always have specific symptoms or may not manifest themselves at all. However, this doesn’t mean that you can forget about protection. To protect yourself from STIs, you should use condoms when having any type of sex (vaginal, oral, or anal).

If you’ve had unprotected sex  and/or have a new sexual partner whose STI history is unknown to you, it’s better to get checked for STIs as soon as possible. Waiting for any symptoms of infection to show up may be too late as STIs can cause irreversible changes to the internal organs when left untreated.

Each STI has its own incubation period (the time from getting infected to the appearance of symptoms):

  • 7 Days for common bacterial infections (chlamydia, gonorrhea, mycoplasma, and urea plasma)
  • Up to 6 Weeks for syphilis, hepatitis B, and herpes simplex
  • Up to 9 Weeks for hepatitis C

You can get tested for HIV:

  • 9-11 Days after exposure by taking a PCR test (polymerase chain reaction is a technique used to detect viral particles in the blood)
  • 1 to 3 months after the exposure by taking an ELISA test (the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is used to detect the virus by measuring antibodies in the blood)

Remember that condoms aren’t 100% effective in protecting against infections, so be proactive when it comes to your health

Source: Dr. Tahir Mahmood (Ob/Gyn, Victoria Hospital, UK; Chair of EBCOG Standards of Care and Position Statements Group)

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