When can you be tested for STIs?

You can test yourself for STIs from home with Homed-IQ’s self-tests. However, it is important to take into account the window period of each STI in order to receive the most reliable result.

What is the window period?

The window period is the time between the moment of unprotected sexual contact (infection) and the moment at which the STI can be detected by a test. Every STI has its own window period. Therefore, it is best to wait until the window phase has ended to be sure the STI is detectable for a laboratory test. Then it can be determined with certainty whether or not you have an STI.

Can you take an STI test before the window period has ended if you have symptoms?

The window periods for STIs are usually a range of weeks or months. It is not recommended to test before the window period has ended because there is a chance of getting a negative test result even if you have an infection (false negative). However, certain STIs (such as HIV and Syphilis) can usually be detected after a few weeks, but in very rare cases only after several months. If you receive a negative result for HIV and syphilis a few weeks after infection, you should get tested again after three months to completely rule out an infection.

Since you can also have STIs without any symptoms, it is important to test yourself after the window period is over if you are at risk for an STI.

What is the difference between incubation time and window period?

These two terms are often confused.

The window period is the time between being infected and when a test can detect an STI.

The incubation period, on the other hand, indicates how long after infection symptoms will appear. If you have symptoms, it is still important to keep the window phase in mind. Testing before the window phase is over can yield a false-negative result. It is therefore important to wait to until the window period is over before testing to avoid unnecessary testing.

Below you can see an overview of the window periods per STI. The relevant window period per STI is based on the NHG guidelines, which are adhered to by our laboratory. After the window period has passed, the STI can be reliably detected by the laboratory.

STIWindow Period
Chlamydia14 days
Gonorrhoea14 days
Mycoplasma Genitalium4 weeks
Trichomoniasis4 weeks
Herpes 1 and 2When blisters appear
Syphilis3 weeks – If negative, repeat test 3 months after sexual contact
HIV 24 weeks – If negative, repeat test 3 months after sexual contact
Hepatitis B4 weeks
Hepatitis C28 days
Source: NHG

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